Love it or despise it, gum chewing isn’t going to disappear anytime soon, so it’s another one of these uniquely human pursuits that could do with a little greening. It’s not just the wrapper litter or chemical flavors that are added – the gum itself is a real problem.
I was surprised to learn that most chewing gum these days is made from synthetic rubber – yep, we’re chewing crude oil and as with most crude oil derived rubbers, it doesn’t break down very quickly.
Aside from the environmental concerns with anything related to extraction of crude oil, there is a possible carcinogenic issue in relation to vinyl acetate (acetic acid ethenyl ester) gum base ingredients. The Canadian government has classified the ingredient as a “potentially high hazard substance.”, but it’s often hidden in the term “gum base” according to Wikipedia.
Chewing gum was originally made from substances such as chicle, which a natural latex product; but this is a more expensive ingredient. However, a company named Chicza is using chicle again, sustainably harvested, in an organic product.
Unlike its mainstream petro-chemical counterpart, chicle decomposes through weathering and it simply turns to dust.
A chicle based gum would also please many local government authorities charged with the expensive, frustrating job of cleaning chewing gum gunk off our sidewalks – millions are spent around the world each year cleaning up after inconsiderate gum chewers.
Learn more about Chicza – the site has some great information on chewing gum generally, it’s history and what makes chicle a better, more earth friendly choice.