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Green Your LifeRecycling

Are GreenButts Environmental Cigarettes Going Too Far?

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Cigarette butts make up nearly 25% of collected garbage which degrade and allow chemicals like cellulose acetate to enter the earth and groundwater.

It’s rare that we come across an environmentally-friendly alternative to a common item that just isn’t beneficial. More often than not, anything that can reduce the carbon footprint that’s placed upon the earth even the smallest amount is a step in the right direction. A new innovation tests this ideology and that’s because it promotes harm to the human race while improving the environment.

GreenButts has produced cigarettes that don’t have the same toll upon the environment when the filters are tossed aside. In fact, the biodegradable cigarette filters do environmental good; if they find their way into soil they have components that will eventually grow a tree.

In support of GreenButts, it’s possible to argue that smoking is a personal choice. Tobacco may be harmful to an individual’s health, but they’re not causing irreparable damage to a world that future generations will have to live with. They’re simply polluting their own lungs and perhaps also those of their closest loved ones. Looking at green cigarettes from this perspective puts the issue on a smaller scale than the environmental damage that is caused by the discarding of billions of cigarette filters every year by those who, despite the repercussions to themselves and the environment, will continue to choose to smoke. It might not be possible to make people stop smoking, but with green cigarettes, it can lead to environmental good rather than degradation.

Unfortunately,  it’s also the environmental good that can be used as an argument against the production of GreenButts and it’s a simple one. Can it not be said that by making smoking an even more positive experience, it’s encouraging people to continue to smoke? They might help reduce the toll to the environment while risking the health of the population, in turn putting the environmental health before that of the human race.

There are other arguments that could be spoken to with regards to this issue as well, such as the negative effects of cigaratte smoke upon the environment. But, for the sake of this debate, let’s see it at face value and focus merely upon the effects of the butts.

Share your thoughts. Is GreenButts an environmental concept going too far? Or is it simply a realistic environmental alternative for something that we cannot change?

Image Credit: stevendepolo via flickr under a CC License




6 comments
  1. David

    There are a mountain of reasons not to smoke, and I highly doubt making butts less damaging to the environment will be a meaningful factor relative to the other reasons to quit.

  2. planetthoughts

    Personally, I would not spend my time on decorating a dangerous product with greenwashing in this way.

    Cigarette smoking is too dangerous to cover up with an otherwise nice idea, i.e. being compostable.

    Perhaps the manufacturer should offer to donate a free pack of GreenButts to place on top of the grave of each of their smokers who dies. That would allow a tree to grow… that would show how user-friendly they are as a company, right?

  3. Libby Smith, Ph.D.

    Cigarettes are an inherently environmentally destructive product. Even if the filters are made of a biodegradable material, they are still full of smoking residues, including heavy metals such as cadmium, and toxins such as arsenic (not to mention nicotine — also highly toxic). I find it hard to believe that anything would grow out of such a product. Furthermore, tobacco-growing uses many pesticides, and the tobacco curing process is contributing to massive deforestation in African tobacco-growing countries and in Brazil. Smoking itself emits polluting smoke. And contrary to the first commenter, it is not the additives that make tobacco dangerous. Tobacco itself contains tobacco-specific nitrosamines and polyaromatic hydrocarbons that are known to cause cancer. The only truly environmental action is not to smoke.

  4. penelope

    As a part time smoker I love the idea!!! I think a lot of the dangerous chemicals come from all that is added to a typical cigarette filter and tobacco. Greenbutts indicates that it is intended to be used with additive free tobacco which in theory would make it a lot less toxic….or at least as healthy as smoking pot…which a ton of people in california are trying to legalize right now!

    Also seeds need to be cultivated…just throwing your cigarette on the ground is probably not going to grow anything….I have a hard enough time getting my plants at home to sprout 😉

    Im all for creative solutions to help solve our biggest problems…this is not a silver bullet… but it is a definite step in the right direction!

  5. karmalily

    I think smoking cigarettes is always a bad idea – I've been influenced by having my grandfather die when I was seven from lung cancer, and now my mother is suffering the consequences of smoking. She just had an entire lung removed from cancer. It's very personal to me. However, it's still a personal choice, and since it's unlikely that people will give up smoking on a purely environmental basis, GreenButts is a better option than continuing to do harm for the environment. I don't think environmentally-friendly filters will encourage people to smoke more or less.

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