The Cigarette Problem
Cigarettes are most known for the health threats inflicted on their uses. However, it is often overlooked the detrimental effects they have on the environment.
Anna Lappe once said, “Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want”. With the frequency with which we spend our money it is easy to forget that every purchase we make that does not promote sustainability, leaves a trail of destruction in its wake.
If I have noticed one thing during my time in Milan is that the only thing Italians purchase more of than coffee is cigarettes. I’m sure when we all think of cigarettes the first thought that pops into our heads is the long lasting and detrimental effects they have on the human body. Not only for first hand smokers, but for everyone subjected to their cloud of chemicals. However, it is often cast aside the long term effects cigarettes have on our environment. The average cigarette can take anywhere from eighteen months to ten years to decompose entirely, depending on the conditions they are disposed of in.
Whether it be a busy sidewalk or a garbage bin, the damaging effect of cigarettes does not stop once the smoking ash is extinguished. The components of the plastic that make up cigarette butts, cellulose acetate, has a very slow decomposition rate. Also let it be said that plastic can never fully decompose. It breaks down into tiny microplastics that get washed away down into our sewers and out into the waters of our world. Let it be noted that cigarettes are not only detrimental to the environment after they are disposed.
The effects cigarettes have on the world begin with their origins.