Place your vote while binning your butt… your cigarette butt
  • Tuesday 09 April 2019

Do you prefer budgie smugglers or boardies? Queensland or NSW for the 2019 State of Origin? These are some of the questions that will be put to Alexandra Headlands residents through a voting ballot bin for cigarette butts.

For those near the Alexandra Headlands Surf Life Saving Club in need of a clever and convenient way to dispose their cigarette, ‘voters’ can now place their butts in one of two sides of the bin. Based on their ‘votes,’ the side with the most butts wins, so to speak.

Initiated by Alison Foley of Ten Little Pieces as a way to generate awareness and education about proper disposal of cigarettes, the voting ballot bin was installed as a three-month trial in partnership with Alexandra Headlands Surf Life Saving Club, CleanWater Group, and Sunshine Coast Council.

Division 4 Councillor John Connolly believes this social experiment is a wonderful demonstration of a collaborative partnership between council, community groups and established businesses, as well as a clear reflection of council’s vision to be Australia’s most sustainable region – healthy, smart, creative.

“Through this project and council’s community-based Marine Debris program, we are aiming to encourage a behaviour shift and raise awareness about littering and its detriment to our community and environment,” Cr Connolly said.

“I encourage everyone to take part in keeping our beautiful Sunshine Coast clean; it’s in our hands.

“Alongside regular monitoring and servicing of the cigarette butt voting ballot bin by Alison Foley, our Parks & Gardens crews will continue to routinely pick up litter and monitor the number of cigarette butts in the area and share that weekly data to the project team.

“CleanWater Group will also collect rubbish and data from the Gross Pollutant Traps (GPTs) in the area before, during and after this trial.

“All this data collected will inform council’s future litter management plans and communication.”

The idea for this unique project was created during an engaging brainstorm session between Alison Foley and council staff.

“We saw a similar concept work in Cairns, Blacktown, NSW and over in the UK, and given our wonderful tourism industry along the coastline, we thought that Alexandra Headlands was the perfect spot to test out this interactive disposal method,” Ms Foley said.

“We know that cigarette butts are the most littered item throughout the world.

“Here on the Sunshine Coast, 13,814 cigarette butts were collected along the coastline by 1,900 volunteers in 2017/2018 through council-assisted clean-ups.

“While it will be fascinating to review the data for disposed and littered cigarette butts, it will also be a fun opportunity to learn a bit more about our community through the voting questions.

“Through this project, we hope to see a reduction of cigarette butts within the Alexandra Headlands parks and on the beach and an increased awareness of cigarette butts as ‘litter.’”


Image: Sandie Johnston of EnviroCom and Alison Foley of Ten Little Pieces at the installation of the voting ballot in for cigarette butts.