The UK-based charity GreenSeas Trust, with the support of the Mairie de Cannes in France, recently gave away free pocket ashtrays and leaflets at Midi Plage, just west of La Croisette, to residents and tourists taking advantage of this popular beach and the sunny weather.
A group of GreenSeas Trust volunteers, made up of local residents from the Cannes region and visitors, made a visible attempt to bring awareness by picking up cigarette ends, plastics and rubbish from the sand. The group working together en-masse caught the attention of beach-goers, many of who were surprised to learn that cigarette filters are made of cellulose acetate fibres (a plastic), which does not degrade.
The GreenSeas Trust volunteers explained that cigarette butts left extinguished in the sand or carelessly tossed on the beach, upon reaching the sea, release toxic chemicals such as, acetone, ammonia, formaldehyde and cadmium, the active component in battery acid. This Molotov cocktail of carcinogenic chemicals and toxins leak into the marine environment and poison microbes, insects and fish or suffocate marine wildlife. It is estimated there are 4 trillion cigarette butts in the oceans.
The charity was established in memory of Haida Khan who loved the sea with a passion. Her daughter, Fazilette Khan, said, “GreenSeas Trust wants smokers to behave responsibly and put their butts in designated bins or pocket ashtrays. Cigarette butts are the number one item found in coastal clean-ups. Every time we organise an awareness campaign it brings us closer to our goal to ensure marine life and fish stocks are sustainable for future generations.”
The aim of GreenSeas Trust (greenseas.org ) is to educate, promote and implement environmental programs to eliminate plastics and marine debris entering the seas and coastal areas.