How can I reuse or recycle cigarette butts?

cigarette-buttsThree Beautiful Things‘ Clare sent over a link to a “grim but intriguing” story about someone making fashion items using old cigarette butts >> Cigarette Butt Haute Couture at

When I clicked the link, I imagined it would be outfits along the lines of Herb Williams’ crayon sculptures but it seems to be more of a fabric reclamation project – which makes it considerably less grim in my opinion since fibre is fibre.

Obviously it would be better – for the environment and for the person’s health – if everyone reduced their consumption of them but in the meantime, is there anything else that can be done with them? Small scale reuse/recycle projects at home or are there any industrial recycling/reclaiming schemes?

(Sorry if the picture is making anyone else feel queasy btw!)

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21 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle cigarette butts?”

  1. Ewwwww…. Knowing just some of the poisons in those things I can’t imagine wearing them, no matter how well they’re cleaned. They deserve to be treated like toxic waste, because that is what they are. I’m normally all for recycling and reusing things, but not these. Off to the landfill they go! And hopefully packed well enough that the nastier chemicals don’t leak out.

    I do really feel for people who are addicted. I’ve seen how hard it is for some of my loved ones to try to quit even as higher prices keep eating away at already lean budgets and as they worry about what that new cough means. But at the very least, if you can not find a way to quit, please consider those new electric water vapor cigarettes. They *seem* like they’d be better for the environment and maybe slightly less bad for your health as well.

    • Anonymous says:

      The fact is there’s tons of them everywhere. Shipping them off to some landfill is probably not the best option. However wierd “Butt-art” might be. At least the problem is not being totaly ignored, like it would be with the land fill idea. Out of sight out of mind right? What if they were shredded some how in order to help the breakdown process that Nature has allready started. Given enough time, she’ll get it done. Seems to me we need to quit bitching about the problem, and think of ways to help her along with it. There’s tons of poisins in other kinds filters too. Have we figured out a way to recycle those? If we have. Then I’ll bet it could be a good starting model. If we haven’t. We should. It could be an even better starting model. Imma go start lookin stuff up.

  2. arlee says:

    If you soak cigarette butts in water, you have a pesticide–it will not be absorbed by the plant, and will wash off. I use it as a last resort for pests that have no natural predators in our area. Adding a teeny bit of soap to make it stick to the bug, means it will clog their sphericles and suffocate them. Gruesome, but effective.

    • Patrick says:

      I awoke this morning with a long ago memory of my father & family members smoking on the back porch of our home in Nebraska, some (nearly) 70 years ago. I recalled that they “saved” the butts and kept them in a coffee can with water. My dad would use the solution (I don’t know if he added soap) on our garden plants. It worked. I spoke of this to my wife who suggested I “google” it. Thanks for your comment(s). It’s great to see that I wasn’t “dreaming.” Now, I’m going to have my neighbor save hers for me. (I’m not cheap- I just don’t smoke). Thanks again. Patrick in beautiful SW Florida.

    • Mart says:

      Neo-nicotinoidal pesticides also kill bees and other vital members of our ecostructure, they were banned for a reason…

  3. Arlee, how do you know that those pesticides won’t be absorbed by the plant and will be washed off? People thought that about other pesticides, but actual testing of pesticide loads has proved differently! (But warning, you’ll never eat a non-organic peach again if you read up on that.)

  4. Here in Texas says:

    Using tobacco tea as a pesticide is very, very effective… and also quite dangerous for humans as well as insects. Human skin has pores and so do leaves- these are portals for absorption of anything placed on its surface that is small enough to get into them. You can fertilize plants through their leaves and you can absorb medications transdermally. The catch about tobacco tea is that it should never, ever be used on food crops, because it is absorbed by the plant (then you)- and if you’re an organic gardener, it’ll kill all of your beneficial insects along with the bad guys.The only acceptable use for tobacco tea is on ornamentals. Tobacco works on nerve tissue- it’s a central nervous system stimulant- if you do use this tea, you MUST make sure it is NEVER left where children and pets could get to it… it’s highly toxic… and if you do insist upon this remedy, wear gloves. Do not let it touch your skin otherwise you could make yourself quite ill, too. Lastly, I wouldn’t apply it on a windy day, either. Hope this helps you out.

  5. Shaun says:

    I think I’ve solved the problem.

  6. Shorty says:

    You guys are all thinking about natural, Indian-style tobbacco cigarettes as pesticides, I don’t know how strong the cigarettes there are, but the ones here are chock full of chemicals. I doubt you’d want all that anywhere near a plant you’ll be eating.

  7. Shaun Grimes says:

    I’ve solved the problem of cigarette butt recycling. Please look at my website.

  8. Beth Redstone says:

    Remove the paper, soak the tobbacco in water, strain and use as a bug repellant in the garden.

  9. amelia says:

    DO NO put the tea talked about here in your soil or on your plants. If it were just tobacco, maybe but cigarette butts include arsenic, formaldehyde, chromium and lead. Indeed, there are 1,400 potential chemical additives. Toxicological data has shown that these chemicals from discarded cigarette butts are capable of leaching into surrounding water where they can harm aquatic life. Nicotine has been shown to be lethal to species of fish, crustaceans, zooplankton, and other aquatic organisms, as well as being a known insecticide. On top of leeching toxins, cigarette butts present an ingestion, choking and poisoning hazard to wildlife who mistake them for food, and because cigarette filters are composed of cellulose acetate, a form of plastic that can persist in the environment for long periods of time. Plastics of this sort have been found in the stomachs of sea turtles, fish, birds, whales and other marine creatures.

  10. John the chemist says:

    Four points:

    1) If you look on any materials industrial database, contrary to Anti-Tobacco’s indoctrination, you will find that cellulose acetate IS biodegradable.

    2) Nicotinic pesticide is approved for organic use. Nicotine is an allelochemical. ALL plants naturally produce them to ward off pests. Those from the Curare plant, a long, poisonous vine loaded with alkaloids, are used by Amazon natives to tip poison darts. How toxic are those from a carrot, apple, cauliflower……… ?

    3) “Arsenic, formaldehyde, chromium and lead” – arsenic, chromium and lead and many other ‘nasties’, including polonium-210, are absorbed by ALL plants from the soil and the atmosphere. Formaldehyde is produced naturally by the human body.

    4) “There are 1,400 potential chemical additives.” EVERYTHING is constituted from ‘chemicals’ – there are MILLIONS of them in the human body. The vast majority of these ‘chemicals’ are natural spices, herbs and oils or approved food additives. (Does everyone eat their food raw?)

    • pablada says:

      John the chemist,
      Can we talk further about this?
      I would like to work with the idea…
      I click notify via email… hope you did too!
      Looking forward hearing form you.

  11. John Smith From Back East says:

    Although many elements and compounds are indeed in cig butts, one must factor in that they have been somewhat dissipated by low heat, the water further weakens presence of the so called “nasties” by reducing parts per million, inducing further dispersion through the tea. Soak em and then toss them. Some recycle gain if using the tea there, a TON of paranoid environmental worries can be put to ease by truly considering enzymes, elements and compounds in your own saliva. You would not lick it up if you drooled, but you swallow it daily, hourly, by the minute and second for that matter. Try it, don’t try to baffle others with B.S. That is not the point here. We can all spout out multi-syllable words. That means what to someone with pest issues?

  12. Kiah Zepeda says:

    I just want to know if anyone knows what I should do with all my cigarette butts?. Do they go in a regular trash container? Is there a way I could recycle them? A place to take them or anything alike?.


  13. hassan says:

    hi,please can you tell me more details about recycle cigarrete butts and can be used for what ,thanks

  14. robert says:

    yes please, can someon answer hassan? :) i wud also like to know.

  15. beau burgess says:

    How bout we pay broke folk by considering butts a recyclable, treat them as paper or old cotton(?), and turn all this crap into insulation or cheap third world clothing. Is that insensitive?…sorry…sorta’. I’m thinkin’ like tires for shoes here. Better yet insulation. With the coming tax hike, pay half a penny or a full one per butt not a bad gig i think. Somebody get somebody to pay somebody to put up the recycling center.

    I also like the idea of mosaic a bunch of butts in one big piece of art, do as you will, then coat it in some clear resin for the smell and you’re set.

    Food for thought?

    See yas.

    Quit smoking.

  16. D Andor says:

    Ship the butts off to Seoul to make supercapacitors or China to make an anti-rusting agent for steel. Use the ashes to make highly effective water filters to take out arsenic from water supplies. Just a couple suggestions.

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