Addressing #cigarettes at Lake Merritt

Our first Zero Litter Blitz was held on Saturday, March 7th. The previous week we scouted our research area and met our new friends from Skyline and Mission High School who helped us document litter from FairyLand to the pillars next to the Lake Merritt Library Branch.  We decided to pick up all of the litter on the first time and realized that cigarette litter made up the majority of our data. We decided to focus on only cigarette litter for the second Zero Litter Blitz.

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Litter data around Lake Merritt.

After going over the data from our Zero Litter collection days, we realized that despite the ban on smoking in the park, people are smoking and leaving their cigarette butts in the park. This create a huge issue with the health of the Lake Merritt Estuary because of the toxic chemicals contained in the filters. Not only do they make a place look trashy, they pollute the area and kill wildlife that consume them by mistake while looking for food.

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After just 30 minutes, One intern filled a glove with cigarette butts while collecting data at a Litter Blitz

We decided that we wanted to help reduce the amount of cigarette litter ending up in the estuary by installing ashtrays along walkways were people walk to get to the park. We teamed up with Lake Merritt Institute to get the ashtray containers and began planning for our third Litter Blitz on Earth Day.

On April 18th, we met at the Rotary Nature Center and planned out our day. We got to talk with Lake Merritt Institute to check out the ashtrays we were going to install and then went to businesses next to the park to see if they would adopt an ash tray. We collected initial data before installing our ashtrays at each business sites.

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An Example of an ash tray adopted by a local business and installed!
Ash trays installed at litter hot spots
Ash trays installed at litter hot spots

So far we have successfully removed almost 1,000 pieces of cigarette litter in just three Zero Litter Blitz events! We still have a lot of work to do but we are excited to see if installing ashtrays near the parks will help reduce litter in our watershed. We are currently making plans to host another Zero Litter Blitz to assess the impact of installing ashtrays as well as to install more with businesses along the lake.

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-EcoMatic (Oakland High EarthTeam Interns)

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Posted in WAP

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