Chewing gum is a beloved pastime for many people around the world. But did you know that most chewing gum is made from butadiene-based synthetic rubber, a polymer made from oil? That’s right; the same material used to make car tires is also used to make the gum you chew. This article will explore the history and the shocking truth about chewing gum and why you should consider switching to all-natural options.
The History of Chewing Gum
Chewing gum has been around for thousands of years and has been used by various cultures worldwide. The ancient Greeks chew on mastich, while young Scandinavians chew birch-bark tar. The Mayans and Aztecs in Southern Mexico and Central America would chew chicle, made from the sap of the sapodilla tree, and Northern Native Americans would chew spruce tree resin. However, as the demand for chewing gum grew, natural resources became scarce, leading to synthetic bases made from petroleum and other substances.
Plastic in Your Chewing Gum?
By the 1950s, all American chewing gum made from natural chicle was replaced by butadiene-based synthetic rubber. Apart from plastic, modern chewing gum contains fillers, emulsifiers, softeners, artificial flavors, and colors. These substances may not be harmful, but they are not natural either.
All Wrigley gum, Bazooka, Big League Chew, Big Red, Bubaloo, Bubble Tape, Bubbilicious, Chicklets, Clorets, Dentyne, Dubble Bubble, Extra, Excel, Freedent, Hubba Bubba, Ice Breakers, Juicy Fruit, Mentos Gum, Orbit, Razzles, and Trident.
If you’re concerned about chewing on plastic, all-natural options are available. Glee Gum, Pür Gum, Simply Gum, The Humble Co. Chewing Gum, Best Mint Project 7 Clean Chewing Gum, and Chicza Organic Mayan Rainforest Chewing Gum are all-natural, biodegradable, and healthier options for you and the planet. However, read the ingredients list as some still use thickeners, vegetable oils, or questionable “natural flavors.”
Quit Tossing Your Gum!
Whether chewing naughty gum or all-natural gum, ensure you dispose of it properly. Chewing gum is an oil-based synthetic polymer that does not break down naturally in the environment. In the UK alone, people stuck 250,000 pieces of chewed gum on London’s Oxford Street, and the cost to local councils of cleaning up chewing gum from UK streets was estimated to be £56 million.
Chewing gum has been a part of various cultures worldwide for thousands of years, but its commercialization has led to synthetic bases made from petroleum and other substances. However, with all-natural options, you can enjoy chewing gum without contributing to plastic pollution. Switch to all-natural gum today and do your part in protecting the environment.
- Person, and Associated Press. “Scientists Find Ancient Chewing Gum in Finland.” CTVNews, CTV News, 20 Aug. 2007, www.ctvnews.ca/scientists-find-ancient-chewing-gum-in-finland-1.253265.
- Mathews, Jennifer P., and Gillian P. Schultz. Chicle: The Chewing Gum of the Americas, from the Ancient Maya to William Wrigley. The University of Arizona Press, 2009.