"I'm here to protect the world," he said. "It's burning in my soul, it's burning in my bones, it's burning in my eyes when I see trash on the beach," Melcer said it's also a living, earning him about $3,000 to $4,000 a month during the summer from the sale of the pocket ashtrays for $6 each.
The Tel Aviv resident has been at it for three years, starting out by creating artwork from butts he collected and then finding a way to recycle his large haul. Stuffing butt-filled plastic bags into boxes, Melcer mails them to the NoButts organization in Ireland, which extracts their plastic filters for repurposing.
He estimates that he and others in his volunteer group in Israel have picked up about one million butts. On its website, NoButts says cigarette filters are the "most toxic single-use plastic on the planet". It estimates that some six trillion butts are littered worldwide every year.
"It's super important because cigarettes hurt nature, they hurt the beach, and I love the beach - it's my home," Melcer said about his campaign.