Chewing gum? Beware of its environmental impact before you do it next

girl chewing gum
Photo: Pexels/ Cristiano Silva

What’s the instant thought that comes to you when you are bored? Is it ‘I want to chew the chewing gum’ or something else? Most of you might want the gum because it is fun and you can fool around with it by blowing as well.

So, what after you are done with it? Of course, you will throw it even though how much you keep chewing, it never ends. But, are you aware that negligent disposal of chewing gum poses a serious threat to the environment?

The popularity of chewing gums

Chewing gum is a soft non-food substance, and the general rule is to avoid swallowing it. You keep chewing, but it never ends.

These gums are available in a wide range of flavours, vibrant colours, and forms these days. The popularity of these gums is rising due to the endearing characters and intriguing advertisements.

And if you go back to history, people chewed gum made from the peeling bark of mastic trees in ancient Greece. Then, the Mayans and Aztecs were the ones to highlight the advantages of these gums. They used chicle, a naturally occurring tree gum. Native Americans took pleasure in masticating on spruce tree resin.

Modern-day chewing gums seem to have developed in the 1860s. For many years, it was a very popular pastime. And even today, people chewed gums for fun and simply just for mastication and to freshen breaths.

Similar to early times, it is gradually integrating into contemporary society. It is not only for fun but there are some advantages to chewing gum. It is claimed that it eases anxiety, combats sleepiness, lessens despair and helps you get rid of nausea.

The need to be accountable

However, chewing gum has consequences if thrown haphazardly, which is fatal to other living beings in the environment.

We merely throw away the leftover plastic. That is all there is to it. And, this is where we need to stop for a second and reflect. Am I properly disposing of it? After cigarettes, chewing gum is the second most prevalent type of litter.

pieces of chewing gum
Photo: Pexe;s/ Karolina Grabowska

People throw it away and stick it to walls, tables, railings, and other surfaces like pavement and walls. Chewing gum is everywhere.

In the end, almost all chewing gum is made of plastic. It is not biodegradable or compostable as other types of plastic waste. It is not beneficial to the fauna or the soil. Its careless disposal gives rise to severe environmental issues.

One is the negative impact on birds. Bird feathers become entangled in the gum due to their stickiness. They mistake it to be bread crumbs and consume it, which causes them to choke, become lodged in their digestive tracts, and die untimely.

Even the digestive system of human beings finds it difficult to digest these materials. It has an unparalleled impact. Similarly, everything eventually enters the water system. The stomachs of aquatic animals also contain these discharged gums.

We might not experience negative effects on ourselves. But, we also need to take into account how it affects the ecosystem and wildlife. It is time to demonstrate just how educated and cultured we are since we are so-called civilised creatures.

Let’s wrap the gum on paper after chewing it and discard it in the trash. Additionally, we can promote biodegradable gum.

If not us, no one else will be looking after our planet and all of its inhabitants. We must take accountability for our actions.

It is a very small thing, yet it makes a big difference. Let’s cooperate and assist other living things on the globe.

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Kattel is pursuing her bachelor's degree at the Institute of Forestry, Pokhara Campus.

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