The Roach Tail: Surfer creates cigarette-butt surfboard to raise awareness of ocean pollution

A surfing enthusiast has made a surfboard from 10,000 cigarette butts to highlight the pollution problem created by the waste that is discarded on the beach.

Industrial designer and Santa Cruz resident, Taylor Lane, built his cigarette-butt surfboard after a long summer spent collecting some 10,000 butts along Northern California beaches, sidewalks, parking lots, and other places.

Cigarette butts, which are primarily the filters, are made of a type of plasticised cellulose acetate, which does not easily biodegrade.

In the United States, cigarette butts are the single most common item picked up during beach clean-ups. According to the International Coastal Cleanup, over 1 million cigarette butts are removed from beaches in the US every year.

Many toxic compounds have been found in measurable concentrations in cigarette butts including nicotine, arsenic, lead, copper, chromium, and cadmium. Several of these toxins will leach into water and affect aquatic ecosystems.

Taylor Lane’s upcycled surfboard recently came first place in The Surfrider Foundation and VISSLA’s Creators and Innovators Upcycle Contest.

The idea for the 17-pound twin-fin surfboard, dubbed “The Roach Tail”, came about after Taylor Lane participated in a beach cleanup in Northern California and himself discovered that cigarette butts are the most common form of ocean pollution.

Taylor Lane said: “Looking at this board is like looking at an example of what we need to do to grasp this issue of ocean pollution. It’s a hugely complex problem with many facets to it, but there are also a lot of great solutions.

“People see this board and they are visually drawn to it, it’s visually disgusting — but awesome in how gross it is. It just ties together surfing and something we care about — the environment, the ocean, and the health of the ocean.”

The Creators and Innovators Upcycle Contest, which is now in its third year, challenges surfers to take waste and create something that can be used in the ocean – “converting waste into want”.

Taylor Lane alongside his friend and filmmaker, Ben Judkins, are planning to make a documentary movie about the cigarette-butt surfboard creation, in an effort to further raise awareness about ocean pollution and to stimulate more action.

Ben Judkins said: “As surfers, littered items such as cigarette butts have harmful effects on the place we love and yearn to protect and keep clean. Discarded cigarette butts and other plastics are completely contrary to the surf and beach culture we are trying to promote.”

Ben Judkins and Taylor Lane have launched a campaign, via Kickstarter, to create an environmental surf documentary showcasing their journey with “The Roach Tail”.

The documentary will focus on the harmful effects of human-caused ocean pollution and what can be done to raise awareness and change behaviours, while linking the historical significance that surfing and surfers have with respect for the ocean.

The pair will interview scientists, activists, public health employees, government agencies, as well as internationally acclaimed surfers for the documentary.

To support Ben Judkins and Taylor Lane’s fundraising campaign for The Cigarette Surfboard Documentary, visit their Kickstarter page

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief @rosamedea

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