Cigarette stubs are the most commonly littered items in the world. In fact, 4.5 trillion of them discarded every year. To draw attention to this little-known fact, Indian designer Sachi Tungare collected five kilograms (11 lbs) of cigarette butts by hand to create a collection of multi-colored bowls and vases.
The collection, which consists of 10 different items, are each made from cellulose acetate derived from 300 cigarette filters.
“They’re as bad of a problem as plastic straws, if not worse,” Tungare told design magazine Dezeen. “They essentially consist of plastic cellulose acetate fibers and a paper wrapper, along with multitudes of harmful toxins and chemicals that get leached into the environment.”
After collecting jars upon jars of cigarette butts, she had them amalgamated together and used as a raw material to create the art pieces. “The material is thoroughly cleaned using ecological cleaning agents before it is dissolved, mixed with color and water, and then quickly cast into molds,” said Tungare. “The nature of cellulose acetate is such that, when its solution comes into contact with water, it forms a precipitate.”
In other words, part of it solidifies in the mold and separates from the remaining liquid. That liquid is then poured away in a process that gives rise to the fluid, organic formations that feature throughout the collection.
Tungare named her collection Jugaad after the notoriously untranslatable Hindi term that describes solving a problem in an improvised yet ingenious way with the limited resources at hand. Looking ahead, the Indian designer wants to scale-up the project by working with a recycling center that collects cigarette butts from local restaurants, pubs, and venues.
At the Optimist Daily, we would love it if cigarettes became a thing of the past, but for now, it’s inspiring to see an artist turn such a dirty form of waste into something beautiful.