Woman collects more than 40,000 butts off beach; says ban is necessary

Tags: , , , ,

Submitted: Fri, 03/09/2012 - 1:53am
Updated: Fri, 03/09/2012 - 3:47am

WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC (WWAY) — The warmer weather means it’s finally beach season, and that means thousands of people will make their way to Wrightsville Beach. As the town prepares for the 2012 tourist season, the Board of Aldermen are also considering a new smoking ban. Locals say they plan to speak out about this ban tonight at a public hearing.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s freezing cold in December or 90 degrees in July, it’s the same thing,” said smoking ban supporter Danielle Richardet. “It’s always cigarette butts. So I think it’s time we start fixing that.”

For more than a year, Richardet has been collecting cigarette butts off of Wrightsville Beach. So far, she has collected more than 40,000. She says a smoking ban is necessary for the beach and she hopes it will soon be passed. Richardet says cigarettes are different from other litter, because they trap toxins, causing a much more severe threat to the environment.

“Toxins such as nickel, cadmium, lead and arsenic, those are in the filters,” said Richardet. “So as soon as those filters hit water, they begin leeching into our environment. Essentially, it’s no longer litter, it’s toxic waste and we have that on our beach.”

Richardet says if the ban is not passed, the problem will only get worse.

“It’s never ending and if it doesn’t get passed, I guarantee I will have picked up 50,000,” said Richardet. “I will have picked up 100,000.”


  • O Face says:

    Does Ms. Richardet drive a car? Does Ms. Richardet have a job that requires her to actually be there to limit her free time?

    Wait a second…

    Think we just found our next landfill and it’s address starts at 100 Causeway Dr…

    Bringing my trash to the new landfill tomorrow!! Catch me if you can!!

  • taxpayer says:

    North Myrtle Beach uses motorized sand rakes to filter/clean the sand. Why aren’t machines like this used here?

  • Jessica says:

    I think it is wonderful and extrememly honorable that a independent citizen would go out and help to clean up the trash and waste left behind by other people. Unfortunately the problem is much bigger then a few people going out to clean up. I don’t believe a ban on smoking is so out of the question given the fact that smokers don’t have the moral desency to clean up after themselves.
    To the gentlemen who thinks we should ban drinking on the beach if 40,000 soda cans are picked up. I say yes. If in 20 minutes a few people could pick up 425 soda cans in one area I would hope something was going to be done. That is enough soda cans to fill the bed of a pick up truck. It would turn the beach into one of those ball pits kids play in.
    Just because cigeratte butts are small doesn’t mean they should be over looked they are toxic and ugly.

  • Guest757 says:

    here’s an idea put ashtrays (you know the tall ones that the stores have) it is a proven fact that if you have them most people will use them…

  • O Face says:

    Hey smokers, smoke away baby, smoke away!!! Butts all around!

    Their rights end where ours begin!!

    Wrightsville Beach = Elitist pricks

  • Employed smoker says:

    The word of the day is “J.O.B”. You need one, badly.

  • Guest Reply says:

    First of all…it should read “Cigarette Butts” and not just Butts!
    Second of all…those cigarette butts have to be from those from out of town…because we all know here, that there’s an unwritten rule stating…”Welcome to Wrightsville Beach…NOW LEAVE!!” and most locals comply. And $2 and hour to park??? Just close the darn beach and be done with the issues that make it a “Less then perfect beach”. As soon as Mother Nature brings in a slammin’ hurricane and destroy’s a lot of the clutter over there from million dollar homes,etc., then the residents will Beg everyone to come back and spend money. Nuff said!
    Nah…one more thingy…I’ll just stay clear of a place that has only one exit any way :-) They could make it so you pay a $10 fee to cross the bridge and do away with parking meters (don’t think it hasn’t been discussed). That way they’ll will accomplish sooner what they’re trying to do now…drive people away. Hardy Har Har Har!

  • Lisa says:

    Danielle is an amazing person. The fact that she gives her time to try and clean up the beach is amazing. She is right about the dangers with this type of litter and many people don’t even know that the filters are plastic and will never go away.

    Smoke free beaches are also great since so many people now have asthma and are unable to enjoy a time at the beach if people are smoking. Keep up the good fight Danielle!!

  • GuestFun says:

    I know what you’re hugging and humping in Hugh Mcrae park and it ain’t trees.

  • Heartfelt kudos to Danielle & her family for taking their own time to clean up tens of thousands of examples of other people’s carelessness & thoughtlessness. Shame on any commenter here who hurls abuse at someone who’s one goal is to make a cleaner, healthier, and safer beach for her family — and all families — to enjoy.

    The world is waking up to the realities of cigarette litter & pollution. It’s in all of our gutters, parks, playgrounds, riverbanks, planters, and sadly, beaches. And slowly but surely we’re also waking to the reality that there is simply zero excuse for it.

  • Guest8 says:

    I am in total support of this ban and so are many others. Unfortunately, many smokers feel that they can just drop their butts anywhere and those of us that do not smoke, suffer for this. I am not against someone having the freedom to smoke, but for those that do to be respectful and not dispose of their butts at the beach or any other public place for that matter. Is that too much to ask? We wouldn’t be at this point if people were doing the right thing in the first place. I applaud Danielle for having the courage to come forward and address this issue. I personally do not think that it is that someone has too much time on their hands, but rather that she is doing a great service to our community and the environment not to mention that she is being an exceptional role model to her children. Instead of attacking this mom, how about you offer a positive solution to this big problem. The beach is not an ashtray and should not be treated as one.

  • SmokeChokeCroak says:

    You people need to get your heads out of your butts. Cigarette butts kill our marine wildlife. If something is not done we humans will destroy the beautiful world in which we live. If you want to smoke – go smoke, but do not litter our beaches, do not exhale your nasty smoke into my airspace and most importantly do not expect me to pay for your increased cost of health care due to your nasty addiction. Yes smoking is an addiction and if you smoke you are an addict.

    If it was not for people like Danielle Richardet who is not afraid to speak up and take action, then this great country that we call home would never of been. Our founding fathers spoke up and changed a government. Everyone who supports Danielle Richardet and a Smoke-Free Wrightsville Beach needs to speak up at the ballot box in 2013 and elect new Alderman that will support a Smoke-Free Wrightsville Beach. Speak up and replace your elected officials. Good Luck and keep fighting for what you believe in.

  • Sarasota Danielle says:

    I’m a resident of Sarasota County, Florida. Here, our beaches have a smoking ban. Our beaches are considered part of the county park system. Here in Sarasota, you don’t get to smoke in our parks (praise be)! Parks are family places. Sarasota stood up and said people exercising in parks, playing and enjoying these great places shouldn’t be smoked out by 2nd hand smoke. Our beaches are Blue Wave beaches and one beach is the #1 beach in the country. Smoke-free is also beautiful and drives tourism too!

    Like Danielle, I pick up trash on my local beaches… I too must have too much time on my hands, according to some previous thread posters! I regularly walk the beaches for exercise. As I see trash laying on the beach, left by careless people I can’t consider stepping over it and walking on. I term myself as an environmentalist. I hate to see the beautiful beaches I love trashed. Further, I am well aware of the detriment of trash on sea life. As there are aquarium hospitals nearby, it has been shown in necropsies of sea turtles and many other animals that there is trash and plastics found in their bellies from the carelessness of litter bugs. Butts get in there too.

    Considering the toxins in the filters such as nickel, cadmium, lead and arsenic, in the filters, how can people not be bothered? Who knowingly wants to have a kid build a sand castle with those deposited in the sand?

    So, I stand with Danielle Richardet and her family who believe that living in this world isn’t about just taking, it is giving, too. There’s a term for beings that just take… parasites. Fortunately, there are people in the world who want a CLEAN, SAFE, HEALTHY environment for themselves, their children, the animals and future generations. If that’s what it means, having too much time on your hands, I am proudly with them!

  • Sarah says:

    I am shocked by the negative comments towards someone who is trying to clean up other people’s litter and protect our beach from toxins! Rather than sitting back and watching our beach turn into a giant ashtray, she gets out and does something about it.
    It was presented at the meeting last night that 20% of adults are smokers. Well, 100% of small children are nonsmokers combined with the 80% of adults. This is a sad case where the majority has to suffer for the actions of the minority.
    The Board failed the citizens on this one.

  • david says:

    Well done Danielle. The folks who knock your initiative seem only capable of flinging abuse rather than offering anything constructive. If those “knockers” spent time trying to improve the environment for the benefit of the majority we would all be better off. It takes a lot of belief and effort to improve matters and only a second to fling ill considered abuse. You have my, and a lot of others, full support. David

  • Sarah Schumm says:

    40,000 of any kind of litter is too many. I don’t understand how anyone can defend littering and pollution in the name of “personal freedom” what about my personal freedom to not have someone’s bad habit trigger an asthma attack? What about little kids building sand castles? Don’t they have a right to a clean beach? What about people who fish? They have a right to eat fish that aren’t contaminated with toxins from cigarette filters. Smoking bans on beaches are pretty commonplace in California and they make a lot of sense. What this woman is doing is inspiring, there’s no reason to attack her for trying to make the beach cleaner for her family and others.

  • Kay Johnson says:

    I think all of you are missing the true purpose of the ban ~ to keep the beach beautiful for ALL to enjoy. If smokers picked up after themselves, this wouldn’t be a problem. This is a beach, not a giant ashtray for cigarette butts. To me it is just plain common sense, too bad others don’t see it that way. Keep up your good work Danielle ~ I know with all of your hard work this will come to be a smoke free beach!

  • surfsalterpath says:

    Any smoker has the right to smoke. People do not have the “right” to trash public beaches. Ban smoking on the beach strand goes far in protecting the ‘rights’ of others enjoyment of a clean beach. Sadly, many thoughtless smoking peers trash the beach for everybody. I would kindly suggest the smokers police their own if you do not like a ban possibility. If smokers keep trashing the beach, a smoking ban will eventually be implemented.—has been in 126+ beach communities with tremendous success. Just a matter of time~
    Next on the agenda is the:
    “Wrightsville Beach Board of Alderman Litter Pick Up Day”
    ——>join the wrightsville beach board of alderman in their efforts to help Danielle Richardet and Family and Friends continue efforts to continue towards 100,000+ butt litter bottled up for display. Since 3 of the wrighstville beach board of alderman think a smoking ban limits individual freedoms it’s time for them to see the results of their decisions. More butt litter trashing the beach for everyone. Sad.

  • This is a fabulous campaign spearheaded by an equally fabulous woman and it’s outrageous to me that so many of these comments are just mean and thoughtless. Instead of generating so much hate and negativity, why not take the time time to look into this issue and see how much work has gone into this project. The world doesn’t need more unpleasantness, it needs more people like Danielle doing wonderful, inspiring things.

  • Lzr says:

    The only people who have too much time on their hands are the ones who speak so derisively of such a hero. This woman has taken time out of her busy life to try to save the ocean by picking up after her fellow citizens. Nobody wants to do that kind of work; it’s disgusting. She’s doing it to help others. Birds, fish, etc, aren’t littering, they’re a natural part of the ecosystem. Smokers who litter – any people who litter – are not behaving naturally, they’re being irresponsible and damaging the earth irreparably. Seriously, what kind of idiot is opposed to a clean healthy environment for your kids to enjoy?

  • ILM NATIVE says:

    the soldiers that are fighting and dying ARE heroes..this chick sure is NOT a hero..DUMMY

  • laura ann says:

    Here is a video of passion for a clean Wrightsville Beach.
    Anyone who thinks these efforts are misguided, we pray for you.


    Thanks to the Richardet Family and their wonderful Friends for efforts
    picking up 40,800+ and counting butt litter this past 1.5 yrs.

    Are YOU a cause of the problem? Or a solution?


  • ILM NATIVE says:

    are NOT plastic. The amount of smoke you would get in the open air at a beach would not trigger asthma that is just plain BS. If you smell (which is doubtful) it move 2 feet away and that is the solution..but you feel that only YOU should not be inconvenced…Go to Hugh Mcrae Park there are many trees for you to hump and hug.

  • guesty says:

    If she isn’t living off government assistance, she doesn’t have to have a j.o.b. She has the time to clean up after lazy smokers that view the world as their ashtray.

    BTW, use your mobile phone to go to NCDOT website where you can report littering from vehicles. If the car has a NC license plate, the owner will get a letter in the mail letting them know they (or whoever was driving their car) were spotted throwing trash out. If even includes pickups that let trash blowout of the bed.


  • wb says:

    I can’t imagine anyone having an issue with what Danielle is doing. When was the last time you put in this much time and effort for your community?

  • Paul says:

    Butts are made of cellulose acetate, a type of plastic.
    Do your research before making statements!

  • Paul Sharp says:

    Any demographic that abuses our public spaces should lose access.

    If smokers can’t smoke on the beach without littering a ban should indeed be implemented.

    If you are a smoker that wants to smoke on the beach start taking responsibility, spend 20 minutes each time you visit picking up butts and tell anyone you see dropping butts to pick them up.

    If you can’t do that don’t smoke on the beach.

    Great work Danielle. If only everybody would spend half the time you have making this world better.

  • surfsalterpath says:

    I do not think anyone suggested she was like a soldier hero.
    This ‘chick’ is a different kind of Hero in her own right.

    Are you part of the problem? ….or part of the solution?

    Think before you write stuff that makes you sound
    well, you know, ……… ~

  • surfsalterpath says:

    Drinking on the beach was banned in the late 70’s. We HAD to go around and explain the only way to drink alcohol was to put in a cup. Other types(diapers/cans/bottles/paper) of trash do not hold a candle to the amount of ‘butt litter’ on Wrightsville Beach. This is the most damaging litter nastiness people leave on the beach. The key to being good stewards of Beach Patrol is to explain cans and bottles are not allowed …..and when I was there most people listened and understood the reasoning behind this type of ‘communist’ ordinance. People today would understand the same and put the smokes away, especially since there are non-smoking ordinances on the books(restaurants/bars/etc). It is terrible many smokers do not abide by normal decency of packing their ‘butt litter’ off the beach and choose to stuff into the sand. Personal ashtray is on YOUR beach. When the tide rolls in the toxicity of the “butt litter’ is transferred to guess where? Yep, the fishes you eat for health and pleasure. 3 voted against? Give me a freekin break.

  • Gusto says:

    sounds like to staying away is not such a bad idea…you have missed the point altogether

  • wilmingtonborn says:

    There are all kinds of Hero’s, not just our military fighting for us, we have many other battles to fight.

  • ILM NATIVE says:

    You have too much time on your hands. Let’s see boats pollute the water so ban them. Fish crap in the ocean ban them. Birds crap in the ocean ban them. Piers with creosote pilings pollute the ocean ban them. Sewage that leaks from the city sewer system pollutes the ocean, close them down…in other words GET A LIFE. GO HUG A TREE and be happy.

  • Quit picking on others says:

    Seriously? She is choosing to have a life…and for you too…and your children. The ENTIRE world has so much litter everywhere and it needs to stop. Butts are just one part of the problem! She’s bringing attention to a VERY major problem we have.

  • Pam says:

    I think you may be missing the point. Danielle is not asking you to quit smoking (although you probably should), she is asking you not to litter the beach. Since that is obviously not going to happen, there has to be consequences. It is against the law to litter but look at any intersection in Wilmington and the road is littered with cigarette butts. It may not be you that is throwing the butts down, but someone is. Danielle is one person who is trying to clean up the environment for the health and enjoyment of all of us. She is not trying to hurt you or anyone else by removing your right to smoke. It is the same thing we do to our children…if they don’t pick up their toys, the toys are removed. We are simply trying to teach them responsibility. Be responsible and don’t throw your butts down and the issue would be solved. Keep up the good work Danielle.

  • ILM NATIVE says:

    I really think your agenda is the same that WrightsvilleBeach has had for years to try and run off anyone who does not live there by making it hard to come and enjoy it. Just remember that when the next storm comes and you want everyone to pay to renourish YOUR beach. Personally WB could fall into the ocean andd I could not care.

  • Guest33 says:

    That is a good idea. Just like anything else, from time to time, just go out there and pick them up…. So what is the problem….

  • DEBRA WARD says:

    bet u could collect 40.000 soda cans to does that mean we need to quit drinking soda on the beach i pay taxes i have just as much right to enjoy the beach and a cig to

  • gusto says:

    Debra, I assume you would be happy for others to sit in your yard and leave butts all over the place. Perhaps you would be happy to let children pick them up and play with them ,despite the fact someone has been sucking away on them and that they are full of tar . chemicals etc. The same guests would be allowed to leave soda
    cans all over your yard as well I guess?
    You seem to think that whatever you do is OK and to hell with anyone else?
    You speak of rights….but you have ignored the fact that rights come with responsibility !!…
    If decent citizens considered others, including the environment, for humans and wildlife alike, the problem would never have arisen.

  • Guestgustd says:

    Smokers see the world as their ashtray! It never fails to amaze me to see people with a “COEXIST” bumper sticker fling their butts out the window of their cars, not thinking of the environmental damage they are causing to the world around them! They are selfish, lazy and just stupid (because they’re killing themselves at the same time!).

  • Not! says:

    Did you seem to forget that not everyone is the same?! I refuse to leave them lying around!!! If i’m in public, I pick them up even if they’re not mine, (along with other stuff) and throw it out! I don’t go putting blame on a “certain” group, because I know that everyone is different, it would be stupid of me to think otherwise! You must be categorizing people into groups because your lazy, selfish and just plain stupid and want to put the blame on others!

  • ILM NATIVE says:

    Do you drive a car? If you do you are lazy so walk and cut down on the carbons you are producing. You want everyone to conform to your way of thinking so you are selfish. Your comments are stupid, so I guess I covered all your remarks…liberal nutcase.
    You better hope people don’t quit smoking because your taxes would go up because of the lost revenue. Don’t even try to say you pay for my health care I pay higher premiums for smoking and that was one of the things big tobacco settlement was over for them to pony up money for increased health care costs. So quit whining and as far as COEXIST I don’t care to.

  • Guest2264 says:

    This woman evidently has WAY too much time on her hands. And she counts them?
    A better idea would be for these pro-no smoking on the beach folks to obtain those small cigarette butt containers for individuals. Then pass them out to people they see smoking on the beach. I have one and use it! I got mine at the Earth day festival, it’s great, closes, fits in your pocket, I empty it when I get home!

  • Quit picking on others says:

    Seriously? Too much time on her hands? hello? At least ONE person wants to take care of the environment and take care of YOUR earth too. I’m so tired of people criticizing others. Danielle has NEVER criticized anyone and just wants to make the earth a better and healthier place for EVERYONE to be on. Cigarette butts are just the top of the line, we need to quit littering and pick up after ourselves. How ridiculous. You have time on your hands too, but is anyone gonna criticize you for how you choose your time? Probably not. So quit picking on someone else.

  • Guest21 says:

    did u happen to find the blood worm i lost ,if so,leave it near the inlet to masonboro.

  • Guest99 says:

    I agree that it would be impossible to enforce a law to ban cigarettes on the beach. However, maybe instead of using budget money to hire more authorities to enforce such a law, that budget money could be used to educate our towns people and visitors of the dangers to the environment and wildlife/sealife. Educate and encourage people to be considerate of one of our most beautiful beaches in the area and our environment as a whole! because if they don’t, they will be coming here in the future years with their children/grandchildren and it will be trashed! and everyone will be wondering WHAT HAPPENED TO OUR BEAUTIFUL BEACHES!!

  • Pete says:

    I don’t think that The City of WVB has the authority to enforce such a ban. The Beach is federal land.

  • nonsmoker says:


Leave a Reply