Toxic Legacies | Leila Wallisser

Useful information

Team members

Detailed Description

My master project "Toxic Legacies" aims to investigate the greenwashing behind recycling and how the concept of recycling can tend to justify the production of waste in a consumer-based system. Split into two parts, the first consists of a series of material tests aiming to find beauty in the components present in discarded cigarette butts – the second consists of a final product line and campaign named re:cig ironically advertising this form of recycling.

Project Details

Does your design take social and cultural challenges and human wellbeing into consideration?

By addressing the issue of waste generated in a university context, I incorporated a sustainable approach in my project, reusing 1000 cigarette butts collected by participants. This not only promotes environmental consciousness but also engages the community in a meaningful way, fostering a sense of responsibility towards our surroundings and human wellbeing.

Does your design support sustainable production, embodying circular or regenerative design practices?

After realizing the potential harm in recycling certain materials, I shifted my focus back to visual communication design and sought ways to address the environmental issues associated with cigarette butt waste. Instead of continuing with recycling efforts, I developed a product line and campaign that communicates the environmental problems of cigarette butt waste and the misleading aspects of recycling. The aim is to raise awareness about this issue while promoting materials reuse with a touch of irony and humor. By creating awareness and encouraging a shift in consumer behavior, the design aims to be regenerative, fostering a more sustainable approach to waste management and resource use.

Does your design use principles of distribution and open source?

My master project aims to investigate the greenwashing behind recycling and how the concept of recycling can tend to justify the production of waste in a consumer- based system. By raising awareness, this project aims to create a sense of transparency and encourage more mindful consumption as well as a more mindful design.

Does your design promote awareness of responsible design and consumption?

The project "Toxic Legacies" delves into the environmental impact of cigarette butt waste, shedding light on the fact that cigarette filters are not biodegradable and release over 4000 chemicals into the environment, posing a threat to marine life and even inhibiting plant growth. By highlighting the harmful effects of discarded cigarette butts, the design aims to provoke the question of whether this highly poisonous material really needs to exist in the first place. Through this investigation, the project encourages responsible consumption and advocates for a more mindful approach towards waste management, urging individuals to reconsider their choices and make informed decisions that contribute to a healthier and more sustainable environment.


Project Website

Social Media Accounts