Let's (not) kick butt
Cigarettes are one of the greatest sources of ocean waste – reported in CNN (25th Jan 2019)
Cigarette butts have been the single most collected item on the world’s beaches, with 4.5 trillion cigarettes dropped on streets worldwide. Two out of every three cigarettes end up wrongly disposed of. Cigarette butts are now clogging the oceans. When tossed into the environment, it is not just the cellulose acetate (plastic) that is harmful, the cigarette butt has multitudes of chemicals and heavy metals that are then absorbed into the surroundings.
Most products around us have a linear lifecycle: production - use – waste. Circular design is the practice of extending the lifecycle of the product with value added, from a linear one to a circular one. This project looks at repurposing the massive amount of cigarette butts that are wrongly disposed of and exploring its potential as a sustainable material - upcycling toxic waste into attractive homeware. Designer Sachi Tungare adds value to waste by ecologically cleansing and then casting the cigarette butt fibres made of cellulose acetate, into unique organic forms with vivid patterns. This ensures no two products are the same.
Having collected cigarette butts from the streets and cleaned them using ecological agents, an extensive study was carried out. In this project, Tungare explored cigarette butts' potential as a sustainable material, from treating it with toxin-free chemicals to make it safe for human contact, to dissolving and casting it into various moulds. The end result is a wide range of products: storage objects, vases, coasters and even paper; to name a few.
Scientists are studying and developing ways to recycle cigarette butts and there has been some progress in that area. My approach as a designer has been to create visual representations of cigarette butts, by upcycling them into objects of daily use. It acts as a reminder of the fact that your actions have consequences. Flicking a cigarette after having smoked is the most natural habitual action. However, collectively, it has a grave impact on the environment. This project demonstrates that there are better ways of disposal and better ways of treating waste.
Information submitted by the maker and edited by the Future Materials Bank.
Cellulose acetate, enzyme based bleach, natural dyes, solvent, water