We are not just anglers, we are stewards.
We spent Saturday, National Stream Cleanup Day, cleaning up trash near our local river.
Last year, we were somewhat surprised to find pieces of plastic bags woven into the underbrush and the grass. This year we shouldn't have been shocked, but we were, at the number of cigarette butts we found. They easily outnumbered all other types of trash by a margin of ten to one.
There are reasons to be concerned. Used cigarette filters can take up to twelve months to break down in fresh water and up to five years to break down in seawater. On dry land, the process can take even longer.
Discarded cigarette filters can contain lead, cadmium, nicotine, and tar. These chemicals can leach into lakes, streams, and rivers. In laboratory experiments, Kathleen Register, founder of Clean Virginia Waterways, noted that 100% of Daphnia died after 48 hours of exposure in concentrations that were equivalent to only two used cigarette filters per liter of water.
It is easy to be a steward with regard to trash, pack everything out that you pack in, dispose of it properly.
The same is true of cigarette butts. Pack out what you pack in, dispose of it properly.
Keep a container with you and dedicate it to cigarette disposal. Use an old band-aid tin, a film canister, a baggie with a quick seal top, or an old coffee can. Partially fill your container with kitty litter to absorb odors and to help extinguish your cigarette. Depending on how much you smoke, keep several containers on hand. Extinguish your butts in your container and seal it up when you're done. When you have filled a container, dispose of the contents properly in your trash.
When you pack your cigarette butts out and dispose of them properly, you keep toxins out of the aquatic environment. By doing so, you become more than an angler, you become a steward.
For more Stewardship Tips visit www.RecycledFish.org