Cigarette Butts Are the Number One Source of Ocean Trash

iStock
iStock

The health consequences of smoking have been well-documented, but cigarettes can continue to do harm long after they've been stubbed out. As Business Insider reports, cigarette butts account for the largest source of trash in the world's oceans, outnumbering plastic items like straws and water bottles.

Even with cigarette sales sharply declining in recent years, the amount of litter they produce remains significant. It's difficult to recycle filters and often dangerous to throw them in the trash with flammable materials. With public ashtrays scarcer than they once were, many smokers opt to leave the remains on the ground.

Most filters contain cellulose acetate, a non-biodegradable type of plastic. So instead of breaking down over time, the waste washes into streams, rivers, and, when they're disposed of on beaches, directly into the sea.

The Ocean Conservancy estimates that roughly 60 million cigarette butts have been collected from the ocean since the 1980s. Unlike other waste items that pollute the ocean but often get more attention, including plastic bags and six-pack rings, cigarette filters can inflict serious damage on marine life. They contain many of the same chemicals as full cigarettes, including nicotine, lead, and arsenic.

Some unusual initiatives to clean up cigarette butts have been proposed over the years, including training crows to collect them and using them to pave roads, but real change needs to start with cigarette smokers. Instead of leaving them on the sidewalk, filters should be extinguished and safely stored until there are enough of them to send to a special recycling center that handles difficult-to-recycle materials. TerraCycle will even send you a special recycling receptacle designed for collecting cigarette ashes and filters.

[h/t Business Insider]

These Hoodies Are Made From Recycled Plastic Bottles and Used Coffee Grounds

Coalatree
Coalatree

Sustainable fashion is getting creative. Different manufacturers have made “leather” out of everything from mushrooms to pineapples, as well as an environmentally-friendly fabric derived from banana peels. Now, drawstring hoodies made from used coffee grounds and recycled plastic bottles are hitting the market.

The Evolution Hoodie is the latest product from Coalatree, a Salt Lake City-based company that specializes in goods made from sustainably sourced materials. To create this hoodie, employees typically collect used coffee grounds from local shops on their way into work. Next, they dry the coffee, remove the oils, grind the grounds into smaller particles, then mix it with the melted plastic bottles to create a type of yarn.

More specifically, each hoodie is made from three cups of coffee and 10 plastic bottles. And in case you were wondering: it doesn’t smell like coffee (which may be a good or bad thing, depending on your personal tastes).

The hoodie is ideal for those who want to incorporate more eco-friendly products into their lives, and Coalatree's clothes are designed with active, outdoorsy types in mind. (Outside magazine, for instance, called Coalatree’s Trailheads the “best hiking pants.”) Its lightweight, quick-dry fabric and UV ray protection make it suitable for a number of outdoor activities, such as hiking, biking, or kayaking.

With a pickpocket-proof zippered pouch to store your things, as well as a loop to clip your keys onto, it’s also travel-approved. If you get hot, you can take the hoodie off and fold it up into its own pocket, transforming it into a makeshift travel pillow. The hoodie is currently available in a few colors, including oatmeal, black, maroon, and green.

Buy it on Kickstarter for $62.

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The Northern Lights May be Visible in New York, Michigan, and Illinois on Saturday

iStock.com/den-belitsky
iStock.com/den-belitsky

The Northern Lights, a meteorological event most common to areas north of the Arctic Circle, may be visible over parts of America this weekend, Newsweek reports. Due to a solar storm, the light show may appear Saturday night over states in the northern part of the contiguous U.S., including New York, Michigan, Illinois, and Washington state.

Aurora borealis, or the Northern Lights, occur when solar particles react to gases in Earth's atmosphere. Magnetic energy exaggerates this effect, which is why auroras most often appear at the geomagnetic poles where Earth's magnetic field is strongest. Rare circumstances can produce this phenomenon at lower latitudes, which may be the case this weekend.

On Wednesday, March 20, a solar flare sent a blast of solar particles toward Earth. The resulting geomagnetic storm could make for a vibrant and colorful aurora reaching as far south as New York and Wisconsin.

To catch the spectacle, look up at the night sky on Saturday, March 23. People in areas with minimal light pollution have the best chance of seeing the Northern Lights, though cloudy weather may make them hard to see.

[h/t Newsweek]

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