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Whats' the difference between a teacher and a train?
March 1, 2010 11:19 AM   Subscribe

Have you ever spit your gum on the sidewalk. Did you know it's a social problem? New York City is dealing with it. Mexico DF is having a hard time with it. Instead of spitting you can swallow it or make a flower.

The teacher says spit out your gum and the train says chew chew!
posted by Xurando (47 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
People who spit their gum on the sidewalk should be shot.

with gum guns
posted by Mister_A at 11:21 AM on March 1, 2010


gum is pretty gross in general
posted by nathancaswell at 11:23 AM on March 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


Nothing makes me quite as irrationally enraged as littering. It's pretty far down the list of problems that humanity has, but it's such a small thing to NOT litter, that the action of littering expresses more utter apathy and disconnect with the environment that one lives in than I can fathom in a self-aware being. It's not really a big deal in and of itself, but it makes me feel totally hopeless about the human race's chances for long-term survival.

Living in a city where litter abounds, you might think I spend a lot of time being irrationally enraged. AND YOU MIGHT BE RIGHT YOU ASSHOLE, WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT? GO F#&$ YOURSELF!

Sorry...plastic bag blew by the window.

Actually, in lieu of the Pacific Trash Vortex, maybe it's not such a small environmental problem.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 11:26 AM on March 1, 2010 [15 favorites]


The progressiveu rant kind of turned me off, so I decided to find a little research to refute the author's factless statement that gum is not biodegradeable. Turns out they were kind of right (assuming these answers can be trusted)
posted by Think_Long at 11:29 AM on March 1, 2010


Oh, another good link in this vein: Until the US (with Wrigley's prodding) stuck its free trading nose in, gum was illegal in Singapore for this reason!
posted by Salvor Hardin at 11:31 AM on March 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


People are so disgusting and so selfish.
posted by 2bucksplus at 11:33 AM on March 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Or you can start your own Gum Wall.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 11:33 AM on March 1, 2010


I have a friend who will confront people when he sees them litter at subway stops. I guess it makes him feel better. I predict it's going to lead to his demise.
posted by diogenes at 11:39 AM on March 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


gum is pretty gross in general

Correct. I cannot think of a single good reason not to outlaw gum and make possession punishable by guillotine.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:42 AM on March 1, 2010


Wow, I bet you really weren't feeling this one, Salvor Hardin.

I used to have to transfer at this bus stop outside a Walgreens which for some reason was a magnet to litterbugs. I would watch people do shit like come out with a candy bar in a plastic bag, take the candy out of the bag and throw the bag on the ground, take the candy bar out of the wrapper and throw the wrapper on the ground.

When I used to smoke I became very aware of the nastiness of cigarette butts (my personal top peeve now, and I have seen this multiple times, is parents at the part putting out their fucking smokes in the same sand their kids are playing in). Your best bet if you don't know you'll be near an appropriate receptacle, is you keep the bottom of the cellophane from the pack in your pocket, and strip and store your butts in there until you find a proper place to dispose of them. It's not ideal, it's still a fairly nasty, smelly thing to have in your pocket, but then you've got a nasty, smelly habit. If I could preserve the presence of mind to walk around with a stinking cellophane wadded up in my pocket, I'd think the gum chewers could save the wrapper to wrap it up after and deal with that for however long it takes them to find a trash can.

Maybe we should all start carrying personal trash receptacles...
posted by nanojath at 11:43 AM on March 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


(at the park, not at the part)
posted by nanojath at 11:44 AM on March 1, 2010


We went to Halifax on vacation last year and I noticed an area of sidewalk around the corner from our hotel that was completely covered in gum-it was pretty disgusting. I wondered for a day or two why that particular area was so much worse than everywhere else until I noticed that the business in that location was a late-night dance club.

Stick to pacifiers you slovenly little ravers!
posted by TedW at 11:47 AM on March 1, 2010


Oh, and way way long ago when I cleaned a department store we used to carry these cans of a fast-evaporating aerosol; you sprayed it on the gum and its rapid evaporation cooled it below freezing, then you could pop it off the carpet with something like a putty knife. People really are disgusting pigs.
posted by nanojath at 11:47 AM on March 1, 2010


Salvor Hardin: I admire your overall sentiment, but I don't think you meant to use 'in lieu of'.
posted by jacalata at 11:51 AM on March 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


I cannot think of a single good reason not to outlaw gum...

Breath of the smoker's, drinker's, onion and morning varieties.
posted by DU at 11:55 AM on March 1, 2010


Breath of the smoker's, drinker's, onion and morning varieties.

That's why Jesus invented mints and not smoking.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:58 AM on March 1, 2010


I cannot think of a single good reason not to outlaw gum...

My debilitating oral fixation.
I don't spit it on the sidewalk though, I promise.
posted by mmmbacon at 11:58 AM on March 1, 2010


Nothing is more fun than gumpunting. When you spit out your gum as far as you can, and kick it out of midair. I started tracking it down and throwing it away, so that's gross to touch if you're on concrete, but it's still so fun. You only get one shot too, cause if you miss, you obviously can't put it back in your mouth. I know I'm not the only one who does this.
posted by cashman at 11:58 AM on March 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


When I used to smoke I became very aware of the nastiness of cigarette butts

I used to hang out with some self-described "hardcore environmentalists". At first they rolled their own cigarettes, because that's "more environmental". Then they moved to prepared cigarettes because it's easier and "wastes less paper and leaf". When I asked them why it was okay to just toss the butts in the street, they told me that the street sweeper would sweep them up anyway.

It's funny when two alternative lifestyles (granola and NY hipster in this case) clash so profoundly, and people will still happily live out the contradiction.
posted by Think_Long at 12:01 PM on March 1, 2010


CGAG
posted by henners at 12:36 PM on March 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Clearly, this is something that needs the full force of shock and awe that only the Goverment can impose on it's citizens. Think War On Drugs.
If you don't litter, you have nothing to worry about. Amirite?
posted by Balisong at 12:53 PM on March 1, 2010


Have you ever spit your gum on the sidewalk

Not a big fan of gum, so no. But I've got like two decades worth of my history that involved me flicking cigarette butts onto the street, so I've got some atoning to do.

It's amazing how you really just don't-think-about-it-when-your-doing-it but once you've stopped you realize what a scumbag you were all those years.
posted by quin at 12:59 PM on March 1, 2010


Just like you don't think that your and you're are distinctly different enough to bother with proofreading. Grr.
posted by quin at 1:01 PM on March 1, 2010


Like some other people in the thread I seriously don't get littering. Maybe because I grew up watching PBS in the 80's when I guess there was a lot of anti-litter stuff going on but jeez. What kind of asshole thinks to themselves "Well, I'm done with this soda, better throw the cup out the car window."?

That goes for you too smokers and gum chewers, it being little and you being addicted don't make it any better.
posted by ghharr at 1:15 PM on March 1, 2010


an area of sidewalk around the corner from our hotel that was completely covered in gum

That would be a gumpository.
posted by R. Mutt at 1:29 PM on March 1, 2010


I've never understood why people refuse to just swallow their gum when they're done with it. The tales about gum staying in your stomach for seven years are bullshit, and even as a small child I knew that. Spitting it out onto the sidewalk is reprehensible, and even taking it out of your mouth and wrapping it up in the foil is kind of gross. Just swallow the damn stuff.
posted by rifflesby at 1:29 PM on March 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


I guess I have a slightly different feeling about it. On a corner right up the block from my house is where the corner candy store used to be. It was owned by Fred and Rose. I don't know their last name.

When I was a kid my mother would send me there for lunch if she wasn't going to be home. Since my school was a block away, at lunch time I'd walk over there. The place was the ultimate old mom and pop candy shop. Counter to the right as you walked in, comic books, cheap toys and penny candy case to the left. A few red leather booths in the back with blue mirrors above them.

Rose would give me a bowl of tomato soup and a tuna on white toast. When I finished it all I'd get a large chocolate Egg cream.

It was like a home away from home. Fred was an irascible old fart and Rose was like a grandmother to me.

What does this have to do with gum on the sidewalk?

40 years later, Fred, Rose and the candy store are long gone. The place it used to be just metal roll-down shutters.

But the pavement in front is a veritable galaxy of black gum (and wax) spots. It's densest where the door was and fades away, never actually ending, the further you walk away.

Sort of like childhood memories fade as you get older.

I hope Bloomberg leaves that sidewalk alone.
posted by Splunge at 1:57 PM on March 1, 2010 [11 favorites]


If traveling up Georgia's Stone Mountain, you can just pole it.
posted by rahnefan at 2:17 PM on March 1, 2010


While I'll agree that littering and gumspitting is a gross habit, I can't really get behing the permanent/biodegradable argument. It sucks to get it on your shoe, but over time it gets worn down to little more than a stain on the concrete. Think of all the gum that's been chewed and discarded. It's not as if the streets of Manhattan are knee deep in discarded chewing cum. As far as I'm concerned, concrete is also "litter" if you're taking the long view.
posted by billyfleetwood at 2:29 PM on March 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


Gum is awesome... until you push it over a tad too far with your tongue and end up biting the inside of your cheek. Fuck.

Also: Lincoln bubble gum tree in DC.
posted by Rhaomi at 2:41 PM on March 1, 2010


I still remember realizing that all the black spots on the subway platform were gum. Before that point, it had just not occurred to me to wonder why there were spots all over, and when it did, I was just dumbfounded that so many people could chew gum and spit it on the sidewalk. I didn't quite believe it but there were a couple spots not quite blackened yet and it became obvious that was the cause.

And sure, I'd agree it's more an "eyesore" rather than an issue of biodegradability - as above, it's not like the concrete is meant to be biodegradable. But it is ugly, and seems so easy to prevent. (On the other hand, it seems like it would be easy for people to stand/ walk on the right side of the escalator or stairway, and they never do in NY... Some cities are less cooperative than others.)
posted by mdn at 2:50 PM on March 1, 2010


I get grief from my brother for spitting gum onto the road* while driving.

I say I'm helping to repair the road.

*But never on the pavement, whether I'm driving on it or not.
posted by Quantum's Deadly Fist at 2:54 PM on March 1, 2010


I cannot think of a single good reason not to outlaw gum...

Breath of the smoker's, drinker's, onion and morning varieties.
posted by DU at 2:55 PM on March 1 [+] [!]


Breath of the smoker's, drinker's, onion and morning varieties.

That's why Jesus invented mints and not smoking.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:58 PM on March 1 [+] [!]


I use it to keep my teeth clean. I spend a lot of time out on the road, away from toothbrush and floss, and I drink from a well, so no fluoridated water. but I spit my gum into the wastebasket.

also, there was an AskMe last year about where to find unsweetened gum (I would kill to find unsweetened gum) but everybody kept pointing the poster to sweetened gum that they didn't think was "all that sweet."

I'd love to know if he ever found unsweetened gum. come to that, I'd love a sapodilla tree.
posted by toodleydoodley at 3:02 PM on March 1, 2010


Seriously though, what goes through the minds of people who litter? I try to imagine the internal monologue but it seems too unbelievable to me:

I am done using this thing I'm holding and I don't want it anymore, so I'm just going to DROP IT HERE. All done, problem solved. That object is OUT OF MY LIFE now. (Five seconds later) What object? That thing there on the ground? Oh no, that is not mine. Not anymore. It's gone now because I DROPPED IT. Do not mention it again. Do not look at it. It does not exist.

How blissful it must be to go through life, where the only action required to dispose of your trash is to just... release your grip on it and move on!
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 3:19 PM on March 1, 2010 [1 favorite]



Salvor Hardin: I admire your overall sentiment, but I don't think you meant to use 'in lieu of'.
posted by jacalata at 2:51 PM on March 1 [1 favorite +] [!]


Yikes! I've been using that wrong for a long time. That'll teach me not to trust a French phrase grumble grumble...
posted by Salvor Hardin at 3:29 PM on March 1, 2010


Yikes! I've been using that wrong for a long time.

you're close - I would use "in light of". then tell everybody they heard you wrong.
posted by toodleydoodley at 3:42 PM on March 1, 2010


Gum is a small concern to me compared to cigarette butts. I just can't believe how completely roboticallypeople flick FLAMING GARBAGE onto the sidewalk.
posted by hermitosis at 3:57 PM on March 1, 2010


I stopped eating at my local McDonald's after noticing that the curb at the drive-through entrance was virtually coated in black gum spots.

"That has to say something about the clientele," I thought.
posted by limeonaire at 4:03 PM on March 1, 2010


I still remember realizing that all the black spots on the subway platform were gum. Before that point, it had just not occurred to me to wonder why there were spots all over, and when it did, I was just dumbfounded that so many people could chew gum and spit it on the sidewalk. I didn't quite believe it but there were a couple spots not quite blackened yet and it became obvious that was the cause.

I recall the same ugly realization.
And FWIW, gum litter is a special bane to dog owners. Ugh.

As for cig butts and smelly pockets, do you not have those little portable tins where you are for storing them? Saw rather fancy ones in Japan but by the time I came home they were here, too (Canada). Not that I see too many people using them. Too disgusting to hold on to, I guess, but not to leave all over the place.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 4:04 PM on March 1, 2010


Every time I see gum on the sidewalk I think, "Couldn't you have waited TWO MINUTES to get to a garbage can and dispose of it properly?" There are garbage cans everywhere, if you take the time to look.

Of course, public garbage cans create their own form of litter. People go to a lot of trouble to throw away their food remnants, and then squirrels and crows come along and rip all the trash out of the can to get to the treats.

People do a fair share of littering, but at least here in Seattle, crows are responsible for at least half.
posted by ErikaB at 4:19 PM on March 1, 2010


hermitosis wrote: "Gum is a small concern to me compared to cigarette butts. I just can't believe how completely roboticallypeople flick FLAMING GARBAGE onto the sidewalk."

To be fair, at least some brands of cigarettes use cellulose filters, which biodegrade in a month or two. I still think it's stupid when smokers can't dispose of their butts properly. I don't begrudge them a little tobacco on the sidewalk or whatever so they can put the butt in their pocket without setting themselves on fire.

For whatever reason, it was quite obvious to me what old gum on a sidewalk was the first time I saw it, so by the time I first saw it everywhere on the sidewalks of NYC, the novelty was long gone.
posted by wierdo at 4:33 PM on March 1, 2010


One should be able to extract DNA from impacted sidewalk chewing gum, even after several months or years, right? I would think that a Gattaca-type fine which would cover the cost of the DNA test + a few hundred dollars would work to eventually deter this evil scourge, and provide local governments with a new revenue source.
posted by Auden at 4:45 PM on March 1, 2010


Build with it! Just like many creatures make their shells/homes/weapons out of waste material, we could make pre-warmed gum serve
a useful purpose. For example, wouldn't sidewalks be more attractive if they were covered with a delightfully textured, resilient coating? MADE OF GUM!

I'm not suggesting that we "cooperate" to make the next Twin Towers, I'm suggesting that we could work together to coat a stretch of sidewalk somewhere. Just one! In alternating red and green.
posted by sneebler at 6:20 PM on March 1, 2010


Metafilter: Can overthink a sidewalk of gum spots?
posted by Splunge at 7:14 PM on March 1, 2010


mdn> I still remember realizing that all the black spots on the subway platform were gum.

So do I. It was roughly 5 years ago; I was 35 at the time.

Why yes, I am one of those people who swallows his gum.
posted by UrineSoakedRube at 10:53 PM on March 1, 2010


On cigarette butts. I'm smoker and used to be one of those assholes who claimed that it didn't matter what I did with my cigarette butts. So I tossed them everywhere. Who gives a shit right?

Two things have changed my habits and they happened distant from each other in both time and place. A few years back I was enjoying a scenic summer morning along a local river, which runs through the urban area I live in but is very much a natural and beautiful place. I took up a spot on the river above a storm drainage inlet pipe or somethings, it basically spewed all the detritus from the surrounding area into the river, and I sat there and watched this spewing happen two times before I couldn't take it anymore. It was pretty disgusting because everything from McDonald's straws, to candy wrappers, and most noticeably, cigarette butts were washing into the river. Saddest of all there were bass in the clear river trying to feed on this shit. It was deplorable, and almost brought my pseudo-hippie, environmentalist wanna-be ass to tears.

Oddly, this still wasn't enough to change my behavior, despite the impact that this event had on me and its resonance in my present life.

My behavior didn't change until I was in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in the Arrowhead region of Minnesota a few years later. I have never littered in the wilderness anyway, I always pocket my butts, smelly pockets be damned. This time though, I brought the altered behavior back from the wilderness. I don't throw anything on the ground now. Not butts, not gum (I don't chew gum - but if I did, I wouldn't toss it on the ground). The memory of those fish trying to eat cigarette butts will be with me until I die, which will probably be soon if I don't quit smoking.
posted by IvoShandor at 11:51 PM on March 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


I remember one time when I was little. I was eating something in my dad's truck and thought "I wonder what it's like to litter", so I rolled down the window and tossed it out. He walked up (truck was parked) and asked if it was my wrapper. Being a little kid, I automatically lied, and being a parent, he automatically saw through it. But yeah, that's how foreign the concept is to me.

Although I went many years believing that cigarette butts weren't litter. In preschool, we did a neighborhood trash pickup, and I guess the teachers didn't want us to chew on or try to smoke the butts lying around. They told us butts weren't litter, and I just believed them! Up until like a year or so ago xD

(then again, many kids were trying to pick up leaves. Pretty sure those aren't litter... r-right? ;_; )
posted by rubah at 3:20 PM on March 2, 2010


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