Yearn Worthy Yarn: Cigarettes

We’re a little slow sometimes around this blog, as news of this yarn and clothing hit the internet in early January, but it is still worth a mention here as a yearn worthy yarn.

Alexandra Guerrero, a Chilean designer discovered that by using found cigarette butts, she could clean them and then spin them with wool to produce a yarn to knit and crochet into clothing.

What began as a graduate thesis project, Guerrero heavily researched the possibility of reusing discarded cigarette butts that make up a vast amount of litter in Santiago, Chile. And according to the organization ButtsOut, 4.3 trillion cigarette butts are discarded and left for litter, around the world each year.

After collecting the cigarette butts Guerrero consulted with en environmental engineer to make sure that reusing the butts wouldn’t be dangerous or hazardous. Guerrero then developed a thorough cleaning process that renders the butts 95% pure and safe enough for wear.

The process also helps break down the cigarette fiber so it can be shredded and able to be spun with wool. The resulting yarn is 10% cigarettes and 90% wool, though Cuerrero has plans to increase the percentage of cigarette fiber. The yarn is then able to be knit or crocheted into wearable garments.

So far Guerrero has made a hat, poncho, dress and bolero with plans to expand her line of clothing and include felted soap.

Written by Kelly Rand

Kelly covers visual arts in and around Washington, DC for DCist and is editor of Crafting a Green World. Kelly has also been published by Bust Magazine and you can find her byline at Indie Fixx and Etsy’s Storque and has taught in Etsy’s virtual lab on the topic of green crafting.

Kelly helps organize Crafty Bastards: Arts and Crafts Fair, one of the largest indie craft fairs on the east coast and has served on the Craft Bastard’s jury since 2007. Kelly is also co-founder of Hello Craft a nonprofit trade association dedicated to the advancement of independent crafters and the handmade movement. Kelly resides in Washington, D.C. and believes that handmade will save the world.


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  1. Why encourage use of cigarettes? Tobacco uses so much pesticides and herbicides, the papers used to wrap the cigs are probably bleached out the wazoo. Oh, and then there’s the proven health risk. I just can’t see how you can argue that this is a good thing. Hardly yearn worthy – more like scorn worthy!

  2. TJ —

    My thoughts on that is, even with all the information on the dangers of cigarettes, the cost, etc., MANY people still smoke. So why keep sending things to the landfill when they can be used for something else? I don’t see recycling the cigarette butts as any different than recycling plastic bottles for any number of purposes.

  3. Just like plastic bottles were not designed to be recycled, neither were cigarette butts. They both contain tons of toxic chemicals that washing will not remove. Items like this should never have prolongued skin contact. We absorb the toxins through our skin.

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