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How to reuse cigarette butts on World No Tobacco Day

For World No Tobacco Day, we list a few ingenious projects that reuse cigarette butts and while not solving the litter problem, they offer at least some useful possibilities.

That tobacco is dangerous to one’s health is no secret, but did you know spent cigarette butts are also dangerous to the environment? Not just because they are a fire hazard, but cigarette filters contain plastic, which does not biodegrade.

Californian surfer Taylor Lane assisted in a beach clean up, where he picked up cigarette butts, the most common polluted item there. After collecting 10,000 of them, he turned the spent cigarettes into a functional surfboard. His board won first place in the Vissla Creators & Innovators Upcycle Contest 2017.

Birds sometimes use cigarette butts to build their nests as the synthetic fibres keep their eggs warm, and the nicotine keeps parasites out. This inspired designer Isaac Monté in 2013 to create prefab birdhouses made from cigarette butts. Read more about this project here.

By turning cigarette butts into yarn, the material can be used to make knitwear, Chilean designer Alexandra Guerrere experimented with the material almost ten years ago. Cigarette butts do not only contain plastic, but also potentially dangerous ingredients, so the butts were cleaned before they were shredded into a wool-like material. The cigarette filter material was then combined with wool (the yarn contains 10 per cent cigarettes) before they were turned into garments.

In 2017, designer Isaac Monté also created knitwear made from cigarette butts, containing no sheep’s wool. For more about this project, click here.

Roads and houses
Researchers at RMIT University in Australia found that by adding cigarette filters to bricks, the energy needed to fire them can be cut by up to 58 per cent. In addition, the bricks also have better insulating properties and are lighter.

In a follow-up study, RMIT showed that mixing cigarette butts with asphalt reduces thermal conductivity. For more about these studies, click here.

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