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Cigarette Butt Home Insulation: Put Those Butts to Work!

2/5/2010 12:00:00 AM

Tags: insulation, cigarette butts, recycling, London

There’s a lot to hate about smoking (like it kills you). But the worst part for me, when I smoked, was the butts. I could usually find an unoccupied hiding place to pollute with my smoke, but I couldn’t always find a receptacle for my butts. I hated being responsible for the nasty, smelly thing while searching for a trash can.

cigarette butt home insulation
Harrow, a suburb of London, is recycling cigarette butts into home insulation. Photo By Axolot/Courtesy Flickr 

Cigarette butts are one of the most virulent forms of litter. I read recently in Yes! magazine that they make up 28 percent—more than a quarter—of our planet’s litter. And now, instead of being a burden, they could become a resource.

Researchers in the London suburb of Harrow are experimenting with technology that could recycle those cigarette butts into home insulation. Instead of going to the landfill, the butts would be collected during street cleaning, sterilized, broken down and compacted into insulation pillows. Environmental researcher Shaun Grimes told the London Evening Standard that he was inspired when he saw birds lining their nests with cigarette butts.

This is a great example of biomimicry and cradle-to-cradle thinking in action. Like it or not, cigarette butts are now an untapped resource. And, as smoking dwindles across the planet, that’s one resrource we’ll actually be happy to see become scarce.

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