March 14, 2017

Kicking Butt in the Richmond

Nearly every neighborhood in San Francisco faces the problem of rampant littering of cigarette butts and other trash. It’s overwhelming, and sometimes feels like it’s easier not to care. Not every neighborhood is as lucky as the Outer Richmond, with neighbors like Pawel and business owners like Yuka of Cassava, and the organizations like the amazing Richmond District Neighborhood Center, who actually do something about it. Pawel saw one of our Hold on to your Butt cigarette recycling receptacles — “buttcylers”– and thought “every neighborhood should have these.” He reached out to Yuka, also head of the Balboa Village Merchants Association who emphatically agreed.

To raise awareness about the cigarette butt littering problem — which many people don’t notice — we organized a cigarette butt cleanup. Pawel spearheaded the effort, with support from Surfrider and our friends at Public Works’ fantastic Adopt-A-Street program

In about 2 hours, 14 volunteers collected over 6,000 cigarette butts, and 8 bags of trash. We’ll be highlighting these results at the next Balboa Village Merchants Association meeting. The proof is in the butt, as they (may or may not) say, and we hope the passion and efforts of this neighborhood to have clean streets, free of toxic plastic cigarette litter, will make installation of cigarette receptacles or buttcyclers a no-brainer. The Richmond District Neighborhood Center is leading the way! They’ve adopted 5 receptacles, an amazing show of support and commitment to a cleaner, safer neighborhood.


Local bakeries Butter Love and Marla Bakery offered sweet treats for all of those who participated, and business owners thanked volunteers countless times. The cleanup was even featured in the Richmond Blog and got a shoutout from Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer’s office — not too shabby for a week or so’s worth of preparation and a couple hours of good dirty fun!

(Image credits, from top: Sandra Lee Fewer’s office, Ken Pechous, Pawel Dlugosz)

February 27, 2017

Cleaning Up the TL

We took some of the stink out of the notoriously dirty Tenderloin yesterday when just 10 volunteers picked up an overwhelming 6,650 cigarette butts on 9 TL blocks in less than 2 hours. The TL is home to the highest concentration of kids in all of SF. That the city of San Francisco doesn’t do more to keep their home clean and safe, by at the very least enforcing their requirement that businesses must have cigarette receptacles, is nothing but a dirty shame. Not surprisingly, we found the highest concentrations of cigarette butts around SROs, bars, and corner stores. Ashcans and education will help this problem.

We did good, it felt good, didn’t smell so good….but butt picking rarely does. Many many thank yous from neighborhood, a few threats, and some serious good karma for the volunteers. Big thanks to Tradition for hosting our happy hour and to Boeddeker Park for being our home base. We’ll be recycling all butts through TerraCycle.

February 2, 2017

Salesforce Volunteers Grab 7,400 Butts

On a normal day, we’d be calling HR. But we’re talking about cigarette butts, and for Salesforce #Futureforce volunteers, this was no normal day. Salesforce took a stand for the environment last week when team leaders Stephanie and Jessica brought together 15 recent grads and interns from the #Futureforce for a volunteer day with Surfrider’s Hold on to Your Butt committee to clean up cigarette butt litter, and install the first cigarette recycling station (aka ashcan) in San Francisco’s Financial District.


We met up at Salesforce’s Mission and Fremont St. offices, I subjected them to my spiel (get the facts here), geared them up with gloves, grabbers, and buckets, and they hit the streets.
There’s a first time for everything, and though I didn’t ask, I’m betting this is the first time these tech workers started their day at Salesforce not in the building, but outside, on the streets of San Francisco, on a mission to pick up cigarette butts.

The rest of us set up camp at 45 Fremont, and unfurled our new banner designed by environmentalist ad agency gyro. First comment off the street was “That’s bulls**t”– but hey, we got the guy’s attention, and who knows, maybe he was just having a bad day. Regardless, his was the only negative response of the day — other passersby stopped, read, and appreciated our message.

We proceeded to install the Surfrider ashcan, sponsored by Salesforce. I’ll be emptying it for the time being, until the City recognizes the need to install and maintain ashcans all over San Francisco. With this install, Salesforce is not only demonstrating its commitment reducing plastic toxic waste, but also upholding San Francisco law – the SF Department of Public Works (DPW) requires that every business in San Francisco must have a cigarette litter receptacle.

Stalwart Surfrider volunteer Ken wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty – or a bit bloody – in getting our ashcan strapped to its new home. Next time we bring work gloves! Ken rocked it and has been granted the possibly dubious honor of being our official SF ashcan installer.

Know a place that needs one? Send them our ashcan sponsorship info and form – or shoot me an email at hotyb@sf.surfrider.org.

Our first customer was a little bewildered by our enthusiasm for his smoking, but proved a willing participant in recycling his butt.

We had the luck of a sunny day and the volunteers were out for nearly 2 hours circling the blocks around Salesforce, and bringing home the butts – an astonishing 7,400!!

We can’t say thank you enough for their help! And neither could all the folks who thanked our volunteers as they cleaned up our beautiful, filthy, dirty city.

We’ll be recycling all of these butts through TerraCycle. First though, they’ll make an appearance at our Message in a Bottle plastic pollution art and education event this weekend – Feb 3-5. Hope to see you there!

*3/8/2017 UPDATE* We received the official count from TerraCycle, and Salesforce volunteers collected an astounding 7,400 cigarette butts! Post updated from original estimate of 5,000 butts.

January 22, 2017

Not to Flick: Cigarette Butts are Plastic—Really—And Useless—Really

Cigarette filters are made of 12,000 individual strands of a high-grade plastic called cellulose acetate. Cellulose acetate is also used to make sunglasses, textiles, good old-fashioned photographic film, personal hygiene products, and more.
Cigarette filters look like cotton, paper, or some other kind of natural fiber, because cellulose acetate is derived from cotton in a complex way I finally understand after reading Patricia dePra’s explanation.

Cellulose acetate is used instead of natural fibers such as cotton or paper because it holds up against heat and moisture—handy and practical features to have at the mouth-end of a lit cigarette—and because it’s cheaper and more uniform to manufacture than biodegradable alternatives.

Most smokers don’t litter other forms of plastic. And, people as a rule avoid deliberately contaminating their environment—most wouldn’t toss dead batteries off the dock or down a storm drain. But it’s still common practice to flick a plastic butt loaded with lead, cadmium, arsenic, nicotine, and other toxins on to the ground, where they leach these nasty contaminants into the water and soil, threatening life on land and at sea. Just one smoked cigarette butt was found to kill half the fish in one liter of water.

Why do smokers do this? I wish I could tell you. I’m a former smoker, and I did it too. I can tell you that I didn’t know that cigarette butts are plastic—and never thought about the toxins they trap. Nor did much thought or awareness go into that flick. It was just what you did when you finished your cigarette.

Some who study this will say that it’s because smokers want to distance themselves from their habit, and subconsciously that may be true, but mostly I think it’s because cig butts stink to high heaven and there’s often nowhere to safely toss them out. Not an excuse, I know. But it is a reason. Until we’re aware that our actions cause harm, we have no reason to change them.

The real rub is that cigarette filters do not reduce the harm of smoking, and may in fact increase it. They’re a marketing tactic used by tobacco companies to sell more cigarettes. Filters require smokers to draw more heavily on the cigarette when they take a puff, and smoke more cigarettes to get the same nicotine fix.

It’s maddening that the most littered item in the world is not only toxic and plastic, but completely unnecessary. Here in San Francisco, Surfrider’s Hold on to Your Butt program is working to change this by educating smokers, installing cigarette receptacles, advocating for enforcement of littering laws, and demanding that big tobacco get their plastic out of smokers’ butts. Together, we can keep this toxic trash out of our environment.

January 13, 2017

No Filter: San Francisco’s Newest Butt Blog

The Naked Truth: 8,950 butts from Ocean Beach and Baker Beach

In the year and a half since we launched the San Francisco “cheek” of the very successful Surfrider Hold on to Your Butt cigarette waste reduction program, we’ve kept more than 71,000 cigarette butts from entering our oceans and waterways. Our predecessors in San Diego and Huntington Beach, taught us everything we needed to get the program up and running, and we at the SF chapter can’t thank them enough for that!

I’m Shelly, I lead SF’s Hold on to Your Butt program, and I’m starting this new blog, “No Filter,” to share information with San Franciscans and Surfriders alike. And giving a shameless plug for our Instagram feed @holdontoyourbutt, the Surfrider SF Facebook page, and the requisite butt pic with the naked truth: the 8,950 cigarette butts shown here were all collected at Ocean Beach and Baker Beach, and represent but a small fraction of the 4.5 trillion cigarette butts littered around the world every year.

Butts that end up on beaches don’t necessarily start there: all roads lead to the ocean, and a butt that’s flicked in the Mission can easily end up getting snuffed up by a dog at Ocean Beach or swallowed by a seagull along the Embarcadero.

Why do smokers litter these plastic, toxic cigarette butts? Why does Big Tobacco persist in sticking plastic filters on the number one most littered item in the world? Why doesn’t San Francisco do more to mitigate this toxic waste? And most importantly, how can we stop this from happening once and for all? We’ll explore this and more right here.

May 3, 2016

May Meeting Agenda – May 3rd

6:50 – 7:00 Pick up pizzas and beverages

____________________________________________________________

7:00 – 7:15 Settle in, pizzas and mingle

7:15 – 7:25 Introductions and Agenda Overview (5 min)

7:25 – 7:35  Chapter Announcements (10 min)

  • Open Positions and Election Announcement
    • Beach Cleanup Coordinator (non EC position)
    • Volunteer Coordinator
    • Vice Chair
  • Financial update
  • EC Meeting Reschedule
  • Issue update (general SF/Bay Area issues. trash can example)
  • Chapter personnel update (if any)
  • Chapter HQ Update

7:35-7:45: Chapter Chair Election

7:50- 8:15  Campaign Needs, Upcoming Events, and Recaps (45 min)

  • EARTH DAY recap
  • Beach Cleanups
  • RAP
  • HOTYB
  • MOP
  • Sloat
  • Education

8:15 – 8:20 Public Announcements

8:20 – 8:45 Breakout

April 5, 2016

April Meeting Agenda

6:50 – 7:00 Pick up pizzas and beverages

____________________________________________________________

7:00 – 7:20 Settle in, pizzas and mingle (Shirts available for sale)

7:20 – 7:25 Introductions and Agenda Overview (5 min)

7:25 – 7:40  Chapter Announcements (10 min)

  • Open Positions and Election Announcement
    • Volunteer Coordinator
    • Beach Cleanup Coordinator (non EC position)
    • Chair
    • Vice Chair
  • Financial update
  • Issue update (general SF/Bay Area issues. trash can example)
  • Chapter personnel update (if any)
  • Surfrider Conference Highlights

7:40 – 8:15  Campaign Needs and Upcoming Events (45 min)

  • EARTH DAY
  • RAP
  • HOTYB
  • Beach Cleanups
  • Beach Trash Committee / Take 3 (NPS trash committee?)
  • MOP
  • Sloat
  • Education

8:15 – 8:20 Public Announcements

8:20 – 8:45 Breakout

March 1, 2016

March Meeting Agenda – March 1st, 2016

6:50 – 7:00 Pick up pizzas and beverages

_________________________________________________________________________

7:00 – 7:20 Settle in, pizzas and mingle (Shirts available for sale)

7:20 – 7:25 Introductions and Agenda Overview (5 min)

7:25 – 7:40  Chapter Announcements (10 min)

  • Open Positions
      • Volunteer Coordinator
      • Beach Cleanup Coordinator (non EC position)
      • Chair
      • Vice Chair
      • RAP / HOTYB Intern (application based, non EC)
  • Financial update
  • Issue update (general SF/Bay Area issues. trash can example)
  • Chapter personnel update (if any)
  • Surfrider Conference

7:40 – 8:10  Campaign Needs and Upcoming Events (30 min)

  • RAP
  • HOTYB
  • Beach Cleanups
  • Beach Trash Committee / Take 3 (NPS trash committee?)
  • MOP
  • Sloat
  • Education

8:10 – 8: 25 Guest Speaker (15 min pres, 5 min Q and A)

We are also very excited to welcome Rebecca Prince-Ruiz as a guest speaker at our upcoming March chapter meeting. Rebecca is co-founder of the Plastic Free July challenge in Australia and is travelling the world as a Churchill Fellow to talk about plastic pollution and solutions. She is very much looking forward to learning about some of our local challenges and bringing back information to share with her community in Australia.

8:25 – 8:30 Public Announcements
8:30 – 8:45 Breakout

January 20, 2016

Annual Planning Meeting Notes (+link)

Annual Super-Planning Meeting

January 10th, 2016

The meeting was held at the Church of Surf form 1-4 pm, with approximately 14 members present.

As a chapter, we discussed issues regarding financial transparency, program goals and means of achieving them, as well as separate smaller issues and upcoming events.

Finance- Michael has been working tirelessly to organize and present accurate accounting and summaries of the chapters finances. To accomplish this, finance information will now be in Google docs, and we are working with national to get program actuals.Transparency is key with this topic. If we are to spend money, we are to do so more wisely, to keep us out of the red and sustain campaigns. Questions came up regarding what exactly is considered “in the red”. The topic of Bill being paid as a contractor for Sloat. Questions were raised about his role as a member in conjunction with being a paid contractor, as well as concerns over why some programs had a paid contractor while others did not. The explanation of paying for Restore Sloat is that it’s a key point of our chapter and the contract has a finite lifespan. Everyone was encouraged to reach out individually to Brian + Bill with questions. One of the goals today is to understand what each program needs and planning an annual budget. In addition to each programs’ finance, we talked about moving the meetings around the SF area to accommodate the cost of pizza and beer as well as including other areas and neighborhoods.

 

Goals – Jeff spoke about program goals and including those on Google docs. He provided instructions on how to enter each programs’ information into the Google document (go into docà templateà right clickàmake new versionà and then map out goals on the calendar. Each program will have its own tab, and we will eventually have a master sheet to allow for understanding of what is going on through the year.

This meeting included several new members, which was encouraging that our chapter has fresh ideas and faces to implement them.

We also discussed the need for a different space for our physical stuff; Brian and Sarah are currently exploring options regarding a shed in the back of Church of Surf.

The topic of EC position elections was thoroughly discussed, and several positions are available to be filled within the upcoming months. We are working to get an event coordinator, Chrissy has expressed and interest and we will vote on this a.s.a.p. There are currently three positions up for election; however, we have yet to see an interest by a member to fill those rolls. Meanwhile, the EC continues to work to find people to fill those positions.

 

Campaign goals + plans will be posted here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1wovfS5TneP4ThPllzeGB4p1R-gebk9GgkaEMn0xAi2k/edit#gid=2059607871

November 14, 2015

Ocean Beach Trash Bin Removal

Statement

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