Surfrider Foundation Delaware

Hold On To Your Butt

The Problem

Delaware beaches are known for incredible landscapes, serene coastal views, abundant wildlife and so much family fun. They are central to what makes Delaware, well, Delaware. But these beaches – and the people and animals who love them – face a real threat if we don’t take action to end cigarette litter in our state.

How You Can Help

Carry-in, Carry-out. When you leave, take home any items you bring into Delaware State Parks including cigarette waste.

If you smoke, please dispose of your cigarette litter in ashcan receptacles for recycling located in Cape Henlopen, the Indian River Inlet, and Fenwick Island State Park or Hold On To Your Butt and dispose of it when you get home. Free personal pocket ashtrays are available to smokers at several locations in Sussex County and will be distributed on select weekends in the parks during the summer.

Pick up a free pocket ashtray from:

  • Surfrider Delaware Cleanups
  • Indian River Lifesaving Station
  • DNREC Park Headquarters at the Indian River Inlet and Cape Henlopen
  • Participating surf and bait and tackle shops

If you don’t smoke, please encourage your friends and family who do smoke to properly dispose of their cigarette butts. Volunteer to help Surfrider Delaware clean up the beaches, like us on Facebook, sign up to receive our emails to be notified where and when beach cleanups take place.

Cigarette Waste Receptacle Ashcans

To help park visitors properly dispose of cigarette litter, DNREC has installed cigarette waste receptacles at key locations in Fenwick Island, Cape Henlopen, and the Delaware Seashore State Parks. The ashcans were donated by Keep Delaware Beautiful. If you smoke, please dispose of your cigarette litter in an ashcan for recycling or Hold On To Your Butt and dispose of any waste when you get home.

Recycling of Cigarette Butts

All of the cigarette butts that are collected in the ashcans and at our beach cleanups are recycled by Keep Delaware Beautiful through Terracycle’s cigarette waste recycling program. Cigarette waste collected by Terracycle is melted into hard plastic that can be molded into new recycled industrial products. The bench pictured below located at Cape Henlopen State Park is made from recycled plastic.

Hold On To Your Butt (HOTYB)

In partnership with Plastic Free Delaware and the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, the Surfrider Delaware HOTYB campaign aims to increase public awareness of the environmental dangers of cigarette butts and inspire smokers to properly dispose of their butts. The partners share a mission to stop plastic pollution at the source before it enters Delaware’s fragile coastal ecosystem. As Delaware’s number one pollutant, cigarette butts—which are made of plastic—will continue to be the focus of our cleanups.

The Surfrider Foundation Delaware Chapter Hold On To Your Butt program is a 2022 Temper of the Times Foundation Grant winner as well as a 2022 DNREC CEPF Grant winner.

Cigarette Litter Misconceptions

Misconception: There aren’t that many butts on the beach.

Fact: Cigarette butts are the most frequently littered trash in Delaware. Data from the past decade of the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s annual Coastal Cleanup shows that volunteers picked up between 10,000 to 20,000 total cigarette butts during this one day event over those 10 years. In 2021, the Delaware Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation removed over 8500 butts from Delaware’s beaches.

2021 Top Ten Items collected by the Delaware Chapter

Misconception: Cigarette filters are made of cotton. They will just decompose.

Fact: Cigarette filters are made from plastic – plasticized cellulose acetate – which does not biodegrade or compost. Cigarette filters discarded in the environment break down into smaller pieces over the course of 10 years, but they are never truly gone. *

Misconception: Extinguished cigarette butts are not dangerous.

Fact: While they may not start a fire, butts are made of combustible materials and may intensify existing fires, * and pose a threat to anyone barefoot on our beaches. Discarded cigarette butts also leach chemicals which pollute our waterways and pose significant risk to birds and other wildlife which may mistakenly swallow them. *

*Novotny, T., Lum, K., Smith, E., Wang, V., & Barnes, R. (2009). Cigarettes Butts and the Case for an Environmental Policy on Hazardous Cigarette Waste. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 6(5), 1691–1705.*1

Help End Cigarette Litter in Delaware

Links to local media coverage of the Hold On To Your Butt program

DETV Good Morning Wilmington Interview with Chair Brian Moran -July 13, 2022

WBOC Delmarva Life Interview with Chair Brian Moran – July 12, 2022

Delaware State News article – July 3, 2022

WRDE news segment on the recent EPS bill and the Hold On To Your Butt program.