Cleaning up a dirty butt

For a New Year’s resolution, Dave Wilson decides to give up one of his filthy habits. But the pressure of writing an editorial puts paid to his noble idea for good.

<b> ‘He who doth not smoke hath either known no great griefs, or refuseth himself the softest consolation, next to that which comes from heaven.’ – Edward George Bulwer-Lytton.</b>

Did you make a New Year’s resolution this year? Well, I always make one. And yes, folks, it’s always the same one. I always resolve to give up smoking.

Things usually go just fine until the first hour of the first day back at work. Then, faced with the deadline demands to create yet another weekly editorial for this newsletter from our beloved publisher, I succumb to the deadly habit again. And then it’s more money up in smoke for the rest of the year.

Trouble is, of course, it’s really not good for your health – or so I’ve been told by my doctors. And worse still, it’s bad for the environment. Especially, if like me, you are prone to dropping your cigarette butts all over the place causing an unsightly mess and a hazard to wildlife.

Well, sad to say that the giant cigarette companies haven’t yet come up with a safe cigarette that I can enjoy down the pub with my colleagues after work. But more positively, a couple of students at the University of Northumbria have come up with a way to reduce the environmental impact of the residue from my filthy habit (Not that filthy habit, surely? – Ed.).

Yes, that’s right. In December last year, Lisa Hanking and Lucy Denham, both second year students on the University of Northumbria’s Design for Industry course, came up with the concept of a biodegradable cigarette – and what’s more, took joint first prize in a sustainability project organised by Northumbria’s School of Design and Chester-le-Street District Council.

The “environmentally-friendly” cigarette uses expandable vegetable starch for the filter which would simply be washed away by rainwater. The paper would be made from recycled hemp, which is cheap and also fully biodegradable. The use of organic tobacco would prevent fish and other wildlife being harmed by pesticides which are still used by the large tobacco firms.

So while we all wait with bated, smoky breath in anticipation for the cigarette companies to respond to this environmentally-friendly initiative from the academics in Northumbria, it’s time for me to go off for another environmentally-unfriendly smoke in Centaur Communications’ smoking suite to celebrate the completion of yet another editorial masterpiece.