We all know that cigarettes are bad for your health. I don’t think I need to expound on the topic much further except to say that if you do smoke, give quitting a shot. As a former Marlboro Light man who has taken his final drag (knock on FSC wood) but still struggles with tobacco temptation now and then, I know it’s easier said than done. Just give it a try … you'll be surprised as to how many people love a quitter. 

But enough with the proselytizing … there’s been quite a bit of news floating around lately about how bad cigarettes, in terms of waste, are for the environment. Not exactly revelatory news but a reminder of how cigarette waste — it accounts for one third of all litter in the U.S. according to an LA Times article from 2008 — is turning our planet into a super-sized ashtray. 

Yesterday, MNN’s own Shea Gunther weighed in on the topic while DC-based student correspondent Richard Luong recently shared his own story about giving up smokes. TreeHugger, The New York Times, and Blue Living Ideas have all broached butts in recent weeks as well. The most effective way to curb cigarette littering is to stop smoking. Duh. But I repeat, easier said than done.

For those who are struggling with quitting and for those who well, don’t care to try, there are ways to lessen your impact on the earth. Again, refraining is the most ideal option but it does help to have an alternative to “smoker’s reflex.”

The most notable alternative comes in the form of the Boodi Eco-Ashtray. This recyclable portable ashtray is ethically made in the U.K. from recycled cardboard and is capable of extinguishing up to five ciggies when normal ashtrays aren’t available. If used properly, the butts extinguished in a Boodi will ultimately end up in a landfill where they still aren’t biodegradable, but the point is that they aren’t ugly-ing up everywhere else. I've seen "pocket ashtrays" around for some time now but they're generally made from plastic. In China. Two big strikes.

Given that this is a green home blog and the Boodi is mainly used when smoking in public places and outdoors, I feel like I should advise on proper ways of dispose of cigarettes at home. There aren’t too many options as long as they’re making it (safely extinguished) into the trash. My advice if you smoke indoors: don’t cover up the smell with aerosol sprays and plug-in air fresheners. You’re just making the situation worse. Try opening a window, putting out bowls of white vinegar, and giving your walls and other hard surfaces good baking soda scrub-downs now and then. 

Images: Akeg, www.Buttsandgum.com

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Saving your butt
Struggling to kick the cig habit and concerned about all the toxic waste you're generating? Read on...