One point four million. That's how many cigarette butts volunteers collected during beach clean-up events in the United States in 2008 alone, according to Ocean Conservancy. Think of how many they missed. And consider all the butts you've seen tossed off chair lifts, or on river banks or on trails. Their collective impact isn't just an aesthetic one.
"A lot of the same elements that are toxic to people who inhale nicotine are also in the butts, and they are in high concentrations," says Martin Mulvihill, the executive director of the University of California, Berkeley's Center for Green Chemistry and the author of an article in Environmental Health News about research into biodisposable cigarette butts. "If a bird eats a few butts, it gets a high dose of those toxins."