Butting out litter in the Okanagan with ‘pocket ashtrays’

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Butting out litter in the Okanagan with Pocket Ashtrays
Butting out litter in the Okanagan with Pocket Ashtrays – Apr 27, 2023

We hear it every spring: “Don’t throw your cigarette butts out your car window.” And yet, thousands are still tossed out drivers’ windows every year.

Smokers have devised innovative ways over the years to keep their butts from littering the ground by using water bottles, jars and pocket ashtrays. Discarded cigarette butts, however, still pose a problem — and a big one, authorities say.

“Cigarettes, campfires, lightning, just about anything causes a problem for us,” said Kelowna fire prevention officer, Paul Johnson.

“With the climate change over the last years, our forests are drier than ever.”

Pocket ashtrays are nothing new, but a Vernon couple is distributing them for free to the public and has developed a recycling program to prevent another firey year in the Okanagan and help clean up the environment.

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Jack and Sarah Elliman are trying to change people’s habits, one smoker at a time.

“Cigarette butts are very much that socially-accepted form of litter. People don’t understand that it’s toxic waste that starts fires, poisons animals, pollutes our water, stunts germination of seeds,” said Jack, co-founder of the Brain Garden.

For a decade the couple has been collecting cigarette butts and handing out free pocket ashtrays, putting more than one million cigarette butts where they belong.

“All it takes [is one of] these weekend-long events where there is one or two smokers sitting on a beach for a day and they are going to leave a huge circle or pile of butts around them if they aren’t equipped with a pocket ashtray,” said Sarah, co-founder of the Brain Garden.

The free pocket ashtrays seal in the smell while keeping hundreds of cigarette butts from polluting beaches, parks and ditches. When the pocket ashtray is full, you can send the remains back to the couple for free so that they can be disposed of properly.

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“The ‘Bucks for Butts’ campaign is essentially a cigarette waste recycling campaign where we help Canadians from across the country recycle their cigarette waste for free,” said Jack.

“When their pocket ashtray is full they empty it into something airtight that doesn’t stink then, go to my website where they can go on my website, click on free shipping label and I will send them a label.”

The pocket ashtrays are also available at various locations throughout the Okanagan. For more information about the program visit

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