Cigarette litter is an environmental hazard growing exponentially, gripping the globe.  Cigarettes are reportedly the most littered item in America; an astounding 130 million butts are discarded every year in Texas alone.  The product of its vast and fragile environment, Australia is largely an eco-friendly nation, although cigarette waste is a mounting concern.
In response to this issue, the Australian government has enacted a number of policies including littering fines, Enviropoles safe waste disposal units and educational advertising campaigns.  While effective, based on the age-old adage of “Think globally, act locally”, here are three cigarette waste management initiatives to implement from your own backyard:
  1. Educate yourself.  The majority of littering smokers consider that cigarettes are a form of non-biodegradable matter.  Acknowledging that cigarette litter is of critical concern to our eco-systems, it’s our job to learn the effects – short and long-term of this issue.  Educate your friends, community and most importantly, your children; not only against the dangers of smoking, but how smoking effects society on a whole.  There is a library of resources available online regarding this topic.  Visit and
  2. Learn the consequences. Unfortunately, we are a society motivated primarily by monetary incentives; some will not cease to litter, that is, until it affects their hip pocket.  In 2010, the Victorian Government enacted the law making cigarette littering punishable by a $234 fine, which has risen to $288.72.  The intangible consequences of discarded waste are more damaging and longer-term.  One cigarette butt has the capacity to pollute up to eight litres of water; our environment pays the ultimate price.
  3. Look to the future.  How will your local beach look ten years from now if the issue of cigarette litter is not addressed?  Currently, over seven billion cigarette butts are discarded across Australia every year and without investing in infrastructure to manage this waste, the quality of life for all Australians will be ultimately affected.  

To combat this environmental issue, join a community of like-minded individuals who are focused on sustainability.  In 2001, 20-year-old Princeton student Tom Szaky founded TerraCycle, a US-based company that repurposes cigarette waste into new products.  Now, TerraCycle works with more than 100 major brands in the US and 24 countries, and has attracted the support of the big tobacco companies.  The success of TerraCyle proves that there’s no initiative too small or localised, to make a significant impact on this global issue.