A 22 Year Rids Paris of Cigarette Butts By Hand, Makes a Dress, and Saves the Rainforest


Image Courtesy of Le Mégot Défi. Flore's map of where's she's made collections. Click here for an enlarged image and details.

Stereotypes about Parisians are well known: the snobbery, the love of stinky cheese, the baguette under the arm and the cigarette on the lips. I won't comment on the first three, but the fourth holds up pretty well. Certainly, not everyone in Paris smokes, but there are a lot of smokers, and, as a result, tons of cigarette butts strewn all over.

The state of affairs annoyed one young Parisienne enough that she decided to do something about it. So, for the last three weeks, she's been moving through the City, collecting thousands of butts. And what's she doing with them? She's making a dress, of course.Flore, a 22 year old with a degree in international relations and the president of a small environmental group called Vents Solidaires, has called the project Le Mégot Défi: the cigarette butt challenge. Frustrated by her neighbors' contradicting willingness to properly throw away trash and recycle and insistence on tossing their butts on the ground, she decided to do something about it.

Cigarette butts are a real problem for the environment: they never actually degrade, breaking down a bit only after 12 years. The estimated 845,000 tons of cigarette butts that are tossed annually around the world are dangerous to marine life and negatively impact water quality.

Now on day 18 of the 20 day challenge, Flore has collected a whopping 2,850 cigarette butts! And she did that in about 100 total minutes, spread over eight collections in different parts of the City. Now, she's turning her full attention to the second part of the challenge: the making of the dress she calls "Lulu". (Amazingly, she's not the first person featured on TreeHugger to choose butts as a clothing material.)


Image Credit: Bouba M'Baye. See more pictures here.

But Le Mégot Défi is not solely about cleaning up Paris. Flore is taking advantage of the media and public attention she's getting to support a group called Coeur de Foret (Heart of the Forest), which works for the sustainable development and protection of the Peruvian rainforest. So if you don't feel like kneeling down and cleansing your own city of its dirty habit, and aren't interested in clothing made from trash that has been in both a stranger's mouth and on the street, consider making a donation!

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More on the good green fight against cigarette butts:
Trillions of Killer Cigarette Butts Can Be Recycled to Fight Rust
Artist Turns Cigarette Butts Collected by Street Cleaners into Woven Rug
Deposit on Cigarette Butts? Recycling Program Proposed for New York

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