Our parks and recreations areas are cherished as places to escape, for families and friends to gather, and to cheer for a child’s team. So it’s important that we take every possible step to protect these parks from litter. Cranbury Township is not immune from litter and works hard to reduce it in their parks.
The most common form of litter on Earth is the cigarette butt: trillions of them are littered worldwide each year. Made of plastic, the filter portion of a cigarette butt persists in the environment for up to ten years after it has been flicked to the ground. Not only that but the toxic chemicals contained within the filter leach out into the environment. Recent studies have shown that the chemicals leached by cigarette butts are lethal to aquatic life. When the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association conducts our annual stream clean-ups each year, cigarette butts are one of the most frequently collected types of trash.
In order to help protect our parks and waterways, the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association has been advocating for towns to enact smoke-free parks ordinances. These ordinances prohibit smoking in a town’s parks, cutting down the amount of litter and pollution that results from discarded butts. Cranbury became the latest town in the watershed to pass such an ordinance when their Board of Health unanimously voted to enact it at their June meeting. This was the result of a months-long process of Watershed staff working with the Environmental Commission, Parks Commission, and Board of Health in Cranbury to help craft an ordinance that met the town’s needs.
Cranbury becomes the 13th town in the Watershed to adopt some form of smoke-free parks ordinance. We will continue to help more municipalities realize the collective negative impact that cigarette butts have on our environment, and to work with them to protect their parks.