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If you’ve made the switch from traditional cigarettes to vaping, reducing your carbon footprint probably wasn’t one of the factors behind your decision. However, every time someone does quit smoking, they are helping the planet as vaping has a much lower environmental impact than smoking.
In this post, we take a closer look at the detrimental effects on the environment that smoking has and, how, as vapers, we can ensure we are doing our bit to be green.
Smoking and the Environment
Annually it is estimated that over 6 trillion cigarettes are consumed each year. Of these, only a third are disposed of correctly. The remaining two thirds, or 4 trillion, are simply discarded into the environment.
The city of San Fransisco audited its waste collections for a one year period. They found that nearly 25% of all the waste they collected was tobacco product waste (TPW).
A separate audit of waste collected along the world’s coastlines found that between 19%-35% was tobacco product waste (TPW)
Why are these numbers important?
Studies have shown that the carcinogens and toxins found in discarded cigarettes can leak into soil for up to 10 years. These damaging compounds may never fully disperse, permanently damaging the land and the life that depends on it.
TPW also damages our oceans as the filters from cigarettes are manufactured from non-biodegradable plastics. In water, these break down into microplastic fragments that are ingested by all manner of sea life.
Cigarette production is a significant contributor to the loss of trees globally. This is especially true in poorer, developing nations where big tobacco firms encourage governments to turn over forests to agricultural land for the growth of tobacco.
The deforestation caused by tobacco growing has many severe environmental side effects;
Biodiversity is reduced, and species are put under enormous strain, threatening their survival.
Fewer trees mean the planet is less able to deal with excess carbon dioxide, a significant contributor to global warming.
The chemicals used during tobacco farming can enter the water system, causing pollution and damaging marine life.
Carbon Dioxide Production
Every year cigarettes produce over 2.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide and 5 million tonnes of methane. These gases represent two of the six key greenhouses gases.
It is estimated that cigarette production is responsible for over 5% of the total greenhouse gases produced each year globally.
Vaping and the Environment
Vaping is not 100% environmentally friendly, so if you want to eliminate your environmental impact entirely then ideally you should quit vaping. However, for those of us who just want to reduce our impact on the environment, there are several things you can do.
When purchasing devices or e-liquids, consider where they are produced and how far they’ve had to travel. If you try and buy products that are manufactured locally to you, then the carbon footprint associated with your vaping will be significantly reduced.
Unfortunately, the TPD legislation introduced in the EU in 2016 has made it harder for the industry to produce environmentally friendly products. Limitations on bottle size for e-liquids that contain Nicotine mean that many more plastic bottles are now required to supply the same volume of product.
Plastic e-liquid bottles can be recycled providing they’ve been washed, and the labels have been removed.
Most vaping devices also have several parts that can be recycled. Any glass, metal and plastic, assuming it can be safely removed from the device, can be taken to your local recycling centre rather than being simply disposed of.
Look After Your Batteries
You can extend the life of your batteries by not overcharging them. Rather than leaving you device to charge overnight, do it during the day and remove the power cable when you reach a full charge.
When your batteries reach the end of their lives, make sure they are recycled rather than sent to landfill. Most local authorities and many supermarkets have battery collection schemes, so it’s very easy to dispose of them in a ‘green’ way.
By simply not smoking, you’re already doing the environment a big favour. However, if you want to do more, then there are easy steps you can take to limit the impact that vaping has on the environment. By looking after your batteries, sourcing locally made products and recycling where you can you’ll be well on the way to being a more Eco-Friendly Vaper.
Neil Entwistle is the founder of Red Vape, a UK made gourmet e-liquid brand specialising in naturally extracted tobacco flavours.