Naama Barak
July 4, 2023

Around 100 volunteers participated in a beach cleanup co-sponsored by ISRAEL21c this weekend, clearing away around 15,000 cigarette butts from beaches along Israel’s coast.

“There was a butt cleanup event going on in 13 countries and we represented Israel, organizing cleanups in Ashdod, Tel Aviv, Netanya and Herzliya,” Julian Melcer, the founder of Clean the Butts organization, tells ISRAEL21c.

“We also handed out some 2,000 pocket ashtrays. We usually sell them but this time we handed them out for free, and there’s no doubt that it’s easier and a more positive experience – people enjoy getting gifts,” he notes.

ISRAEL21c co-sponsors beach cleanup of 15,000 cigarette butts
Volunteers cleaned cigarette butts from this beach in Herzliya on July 1, 2023. Photo courtesy of Clean the Butts

Melcer founded Clean the Butts in 2018, launching the group with a beach cleanup in celebration of his 24th birthday. Since then, the group has cleared away more than 2.5 million cigarette butts from Israeli beaches, recycling some 300,000 of them.

It has also provided more than 40,000 smoking beach-goers with pocket ashtrays in a bid to replace the habit of burying cigarette butts in the sand.

Recent years have seen the group focus on large events, lectures in schools and sales of the pocket ashtrays. Earlier this year, Melcer joined ISRAEL21c’s Keep it Magniv, a lifestyle brand for Gen Zs and millennials who care about the environment.

ISRAEL21c co-sponsors beach cleanup of 15,000 cigarette butts
Clean the Butts founder Julian Melcer, third from left, with volunteers at a beach cleanup on July 1, 2023. Photo courtesy of Clean the Butts

This weekend’s event received great feedback, Melcer notes.

“There was so much appreciation for it,” he says. “We heard the words ‘thank you’ countless times, also from cleaning workers and inspectors. Everyone who saw it really appreciated it.”

Clean the Butts is planning more cleanups this summer, for example in the northern coastal city of Acre this upcoming weekend, as well as outreach operations and pocket ashtray sales.

To find out more, check out Clean the Butts here.   

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