Cigarette butts are everywhere. We see dozens if not hundreds or thousands of these yucky wastes littering on our streets, parks, beaches, and in many other public places.
As we all know, cigarette butt are primarily used as filters—specifically made out of cellulose acetate, plastic, and cellulose acetate fibers to absorb vapors and accumulate smoke components including toxic chemicals.
Therefore, these things are not just unpleasant litters, they are toxic that cause serious environmental and health issues. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), smokers worldwide discard around 340 to 680 million kilograms of cigarette butts in 2014 alone. That’s a lot of toxic wastes scattered in our environment.
A surfer from Santa Cruz, California named Taylor Lane is aware that cigarette butts are the most common trash on the shoreline. He collected 10,000 of these litters on the Central Coast of the state and used them to build a usable surfboard.
Lane submitted his surfboard as entry to the third annual “Creators & Innovators Upcycle” contest by Vissla and Surfrider Foundation. Upcycle means reusing or transforming by-products and waste materials into new materials into something useful.
Paul Naude, the founder of Visla explained that the contest encourages creative thinking regarding sustainability. He said, “This new culture is asking questions today. What are we doing to the environment?”
Lane’s surfboard made out of 10,000 cigarette butts impressed the judges in the contest. They declared him the winner this year. His surfboard is also made out of Styrofoam from fish markets, EPS foam, and fiber glass cut-offs. The resin was made from soybeans.
Cigarette butts are “the most polluted item picked up on the beach and no one thinks twice that you can do anything with it,” said Lane as quoted by the Orange County Register.
Lanes surfboard and other finalists in the contest were displayed at the Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano on October 20.
A visitor in the Ecology center, Karyn Buky of Rancho Santa Margarita, commented, “Who would have thought cigarette butts would have been beautiful? She added that Lane’s surfboard “gives you and awkward feeling that something so pretty is so icky at the same time. It’s amazing.”
Lane’s friend, Ben Judkins helped in gathering cigarette butts during the summer in Santa Cruz. He also helped Lane film his surfboard project with an aim to share a message.
Judkins said, “People see this board and they are visually drawn to it, it’s visually disgusting — but awesome in how gross it is. It just ties together surfing and something we care about — the environment, the ocean, and the health of the ocean.”
Last year, the winner in the contest was Francois Jaubert of France. His surfboard entry this year won the second prize. It is made out of recycled wood box.
Jaubert said, “I did this with garbage. We can have a little bit of thinking, a little bit of creativity. It’s way more fun to give a new life to a dead material. This used to hold carrots. Now, it’s surfing.” He added, “We should be smart enough to use what society gives us for free.”