Walking across McMaster campus this summer reminded me of how beautiful the school really is after a bleak and cold winter: frisbees airborne across the rich green fields, bicycles buzzing around the freshly opened pathways; and clouds of toxic fumes leaching upwards from the thousands of smoking students. Smoking cigarettes is an engrained social culture that has been around for decades everywhere in the world. As our knowledge of smoking and it’s health concerns grows our system of handling smoking has changed from doctors prescribing cigarettes to calm patients nerve’s to banning smoking within entranceways and bus stops, reducing second-hand smoke.
But what happens to all of our cigarette waste?
The answer is littered everywhere: sidewalks, roadsides, flower pots; literally anywhere a cigarette can be thrown is where they end up. It’s no secret how many harmful chemicals are contained within cigarettes, harmful chemicals that when tossed aside are allowed to slowly leach into groundwater and soil!
It has recently seemed appalling to me the lack of containment of these chemicals and lack of proper disposal; that is until now. This summer TerraCycle has implemented the first cigarette recycling program in Canada, available at no cost to every citizen. How it works is once a minimum amount of cigarette butts are collected by an individual or organization TerraCycle will send prepaid postage to allow the collection to be sent to their processing plant. There, the organic compounds within the cigarette are turned into compost while the non-organic chemicals are recycled into plastic bins.
On top of this, a credit of approximately 1$ per pound of waste is given towards a charity of the choice of the donator.
So now we have a free recycling program for cigarette waste that in turn puts money towards NGO’s and charities....looks pretty awesome to me!
Now let’s see how well a program like this can be implemented in institutions such as McMaster, cleaning up our backyard while donating at the same time. So if you do smoke, we can at least try to make up for all these years of terrible waste collection by providing some financial support and environmental peace.