Cleaning beaches

Elizabeth Shewan, Staff writer

This summer, as part of Mercyhurst’s continuing efforts connected to the Adopt-A-Beach program at Presque Isle, Mercyhurst will be installing cigarette canisters at Beach 10 in May.

Mercyhurst adopted Beach 10 in 2012 and has participated in beach-cleanups since then. These cleanups occur once a month during the school year, and data has been collected at each one.

Sarah Bennett, a Biology lecturer, who has taken over the program as of this year, will be working closely with Keep America Beautiful, a national organization with state and local affiliates whose grant made the installation possible. In addition, she will be collaborating with Millcreek Township, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Erie County Recycling and Keep Erie County Beautiful.

“Hopefully we’ll see a decrease from cigarette butts found on the beach,” Bennett said.

Data concerning the amount of cigarette butts found on the beach from before the placement of the canisters will be compared with data which will continue to be collected from beach clean-ups after their placement. The number of cigarette butts placed in the canisters will also be collected and recorded by students working for the Biology Department this summer.

The grant from Keep America Beautiful will fund four cigarette collection canisters, as well as pocket ashtrays, which will be distributed to beachgoers. It also has a public education component.

“What I’m planning is to have a day at that beach where we’re there with a table and we can provide information,” Bennett said.

The cigarette butts collected from the canisters will be taken to the Tom Ridge Environmental Center and then sent on to TerraCycle, a company which will recycle the butts by removing the toxins and using them to make composite bricks to be used in building.

Mercyhurst will continue working with Keep America Beautiful and other organizations at the local, state and national levels, publishing findings throughout the process. Through the efforts of staff, students and associates, Presque Isle will hopefully become cleaner and even more beautiful.