Thijs Biersteker
Awarness artist to create sustaineble digital work on topics of climate change, pollution and nature

Pollutive Ends

Pollutive Ends

Showing the impact of 1 single cigarette butt.


1 cigarette butt pollutes 500 Liters of water per day.

5.7 Trillion cigarettes are smoked a year,
67% of those are ending up in nature.


This interactive installation shows the real time impact of
1 single cigarette butt.

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The installation interacts with the people in the room by adjusting the flow of liquids to their presence.

Artist Thijs Biersteker wants us to focus on the smallest, but biggest polluter out there; the cigarette butt.

With the art installation Pollutive Ends the artist shows the impact of 1 cigarette butt on our environment and waters. Research shows that 65% of the 5.5 trillion sold cigarettes end up in nature. Taken into account that 90% of all sold cigarettes have a plastic filter it is not difficult to imagine the pollution it causes, turning the groundwater to a deadly level for the small creatures living in it.

Pollutive Ends premieres this summer at the Riverside Art Museum in Beijing, China, to create awareness in one of the biggest smoking populations of the world. The work is part of the exhibition ‘Continuous Refle(a)ction’, an exhibition on eco-art, environmental protection and sustainability initiated by Unicef, Wild Aid and the Alashan SEE Foundation. Other artists in the exhibitions are Elise Morin, Martin Roth, Du Wang, Bea Fremderman, Sirous Namazi, Daxin Wu, Annette Kelm and Yalun Tao.

When I walked outside of our studio (Woven Studio) I saw the flocks of filters laying around and started to dive into researching the impact of those little critters. Shocking to know that one cigarette butt thrown away in nature, pollutes 500 liters of ground water per day. They are quickly overlooked, however these small butts are one of the most littered and pollutive items in the world.
— Thijs Biersteker

The digital art installation shows visitors the impact of one single cigarette butt by moving small elements of polluted water hypnotically right in front of their eyes. Driven by sensors that detect people approaching the installation, an algorithmic driven pumping system shows the real time impact of 1 cigarette butt by pumping around 3.4 milliliter of cigarette waste water.

One cigarette but pollutes 3.4 milliliter of water per minute to a deadly level for small sea and ocean creatures. In 2006 researchers from the US Environmental Protection Agency discovered that when   you put a cigarette butt in 1 liter of water for one day, the toxic waste it creates will kill 50% of all small sea creatures and fish in the water. These filters emit cadmium, lead, arsenic and zinc and the bits of tobacco left in the filter emit tar, nicotine, pesticides and other chemicals. 

The idea for the installation is based on the research of the Surfrider Foundation, the World Health Organisation and US Environmental Protection Agency.

As an artist I don’t only hope this artwork creates awareness for the 65% of people littering the filters in nature, but mainly to show the industry that they should start innovating their way out of this. Or just loose these pollutive ends completely.

Research paper after research paper made my mouth drop wider and my stomach crunch more says Biersteker. Imagine, because of our human laziness 65% of the 5.5 trillion cigarettes smoked a year end up in nature. That are a horrifying 3.57 trillion cigarettes. Every single year.

They are not only an enormous waste source and polluter, but also completely unnecessary to have in the first place. The chance of getting lung cancer actually increases as a result of the filter. It's all made up to market the illusion of health.

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Commissioned by
Beijing Riverside Art Museum

Woven Studio


Bas van Oerle & Kees Plattel

End of Time

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