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Some Approaches to the Question of Chewing Gum Litter.
July 3, 2011 5:38 PM   Subscribe

Some Approaches to the Question of Chewing Gum Litter.
posted by shakespeherian (52 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
I work at a school. My Husky comes to work with me everyday. After two years, we have NO gum stuck under our desks. I believe there is a connection.
posted by tomswift at 5:53 PM on July 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


People caught disposing of chewed gum on the ground should have large masses of chewed gum applied to the bottoms of all the shoes they own. And then they should be shot.
posted by dephlogisticated at 5:58 PM on July 3, 2011 [8 favorites]


I think the most appropriate solution is to develop a gum that would decompose over time rather than hardening and becoming a black splotch. As well, I would like to note that Singapore's ban on gum outlines the oppression in the country as well as the growing separation between the old ultra-conservative government and the rising youth population.
posted by CreativeUsername at 6:00 PM on July 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


One word.

Swallow.
posted by jonmc at 6:02 PM on July 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


I work at a school. My Husky comes to work with me everyday. After two years, we have NO gum stuck under our desks. I believe there is a connection.

Because the husky eats the gum? Or because you have trained him to maul students who chew in his presence?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:05 PM on July 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


This is a problem because it is entirely too much fun to ptooey your gum out of your mouth as you're walking, and try to punt it out of the air into the distance.
posted by rakim at 6:05 PM on July 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


According to the article the cost of removing gum from the pavement is around 3x the selling price of that gum. So don't outlaw it, just have a 300% deposit. Customers can get it back when the return all the chewed wads.
posted by George_Spiggott at 6:06 PM on July 3, 2011 [10 favorites]


Is stoning an option? Because I'm against stoning as a rule, and this is the exception that proves it.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 6:11 PM on July 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is stoning an option? Because I'm against stoning as a rule, and this is the exception that proves it.

I'm with you, on the condition that we coat the stones in used gum, for that extra "hoisted by your own petard" feeling.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:14 PM on July 3, 2011


Oh wow, some of that gum art (especially the painting) is amazing! Here in Brisbane we have massive wheeled machines ("Gum Removal Patrol", I kid you not) that guys tow around, I think they use steam or something. Whatever, I don't think they do anything. It should be an on-the-spot $50 fine. I chew gum, I love chewing gum, but I always swallow it or put it in a bin, same thing I do with my cigarette butts. The cigarette butts take a few movements to get down but, hey, it's much-needed roughage and essential plastics.
posted by tumid dahlia at 6:20 PM on July 3, 2011 [7 favorites]


> One word. Swallow.

Another word. Tagnuts.
posted by scruss at 6:21 PM on July 3, 2011


I always spit mine into a bush or flowerbed. I've seen enough urban bird nests spackled together with used gum that I figure it'll get used. (I also "litter" stray bits of clothing thread in the same way, for the same reason.)
posted by phunniemee at 6:33 PM on July 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think the more pressing problem is the horrible smecking noises that people make when they are chewing gum.
posted by louche mustachio at 6:39 PM on July 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


freaky - i was talking with a friend about this just last night. GET OUT OF MY HEAD, METAFILTER!
posted by lapolla at 6:43 PM on July 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I used to live in New York City. Before they renovated the subway stations in Manhattan, going over to a slicker surfaced gum-discouraging tile flooring, the stations had rough concrete platforms inevitably covered with black gum blobs. I tried to estimate how many people had spit their gum onto the floor to produce the visible number of blobs. It might be just one person a day, but it adds up.

I also wonder if the undigested gum ends up sticking to the insides of the sewers.
posted by bad grammar at 6:43 PM on July 3, 2011


According to the article the cost of removing gum from the pavement is around 3x the selling price of that gum. So don't outlaw it, just have a 300% deposit.

Or create a gum tax to pay for the removal.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 7:19 PM on July 3, 2011



This is a problem because it is entirely too much fun to ptooey your gum out of your mouth as you're walking, and try to punt it out of the air into the distance.


I do this with mints.

Sometimes I consciously litter as an attack on the environment. I realize how little sense that makes, so I don't do it as much anymore. Except for spitting mints.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:24 PM on July 3, 2011


Anyone disposing of gum in an anti social manner should be subject to an immediate barrage of Hellfire missiles from a specially dedicated squadron of Apache helicopters. It wouldn't take many sorties before people got the message. The good thing about this approach is the gunships could also take out people with heavy sound systems in their chavmobiles while they're waiting.
posted by joannemullen at 7:25 PM on July 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Maybe soot infested gum is a viable surface treatment? After it turns into that hardened black dot it tends to stay there and doesn't even get sticky on hot days.
posted by furtive at 7:31 PM on July 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Isn't this the kinds of thing that taxes were invented for?
posted by blue_beetle at 7:31 PM on July 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


I guess this is a city problem, in the country, you have to worry about losing your gum. A buddy on mine lost a piece of gum while he was working in a chicken coop. He thought he found it, like three times...
posted by 445supermag at 7:32 PM on July 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


an immediate barrage of Hellfire missiles from a specially dedicated squadron of Apache helicopters

"It was a packet of Juicy Fruit."
"But from up here, it looked like an AK-47 or a rocket launcher."
posted by obiwanwasabi at 7:45 PM on July 3, 2011


I'm pretty sure that gum only does this if it ends up on pavement or cement? Because I know I read someplace that gum is actually biodegradable and will go away with time if it is exposed to the elements, but that was in the context of spitting it into soil or whatnot.

Still, maybe the real solution is to make used gum into Toynbee tiles to spread the word of resurrection near Jupiter.
posted by hippybear at 7:51 PM on July 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Some types of chewing gum are different than others. Some years back I was chewing a piece of a new brand and was surprised when after a few hours it started to disintegrate in my mouth.
posted by exogenous at 7:58 PM on July 3, 2011


DNA's now being used to trace dog poop.

No reason we couldn't do the same with chewing gum.
posted by jamjam at 8:04 PM on July 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Before clicking through to the article I was all set to propose Seattle's gum wall as another approach. Of course, that was the first photo. Although it hardly captures the size of the original, which is up to "several inches thick, 15 feet high for 50 feet."
posted by grouse at 8:20 PM on July 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is it just me or did we take down their site?

It was totally us...
posted by kthxbi at 8:34 PM on July 3, 2011


One word. Swallow.

I don't understand why people don't swallow their gum, either. Gum is inert and will pass unchallenged through your system.

Then again, I don't understand why people spit in public instead of simply swallowing their saliva (usually while walking, usually without a shirt, usually with baby-momma and offspring in-tow).
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:41 PM on July 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


However, the experiment was terminated in 2002, after just ten years, when intense lobbying pressure by Wrigley’s forced Singapore to allow the sale of “medicinal” gum as a pre-condition to signing a free trade agreement with the United States.

I've been furtively smuggling my pack of Juicy Fruit in and out of Singapore (can't smell that, can you, you clever little beagles..) for nearly twenty years. But for the past nine I could have just carried a licensed brand? Fightthepower fail.
posted by Ahab at 8:51 PM on July 3, 2011


I don't understand why people don't swallow their gum, either. Gum is inert and will pass unchallenged through your system.

Duodenal stricture. Among others.
posted by Soupisgoodfood at 9:09 PM on July 3, 2011


So don't outlaw it, just have a 300% deposit.

Or create a gum tax to pay for the removal.


Or, hey, pass a plain packaging law.
posted by tumid dahlia at 9:33 PM on July 3, 2011


(That was a crappy link, sorry. But it gives the gist.)
posted by tumid dahlia at 9:34 PM on July 3, 2011


But for the past nine I could have just carried a licensed brand?

Please take all the nicotine gum you can carry.
posted by charlie don't surf at 9:49 PM on July 3, 2011


One word. Swallow.

I'm here to tell you all that swallowing gum will not clog your butthole and make you die, no matter what Stevie Lynch said on the playground at Immaculate Conception.

Stepping on a stranger's freshly spat-out gum/saliva/sputum isn't pleasant but on the scale of urban annoyances, it ranks well below stepping on fresh dogshit produced by a stranger's dog.

Good on the gum-art, for keeping the gum off the sidewalk. Somehow I doubt a turd-art wall would be as effective.
posted by dogrose at 10:20 PM on July 3, 2011


Dog turd art has been tried, and the result wasn't exactly an improvement.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:27 PM on July 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sometimes I consciously litter as an attack on the environment. I realize how little sense that makes, so I don't do it as much anymore.

You know something Lovecraft? I appreciate your candor. I wish more MeFites would voice the opinions of their "inner assholes" more often. After all, we are one big internet family here.

Personally, I stopped chewing gum when I got braces on, and after I got them off I found myself wondering what the point of chewing gum even is, besides freshening breath. I guess I used to do it for the taste (Juicy Fruit yellow was my favorite), but now I have zero interest in the stuff. In fact, those first few seconds after I realize I have stepped in gum are usually when I think to myself "yeah, ok, I can kind of see why people murder other people" (there's that inner asshole!). Luckily I don't step in gum very often.
posted by MattMangels at 12:05 AM on July 4, 2011


I vote that we coat all sidewalks with rubber based dark coatings that will make the gum splotches invisible and make the sidewalks slightly springier. This coating should be made out of used tires, recycled, similar to what they sometimes do for playgrounds.

Only problem I can see is the people who are allergic to latex type products. Are people like that allergic to chewing gums? Or is it all just plastic now, like the rubber gloves?

Civil Disobedient - whenever I see someone spit on the sidewalk I imagine they have tuberculosis... I understand that in Europe and the western world, spitting went from a habit no more offensive than blowing your nose to highly distasteful when they realised that it was a symptom of contagious respiratory illnesses back around the turn of the previous century. But most likely the guys you mention are not producing mucus too difficult to swallow, and are thinking of it as dominance gesture -spitting on the neighbourhood as a lesser impact gesture than deliberately spitting on someone else. It's very macho, like an old cowboy film of the tobacco chewers casually spewing half way across the room and hitting the spitoon with a loud clang.
posted by Jane the Brown at 12:30 AM on July 4, 2011


Gum used to be made of chicle, and was probably biodegradable. Now it's made of plastic. Spitting gum in public is gross, seems like a small, but real tragedy of the commons. Littering is really antisocial.
posted by theora55 at 1:11 AM on July 4, 2011


jonmc: "One word.

Swallow.
"

If I had a nickle for every time I heard that.
posted by Splunge at 6:10 AM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


The only imagery that children see around them are billboards and TV; every part of their environment is out of bounds or sold off. That’s why they don’t care about their streets. This is a small way of connecting people.

Quoted from Ben Wilson (the gum painter) most of the way down the article. Incredibly succinct little nugget of truth, that.
posted by Scientist at 6:11 AM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


However, the experiment was terminated in 2002, after just ten years, when intense lobbying pressure by Wrigley’s forced Singapore to allow the sale of “medicinal” gum as a pre-condition to signing a free trade agreement with the United States.

This makes me livid. I hate how our massive corporations can force other countries to bend to their will and our fucking government backs them up.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:26 AM on July 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


Gum is gross and adults who chew it, with the exception if baseball players, look like enormous slobbering lip smacking children. There, I said it.
posted by nathancaswell at 6:53 AM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I quit smoking by using Nicorette. It was incredibly effective as a replacement therapy for me. Now I find I chew similar shaped gum now and then when I have a craving moment. I don't give a fuck if I look like an enormous slobbering lip smacking child. I'm not smoking anymore, and that's worth it.
posted by hippybear at 6:54 AM on July 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


What is “gum litter” and why would one chew it?

Oh: You meant chewing-gum litter.
posted by joeclark at 7:02 AM on July 4, 2011


furtive : Maybe soot infested gum is a viable surface treatment? After it turns into that hardened black dot it tends to stay there and doesn't even get sticky on hot days.

I wondered that myself - People pay to have various resins and sealants and treatments applied to their concrete, to prevent and repair cracks. If you have millions of visitors a year providing that service for free, don't fight the tide, flow with it!

Anyone have hard data on what really happens if you just ignore gum on the sidewalk?
posted by pla at 7:54 AM on July 4, 2011


445supermag: "A buddy on mine lost a piece of gum while he was working in a chicken coop. He thought he found it, like three times..."

I one heard the expression "uff da" defined as "what you say when you drop your gum in the chicken coop."
posted by workerant at 8:54 AM on July 4, 2011


Stepping on a stranger's freshly spat-out gum/saliva/sputum isn't pleasant but on the scale of urban annoyances, it ranks well below stepping on fresh dogshit produced by a stranger's dog.

Actually, as long as I don't immediately go into my car or my house right after, I would much rather step in dog shit than gum. Actually, even in those cases I think I'd still prefer the shit. Dog shit can be wiped off on a handy patch of grass, or steam cleaned out of carpets and the like. Chewing gum is a HUGE pain to get off, and if you get gum in your carpet? Forget about it.
posted by antifuse at 11:54 AM on July 4, 2011


Sometimes I consciously litter as an attack on the environment. I realize how little sense that makes, so I don't do it as much anymore.

I like dogs, quite a lot actually. However, when I see a yappy little terrier I occasionally feel this bizarre compulsion to reach over, grab it by the midsection and fling it as high as I can into the air. I've never done this, needless to say, but in my mind's eye it flies impossibly high. Somehow this does no harm to the dog -- the passing fancy doesn't play forward to say anything about how the dog lands. Other than being mildly startled and experiencing some vertigo, no harm comes to the dog. Maybe it just never comes down.

Ishmael said "whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me...it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off."

This must be how bullies feel. Power gleefully exerted over an innocent and defenseless target, exerted with total impunity, impunity from the laws of God and man and, most importantly, total liberation from the weight of conscience.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 2:34 PM on July 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Gum is gross and adults who chew it, with the exception if baseball players, look like enormous slobbering lip smacking children. There, I said it.

Seconded. A relative of mine is a gum chewer, and the smacking and slobbering on the telephone drives me nuts.
posted by gjc at 6:24 PM on July 4, 2011


In her own Oxford there would have been a dozen places within five minutes' walk, but this Oxford was so disconcertingly different, with patches of poignant familiarity right next to the downright outlandish: why had they painted those yellow lines on the road? What were those little white patches dotting every sidewalk? (In her own world, they had never heard of chewing gum.) Philip Pullman, The Subtle Knife

I think of this often when I see gum on sidewalks.
posted by NoraReed at 7:42 PM on July 4, 2011


"Writing in The Guardian in 2005, journalist Tim Adams reported that an incredible ninety-two percent of Britain’s urban paving stones have gum stuck to them."

.. they had to count them all.
posted by jetsetsc at 10:07 AM on July 5, 2011


If I had a nickle for every time I heard that.
posted by Splunge at 6:10 AM on July 4 [1 favorite +] [!]


If only... then you wouldn't have to resort to alternative methods for income generation. "400 nickles, same as in town.."
posted by FatherDagon at 11:21 AM on July 5, 2011


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