WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- The abundance of cigarette butts in the oceans and the toxic chemicals they contain have posed risks to many forms of marine life.
- That’s the reason why industrial designer Taylor Lane and a friend volunteered in beach cleanups in Northern California.
- The two friends successfully designed a functioning surfboard made out of cigarette butts they’ve collected from the cleanups; that board went on to win a competition.
In 2008, the Chicago Tribune ran a story about a coastal environmental organization in New Jersey that said about 1.7 billion pounds of cigarette butts annually end up in lakes, oceans and on any beach in the world.
For several years, these chemical and microplastic-filled discards are the top finds reported in cleanups across the globe. Experts have agreed that the damage these inflict on the environment is undeniable.
Furthermore, a study at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, England, revealed that cigarette butts inhibit germination affecting plant growth. Other experts have also maintained that because the plastic contained in the filters are not biodegradable, these pose a choking hazard to marine animals.
Californian industrial designer Taylor Lane and a friend dealt with the problem by volunteering in beach cleanups in Northern California. While doing so, they were able to collect 10,000 cigarette butts- enough to create a functioning surfboard. Later, that board went on to win an international competition held by the surf company, Vissla in collaboration with The Surfrider Foundation.
“[I] found out about this contest that Vissla and Surfrider was holding which prompts people to create articles of surf craft from upcycled materials, and so I picked cigarette butts. And, lo and behold, ‘ciggy board’ came to life.” Lane told In The Know.
Since then, Lane has transformed the project into a marketable brand known as the ‘Cigarette Surfboard’. He and filmmaker Ben Judkins are currently working on an environmental surf-inspired movie that focuses on littering using his ciggy boards. He said that so far, the reviews have been very positive.
“We’ve gotten messages where it’s like, ‘Hey, I’ve got 20,000 cigarette butts in Australia that I’m ready to send you.’ I’ve had other people say, ‘I quit smoking because I saw this board in your story,” said Lane.
While Lane acknowledges that their project doesn’t largely solve the problem, still, “it’s to show that this is something that we should talk about and then it becomes ‘what can we do?'”
Ultimately, Lane hopes the board will encourage more discussions regarding the detrimental effects of cigarette litter on the environment.