ISRAEL (CBS) — Cigarette smoking in America has decreased dramatically in the past decade, but cigarette butts remain the most littered item in the U.S. and around the globe, according to EarthDay.org. One man in Israel is determined to do something about it.
While others enjoy the beach, 26-year-old environmental entrepreneur Julian Melcer is there to save it. Call him a professional butt remover. He picks up used cigarettes on Israel’s beaches. “It’s burning in my soul, it’s burning in my bones, it’s burning in my eyes when I see trash in the beach,” he says.
The trash is a big problem for oceans. Environmentalists say cigarette filters are the most toxic single-use plastic on the planet. Worldwide, it’s estimated trillions are tossed every year.
Melcer has picked up thousands, then the pandemic hit. With plenty of time on his hands, he was able to collect more, and more, and more. Now he turns one person’s trash into another’s treasure by creating artwork. Melcer says the cigarette butts that aren’t turned into artwork are shipped to a company in Ireland which recycles their plastic filters.
Melcer also sells cigarette pouches for a few dollars, so people keep their butts off the beach.
Melcer is a man on a mission. He says he’s “just trying to save the world,” and make Tel Aviv’s beaches a better place.