Julian Melcer collects cigarette butts from the shore of the Mediterranean Sea as part of his environmental campaign, at a beach in Tel Aviv
Julian Melcer holds a plastic bag filled with cigarette butts he collected from the shore of the Mediterranean Sea
Photo: Reuters
Julian Melcer collects cigarette butts from the shore of the Mediterranean Sea as part of his environmental campaign, at a beach in Tel Aviv

For Israeli cigarette butt collector, every day is Earth Day

Julian Melcer, 26, prowls the beaches of Tel Aviv every day with a large plastic bag, picking up butts that litter the shores and apparently contain 'most toxic single-use plastic on the planet'; he then sends them for repurposing

Reuters |
Published: 04.22.21 , 14:39
Julian Melcer is cleaning up a Tel Aviv beach, one cigarette butt at a time.
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  • Prowling the shore, a large plastic bag in hand, the 26-year-old Israeli treats every day like Earth Day, picking up butts and selling small pouches he calls pocket ashtrays to smokers to deter them from littering.
    3 צפייה בגלריה
    Julian Melcer collects cigarette butts from the shore of the Mediterranean Sea as part of his environmental campaign, at a beach in Tel Aviv
    Julian Melcer collects cigarette butts from the shore of the Mediterranean Sea as part of his environmental campaign, at a beach in Tel Aviv
    Julian Melcer collects cigarette butts from the shore of the Mediterranean Sea as part of his environmental campaign, at a beach in Tel Aviv
    (Photo: Reuters)
    "I'm here to protect the world," he said. "It's burning in my soul, it's burning in my bones, it's burning in my eyes when I see trash on the beach."
    Melcer said it's also a living, earning him about $3,000 to $4,000 a month during the summer from the sale of the pocket ashtrays for $6 each.
    3 צפייה בגלריה
    Julian Melcer collects cigarette butts from the shore of the Mediterranean Sea as part of his environmental campaign, at a beach in Tel Aviv
    Julian Melcer collects cigarette butts from the shore of the Mediterranean Sea as part of his environmental campaign, at a beach in Tel Aviv
    Julian Melcer holds a plastic bag filled with cigarette butts he collected from the shore of the Mediterranean Sea
    (Photo: Reuters)
    The Tel Aviv resident has been at it for three years, starting out by creating artwork from butts he collected and then finding a way to recycle his large haul.
    Stuffing butt-filled plastic bags into boxes, Melcer mails them to the NoButts organisation in Ireland, which extracts their plastic filters for repurposing.
    He estimates that he and others in his volunteer group in Israel have picked up about one million butts.
    3 צפייה בגלריה
    Julian Melcer collects cigarette butts from the shore of the Mediterranean Sea as part of his environmental campaign, at a beach in Tel Aviv
    Julian Melcer collects cigarette butts from the shore of the Mediterranean Sea as part of his environmental campaign, at a beach in Tel Aviv
    Julian Melcer collects cigarette butts from the shore of the Mediterranean Sea as part of his environmental campaign, at a beach in Tel Aviv
    (Photo: Reuters)
    On its website, NoButts says cigarette filters are the "most toxic single-use plastic on the planet". It estimates that some six trillion butts are littered worldwide every year.
    "It's super important because cigarettes hurt nature, they hurt the beach, and I love the beach - it's my home," Melcer said about his campaign.

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