Today cigarette butts are identified as one of the largest environmental hazards we face on the planet. From Texas to Dubai, Italy to Indonesia, governments are being warned of this major unchecked pollution. The numbers are truly staggering. The cleanup costs to cities and towns: enormous. Once you start looking for discarded cigarette butts you'll be amazed to notice how many there really are. It's pretty disgusting.
I believe in KippiPaks, a product we feature on this site. “Kippi” is a personal, extinguishing ashtray the size and shape of a business card is actually a pouch for lit butts and chewing gum. It’s reusable, made mostly of paper – no plastic involved – and is the genius idea of Toronto inventor Bruce Winnacott, now in his 80s. The KippiPak puts out a butt in just over five seconds. Fold over the top and the pouch is small and odorless, designed for you to carry with you to the nearest garbage can, empty and reuse. (Or collect for TerraCycle, also featured on this website.)
In November 2009, on behalf of KippiPaks, Alex and I attended the Solid Waste Management conference in West Virginia where Keep America Beautiful released its comprehensive litter audit. Cigarette butts were, by far, the most worrisome aspect of litter proliferation. We're talking 32 billion non-biodegradable, poisonous cigarette butts a year being discarded in America alone. In West Virginia, where KippiPaks are distributed at major events, cigarette litter has been reduced by more than 80%. Smokers receive a KippiPak enthusiastically. They want to keep it. Until we can stop smokers from flicking their butts everywhere, building KippiPaks into cigarette packages makes a lot of sense. When I wrote to the CEO of Rothman's with this idea and some Kippi samples, I didn't even receive the courtesy of a response. But that story is for another post.