Minnesotans Need to Keep Our Water and Air Clean

The ClearWay Minnesota team worked hard to create the sandcastle for the Aquatennial competition. The "sick fish" encourages Minnesotans to keep cigarette butts out of our beaches and waters.

Summer is time to enjoy our wonderful Minnesota waterways. So this past weekend, my family and I participated in the Aquatennial Sandcastle Competition. We created an atypical sandcastle—a fish who is sick from eating cigarette butts—because we wanted to remind Minnesotans about the dangers of cigarette litter.

Research shows 80 percent of littered cigarette butts find their way into our water systems, and preliminary results show that the chemicals seeping out of cigarette butts—nicotine and ethylphenol—can be acutely toxic to fish and micro-organisms.

One laboratory study found that a single cigarette butt in a liter of water killed half of the fish exposed. Almost 53 million cigarette butts and filters have been collected from beaches around the world in the past 25 years. In fact, they account for 30 percent of all debris collected—over three times more than any other item.

It’s clear Minnesotans put a premium on clean lakes, rivers, and beaches, because our water is a natural resource. Remember, you can help keep our water clean. Let’s work together to reduce cigarette butt litter in our communities—especially on our beaches.

View the video of team ClearWay Minnesota's sandcastle.

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