Cigarette butts - environmental problem that has it's innovative solutions

by Rosen Lozev

Institution: Roskilde University
Year: 2015
Keywords: Planning; Environment; Nature
Record ID: 1120788
Full text PDF: http://rudar.ruc.dk/handle/1800/17463


This report is an experimental design study investigating the topic of cigarettes from an environmental point of view. A topic that has met little attention in the research literature compared to the well-known adverse health effects that cigarettes are causing to the human body. Cigarette butts are the most littered item in the world, they are toxic and as such they are threatening the existence of valuable ecosystems, imposing irreversible damages due to wildfires and loss of biodiversity due to leached chemicals in the environment or the animals consuming them by mistake. Ironically enough, they are not perceived as an environmental problem by the mass public or even by governmental officials as proper interventions to deal with this issue are still severely lacking. This master thesis aims at amplifying the severity of the cigarette butts by highlighting the negative impacts that this debris is causing on the environment from a life cycle perspective. Furthermore, it investigates the reasons leading to the abovementioned paradox through the lens of knowledge creation and dissemination over time (ontological & epistemological values), as well as providing some considerations on why and how environmental aspects could enter the smoking constellation when addressing smoking related problems through the modes of knowledge production. Perhaps the highest input of this thesis to the field of environmental planning and the already published research on the harms of cigarette butts is when it comes to the practical interventions used in the case study of Roskilde University canteen, which could potentially diminish this environmental burden to a great extent. The one month cleaning campaign carried out on the principles of awareness raising and nudging methods provides an interesting alternative to the already existing approaches to deal with the issue, by mainly focusing on altering a positive change in smokers’ behavior while giving them the free choices (facilities) to make the right decision – use the ashtrays. The findings of this experimental design study indicate that the cigarette butt issue could be and should indeed be considered a prominent threat to the environment; a threat that can be remarkably diminished in certain occasions such as the case study.