Did you know that most chewing gum today is made from butadiene-based synthetic rubber, which is essentially plastic made from oil? It’s crazy to think that something we chew on every day is made from the same stuff as car tires.
The History of Chewing Gum
Chewing gum actually has a long history, dating back thousands of years to ancient cultures who chewed on plant-derived substances like chicle, spruce tree resin, and birch-bark tar. However, with the rise of the chewing gum industry and increased demand, natural resources became scarce, leading to the development of synthetic gum bases.
Nowadays, most chewing gum on the market is filled with additives like fillers, emulsifiers, softeners, and artificial flavors and colors. But don’t worry, there are still some all-natural gum brands out there that don’t use plastic or other questionable ingredients.
Rubber in Your Chewing Gum: It Doesn’t Break Down!
It’s also important to remember not to litter chewing gum, as it doesn’t biodegrade and can contribute to plastic pollution. So next time you’re craving a piece of gum, consider choosing an all-natural, biodegradable option to help protect both your health and the planet.
It’s worth noting that while synthetic gum bases may be made from petroleum, the production of chewing gum has come a long way in terms of sustainability. Many companies are now making efforts to reduce their environmental impact by using recyclable packaging and sustainably sourced ingredients. Additionally, some gum companies are working on developing biodegradable gum bases that break down more quickly in the environment. I would feel comfortable getting these types of gums for my kids.
There are actually some benefits to chewing gum…
It’s also important to recognize that chewing gum has benefits beyond just being a fun and flavorful pastime. Studies have shown that chewing gum can improve cognitive function, reduce stress and anxiety, and even aid in weight management. Additionally, chewing sugar-free gum after meals has been shown to promote oral health by increasing saliva production and neutralizing acid in the mouth.
Many traditional chewing gum brands make use of synthetic materials, but there are still plenty of reasons to chew gum, particularly if one chooses a more sustainable or all-natural option. Just be sure to dispose of your gum responsibly, and consider choosing a brand that is committed to reducing its environmental impact.
Naughty and Nice:
- All Wrigley gum
- Big League Chew
- Big Red
- Bubble Tape
- Dubble Bubble
- Hubba Bubba
- Ice Breakers
- Juicy Fruit
- Mentos Gum
- Glee Gum
- Pür Gum
- Simply Gum
- The Humble Co. Chewing Gum
- Best Mint Project 7 Clean Chewing Gum
- Chicza Organic Mayan Rainforest Chewing Gum
It’s worth noting that while the good list contains all-natural and biodegradable gums, it’s still important to read the ingredients list and determine if any gum is right for you, as some brands may still use thickeners, vegetable oils, or questionable “natural flavors.”
- 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.