SANTA CRUZ, Calif. - Taylor Lane doesn’t smoke, but he managed to collect 10,000 cigarette butts from beaches that were used to cover a recycled surfboard and win an environmental awareness contest
It only took the Santa Cruz man and a couple dozen beach cleanup volunteers roughly 25 hours over several days to amass the butts--mostly Marlboros and Camels, but also foreign makes from China, India and elsewhere.
“It occurred to me that cigarette butts are a largely polluted item and there is nothing really you can do with them,’’ said Lane.
But Lane and his buddy, Ben Judkins, did do something.
With the butts from beaches in San Francisco and Santa Cruz, they vacuum-sealed them to the board, covered it with fiberglass and entered it in the third annual "Creators & Innovators Upcycle Contest," hosted by the Vissla surfing gear brand and the nonprofit Surfrider Foundation.
“The idea was to bring awareness to ocean pollution, what the problems are and what’s being done to fix them,’’ said Lane.
The contest aims to inspire wave-conscious folks to turn an old or found object into functional wave riding craft, such as surfboard, skim board or fins, to raise awareness about plastic pollution.
Mary Herbranson, partnerships manager for the Surfrider Foundation, said studies predict that by the year 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean.
“A lot of people don’t realize that plastic doesn’t biodegrade; it photodegrades and breaks into smaller pieces so virtually every piece of plastic ever created still exists in some form today,’’ she said.
Lane, 24, had the top entry amid 40 wave riders made from potato sacks, used packaging, stuff picked up from Dumpster dives, even an old bathroom door.
Francois Jaubert of France, came in second with a board made with wood from a box that once held carrots.
Vissla founder Paul Naude said the contest was designed to encourage creative thinking about sustainability. "This new culture is asking questions today. What are we doing to the environment?" Naude said.
Lane and Judkins now plan to do more to help the planet by making an environmental surf documentary about their journey designing and creating the cigarette surfboard.
They also plan to build three different cigarette surfboard models, and ask internationally acclaimed surfers to ride them in various coastal regions around the world.
In order to produce the film, the duo have launched a kickstarter campaign to raise $20,000 for film equipment and expenses amd travel.
But certainly not any cigarettes.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.