Thijs Biersteker

Pollutive Ends

The project

The impact of one cigarette butt on the ground, the ground water, rivers and oceans is enormous and often unknown. One cigarette butt alone pollutes fifty litres of water; a few cigarette butts in a litre of water cause half of all small ocean life to die. Pollutive Ends brings to life the scientific research into this issue. The interactive installation pumps fifty litres of water a day around a network of pipes containing the exact amount of pollution that comes out of one cigarette butt that ends up in the water. The liquid pulses faster when visitors are present, which presents a hypnotic and confrontational image. From up close, the cigarette butt in the middle becomes clearer and the message hits home.


Thijs Biersteker takes an abstract topic, that is difficult to visualise, and turns it into an almost living organism. In the interactive installation Pollutive Ends, it is really clever how the designer has managed to transform something so repulsive into something so fascinating and even beautiful. The impact of the installation walks the lines of wonder and yet is direct and unambiguous in its communication. A refreshing and effective approach to a known, perhaps even tired problem, that also motivates direct action. Once you have seen this, you will think twice before ever throwing a cigarette butt on the floor ever again.

— "Once you have seen Pollutive Ends by Thijs Biersteker, you will think twice before ever throwing a cigarette butt on the floor ever again."

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