Environment

Here It Is, a Sea Turtle Made of Cigarette Butts

A rotting pile of garbage gets a face and adorable turtle-y appendages, thanks to Florida artist Shelly Marshall.
January 8, 2017, 1:00pm
Images courtesy the artist

The countless cigarette butts littering a Florida beach have finally been put to use, thanks to a turtle-shaped anti-littering PSA named, "Cig." Self-taught artist and Marine Biology BA Shelly Marshall created Cig after cleaning up garbage with volunteer group Ocean Hour in her home of Gulf Breeze, FL. In just one hour they collected the 1,200 individual cigarette butts that comprise the tobacco turtle, an amount that disgusted Marshall and inspired her to create this sculpture.

Ocean Hour connects with researchers to analyze the kinds of garbage polluting their coast, and Marshall tells The Creators Project, "Year to year cigarette butts are ALWAYS in the top three. Unlike bottles or other trash, prevention messages and recycling methods prove more difficult." Frustrated by the magnitude of the problem, Marshall got the idea to put a face to the real victims of beach littering. "I wanted to do something shocking," she says. "I wanted to create something eye-catching that was both interesting and repulsive at the same time." With a head made from rotting cigarette butts and lifelike doe eyes, her creation is just that.

Marshall spent 10 hours attaching the butts to a cardboard frame with clear-glue that, she says, "covers up some of the stink," making Cig light and environmentally friendly. The artist hopes her creation will remind viewers how gross it is to leave your garbage on the beach. "Those little tiny pieces of trash add up, and many butts contain microplastics that interrupt the ecosystem. Most people don't know that it can contain up to ten years for one tiny butt to decompose," she says.

Sea turtles aren't the only creatures harmed by litter, so Marshall is planning to make Cig a troupe of nasty new friends. "I am working with Ocean Hour to collect different kinds of trash and possibly do a series of marine debris ocean life. Next we are working on a bottle-nose dolphin made out of plastic bottles." Check out Cig in all his decaying glory below:

Follow Shelly Marshall's work here.

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