It's estimated that 12 billion cigarette butts are discarded on streets or in nature every day globally. That’s close to 140 000 cigarettes every second! This makes it the most littered item in the world.
Most cigarettes have plastic filters - called cellulose acetate. Like most plastic, the cigarette filters also decompose very slowly and they easily end up in waterways and eventually in the ocean. Like the plastic itself wasn’t bad enough, the filters are also full of toxins that can be harmful to both plants and animals.
Despite all of this, many don’t consider cigarette butts as litter, and too many smokers keep flicking their butts on the ground. Lack of awareness seems to be the main reason why this continues, why we at D’BRIS decided to shine some light on the problem.
We met up with Bodil Forsgaard, a local hero and artist devoted to fighting cigarette pollution, and together we collected cigarette butts for 3 hours in Copenhagen. It ended up being a great experience with many people coming up and thanking us and even helping out. We didn’t cover much ground but yet we managed to collect about 6300 cigarettes. There is no doubt that this problem is serious and we hope that we managed to provide some inspiration to the local community to better understand the severity of cigarette litter.
This is what 6300 cigarette butts look like. Next time we will go bigger!