The amount of discarded cigarette butts you pass day-to-day…
The majority of places that you will go whether it’s walking through a park or walking along the beach, you are more likely to pass at least one (or more) pieces of cigarette waste. More than a piece of regular everyday rubbish.
Cigarette waste may look as though it’s fairly harmless, however, cigarette butts themselves are probably one of the most harmful and overall toxic pieces of waste around. Cigarette butts can, and do result as one of the main components that lead to sea pollution and can, in the long run, cause major harm towards wildlife. Why is it then, that as a society we’re so oblivious to them, as they’ve become such a normal sight, that we don’t even look twice?
Some think cigarettes have been around as early as the 16th century; where people decided to pick up discarded cigar butts (cigars going back as far as the 10th century) , shred them and roll them into scraps of paper for smoking, first originating in Seville (Spain). These were considered a luxury item. As time went on, over more time they have become a lot more poisonous in content, more of an everyday common item.
Children as young as 11-15 across the UK a shocking number of 3.7million are thought to have taken up this highly addictive habit. Cigarette smoking during childhood and adolescence causes significant health problems among young people. Some of these health problems include, an increased number of respiratory issues, a decrease in physical fitness and potential effects on lung function and in a child’s case, lung growth.
This is a result of them carrying harsh chemicals such as arsenic (one of the main ingredients in rat poison), residue of metals (which leads to secondary pollution causing surface and subsurface damage) and of course nicotine.
Nicotine releases toxic air pollutants so, when the butts are left around as litter, the toxins will seep into the soil causing soil pollution.These organic compounds seep into the aquatic ecosystems, becoming toxic to aquatic life. One full cigarette butt has 1.22 grams of CO2. CO2 is a colourless acidic gas which under a vast amount of exposure can become harmful to all living things.
Who does it benefit?
4.5 trillion cigarette butts are discarded every year worldwide!
Approximately 23.7 billion cigarettes were released for consumption in the UK in just 2021 alone. 5.5 trillion cigarettes were estimated to be sold within a year, worldwide in a survey taken in 2016. Rates since then have increased rapidly as times gone on, meaning more waste to have be left around building up.
Just taking as little as half an hour throughout your day to safely (with gloves and/or other protective gear), pick up and correctly dispose of, as many pieces of cigarette waste as you come across, will help prevent decades worth of potential damage to not only; the world we live in, but ourselves, and all those we love and appreciate.
If this issue doesn’t bother you, take the time to think.
What about them?
The campaign originally started, towards the end of July in 2019. It became an important movement to help demote bad habits such as the commonly found, discarding of cigarette butts, worldwide. Especially when it was proven that there were more cigarette butts littered than plastic straws which was around that time a major issue which had arisen for the sake of sea life and other animals. Which has been partially resolved by the enforcement of paper straws which have been found to be more efficient and biodegradable. There’s still a long way to go.
A group of French teenagers were the first to introduce the ‘fill the bottle’ idea by deciding someone needed to take action to make their own impact on helping the environment, the campaign itself is a simple and effective way to make your mark. People online seeing the attraction this brought were intrigued to try it out for themselves. This led to many people, worldwide to partake
We decided to run a challenge to bring some awareness back to the topic. We felt this isn’t widely spoken about so we hope that our input adds to the environment. The #fillthebottle campaign has been ongoing since July 2019. If you or someone you know throws their cigarette butts on the ground. Maybe consider talking to them about disposing of it correctly in a suitable bin. Suitable bins for cigarettes are found around most public places. They do alter in appearance making some easier than others to locate. So try looking around
When disposed of in your own general waste bin it can be broken down into a fuel source. This will go towards helping to generate low carbon energy to be used for our UK energy recovery facilities. This technology burns waste at a high temperature under carefully controlled conditions for all non-recyclable waste.
As a team we decided to host a campaign, bringing light to the issue by encouraging people in all different areas to compete with others, to see who could fill a plastic bottle with found cigarette waste.
The challenge has ended but we encourage all of you to pick up your litter. Together we can all make a change slowly for generations to come!
For this year we aim to do more for our community and the environment.