The Friends of Grant Park have been organizing beach cleanup events for many years. Trash collected is typical for any beach popular with the public: beer and soda cans and bottles, candy wrappers, styrofoam cups, plastic water bottles, butane lighters, drinking straws, occasional discarded baby diapers, shotgun wadding (OK, maybe not so typical for your average beach), and of course cigarette butts. Butts take the cake for the vast amount of them collected each and every year. Our partnership with Alliance for the Great Lakes allows us to access their data from beach cleanups taking place nationwide, and clearly cigarette butts outnumber any other form of trash. Smokers typically toss their cigarette butts anywhere and everywhere they smoke, but at a public swimming beach in a natural setting of a county park, they are litter pure and simple, and toxic litter at that.
Several of our members have had it with butts, and we are discussing ways to address this litter problem. We will follow up with more details as we develop a plan of action. As of 2017, the following Wisconsin counties have banned smoking in their parks: Brown, Columbia, and St. Croix. The village of Shorewood, and cities of Appleton, Greenfield, and Verona have also done so, including Wisconsin Dells. In the meantime, here is a short article that explains cigarette butt toxicity: https://truthinitiative.org/news/5-ways-cigarette-litter-impacts-environment