A Sticky Issue: Unraveling the Environmental Impact of Chewing Gum

In the realm of everyday actions, chewing gum might seem harmless, but a closer look reveals a less savory truth. The seemingly innocuous act of chewing gum comes with an environmental cost that’s often overlooked. As we strive for sustainable living, understanding the detrimental impact of chewing gum on our environment becomes essential.

Microplastic Menace

Chewing gum is predominantly made from synthetic rubber, which is essentially a form of plastic. As we chew, these gum particles break down into tiny pieces, often referred to as microplastics. These microplastics pose a significant problem as they don’t biodegrade but persist in the environment for years. They accumulate in soil, waterways, and even find their way into our food chain, causing widespread ecological damage.

Litter and Cleanup Costs

Improperly discarded chewing gum adds to the problem of litter in our urban spaces. Gum that’s carelessly discarded onto sidewalks, streets, and public areas quickly becomes an eyesore. Cleaning up these sticky residues requires time, effort, and resources that could be better spent on more pressing environmental issues.

Economic Impact

The financial burden of cleaning up gum litter is substantial. Local governments and businesses spend significant amounts on maintenance, cleaning, and repairing damages caused by gum stuck to public spaces, infrastructure, and even machinery. These funds could be better utilized for community development or environmental preservation projects.

Harm to Wildlife

Microplastics, including those from chewing gum, can be ingested by wildlife, causing internal injuries, digestive problems, and even death. Birds, fish, and marine creatures often mistake these colorful particles for food, leading to widespread ecological disruptions. In aquatic environments, the ingestion of microplastics by smaller organisms can work its way up the food chain, ultimately affecting human health. 

What Action Can You Take?

While chewing gum might be a small indulgence for many, its environmental impact looms large. From its contribution to microplastic pollution to the economic costs of cleanup and the harm it inflicts on wildlife, chewing gum carries a hidden burden that must not be ignored. By raising awareness about this issue, practicing responsible disposal, and advocating for sustainable alternatives, we can collectively address the negative impact of chewing gum on our environment.

It’s time to chew over our choices and opt for more environmentally-friendly habits that align with our shared goal of preserving the planet for current and future generations. Or if you find the habit of chewing plastic just too hard to kick, dispose of your gum responsibly inside the wrapper or container, and in the bin. If you’re looking for plastic-free alternatives, consider exploring the Eco Shop where you can find gum that is free from microplastics.

Written for Let’s Make Cyprus Green by Christina Massaad

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