The Surfrider Foundation and two San Francisco District Supervisors began a six-month pilot program Friday to reduce the volume of cigarette butts on beaches, sidewalks and roadways in San Francisco.
"The Hold on to Your Butt" campaign entails installing 40 cigarette butt ash cans along Ocean Beach and on commercial corridors in the Sunset and Richmond districts. The San Francisco Department of Public Works will empty the cans during the campaign to determine the effectiveness of the litter reduction effort.
Supervisors Katy Tang and Sandra Lee announced the pilot program Friday morning at Ocean Beach Stairwell 17.
Twenty cigarette ash cans will be installed on Irving Street between 19th and 21st avenues, on Noriega Street between 19th and 25th avenues and 28th and 33rd avenues and along the Ocean Beach Promenade between Noriega and Rivera streets.
In the Richmond District, look for the ash cans on Geary Boulevard from Arguello Boulevard to Seventh Avenue and from 18th Avenue to 22nd Avenue. The cans will be in the Ocean Beach parking lot from JFK Drive to Stairwell 18.
The collection cans also will have educational material about the toxicity of the butts that frequently end up in sewer systems and coastal waters. Free pocket ashtrays will be available for smokers to use when they are not near a collection can.
The SF Surfrider Butt Brigade will coordinate cleanups and cigarette butt counts in each area before, at midway and at the end of the pilot program to see if the Hold on to Your Butt campaign was successful.
Cigarette butts and tobacco-related products are the top most littered item in San Francisco.
During a two-hour cleanup in San Francisco this year, more than 4,200 butts were collected at Ocean Beach and Noriega Street, 4,615 at 19th Avenue from Lincoln Way to Taraval Street and 6,000 butts were collected along Balboa Street, according to the San Francisco Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation.
Supervisor Katy Tang said the Sunset and Richmond districts adjacent to Ocean Beach "should lead the way to encourage everyone to recognize that we should all be stewards of the environment and the water even when we are not on the beach."
Ash can installations in the Richmond District began as a community-based effort, Supervisor Sandra Lee said.
"This pilot complements cleanup efforts initiated by residents; this is what happens when a community comes together. In Richmond, we take care of Richmond," Lee said.