If you’ve visited downtown Ventura, you may have noticed the cigarette butt ashcans in areas with the worst cigarette butt litter problems. While smoking is not permitted downtown or in almost any other public space in the city, there is still a considerable amount of cigarette butt litter making its way into our streets, storm drains, waterways and beaches. In fact, cigarette butts are the most common trash item picked up by Surfrider in their monthly beach cleanups.
Cigarette butts are made of plastic, contain dangerous chemicals, and are toxic to children and wildlife. To reduce the negative environmental impacts of cigarette butt litter, these ashcans were installed by the City of Ventura, and will be emptied by Downtown Ventura Partners and volunteers from the Surfrider Foundation’s Ventura County Chapter. After the cigarette butts are collected, Surfrider volunteers send them off to the recycling company TerraCycle to be turned into pallets, park benches, and more!
These efforts are part of a larger Hold On To Your Butt (HOTYB) campaign that Surfrider is leading, with support from the City of Ventura and other local groups. In addition to the downtown locations, ashcans were also installed at some City Parks, along the Promenade, and near beach entrance in Pierpont. As of July 2021,102 ashcans have been installed throughout the City of Ventura, 10 in Port Hueneme, and 2 in Oxnard. In total, 408,528 butts have been collected and recycled from this program, where 98% of the collected cigarette butts have come from ashcans and cleanups in Ventura.