“I’m one of many people who walk the beach every day,” said Lolly Champion of Cannon Beach. “Walking along, I’d see cigarette butts.
“Soon, I’d start carrying a bag to pick them up.”
Then Champion spotted a trend. After weekends … especially, holiday weekends … cigarette littering on the beaches increased significantly.
So she began doing some research online. Champion learned that cigarette butts are one of the most-polluting items in the world, particularly harmful to the environment when discarded with a filter.
“That’s what they find in shorebirds, fish and all kinds of marine life,” Champion said.
She said the City of Cannon Beach started getting complaints about the littering. “That never is a good complaint from tourists or visitors,” she said.
Which prompted her to launch local campaign: “Cannon Beach: Too Beautiful for Butts.”
Meantime, after additional research and plenty of advice from around the world, Champion came upon cigarette waste containers that could easily be installed onto the city’s trash bins.
And she raised the money for each container herself.
“People are so generous,” Champion said. “This community, which I’m so blessed to live in, is very community-oriented. This was done by us - the people who are stewards of this marvelous place.”
Local residents donated enough money to purchase 34 containers. Twenty-four already have been installed by Coaster Construction, on the north end of town.
By the end of the campaign, Champion hopes to have 65 containers placed throughout the Cannon Beach.
Now, her campaign’s focus shifts to education. Champion said it takes six to 10 months to teach people to throw their cigarette butts into a container, rather than tossing them on the sand.
Right now, she’s cleaning out each container by herself, then sending the cigarette butts back to their manufacturers through a program called “Terracycle.”
“Manufacturers need to be responsible for the product that is not utilized,” said Champion. “Every manufacturer is being (made) much more aware of this.”
Terracycle’s website says that once collected, the cigarettes and packaging are separated by composition and melted into hard plastic, which can be remolded to make new, recycled industrial products such as plastic pallets.
The ash and tobacco are separated out and composted through a specialized process.
Just ask Lolly Champion.