Natural alternatives to chewing gum do exist, but you don’t have to chew gum, it’s often just a habit. Most brands are packed with all kinds of rubbish like plastic and antifreeze, and endless chewing can result in jaw and headaches. When discarded, it costs councils more to clean it up, than to buy it. Pressure-washing pavements also presents slipping hazards.
Most ‘natural gums’ are made with the processed sweetener xylitol, which organic chemist Shane Ellison says it can ‘rip up your insides’ and lead to stomach cramps. Xylitol is lethal to pets and wildlife/birds (dogs are attracted to its sweet taste). A few natural gums use a little organic cane sugar.
Simply Gum is sold in Iceland. The South American tree sap is lightly sweetened with organic cane sugar, rice flour prevents it being too sticky. Flavoured with essential oils (avoid for pregnancy/nursing), choose from mint, cinnamon, fennel or ginger (good for nausea and sea sickness). Be careful as a few newer versions like the sugar-free peppermint do contain xylitol, but the rest are fine.
Free from a plastic base, they use chicle that is a sustainable tree sap from Central America instead. The gum base on most packs is the same plastic used in white glue, car tyres and plastic water bottles. It is brown with a textured appearance due to the real cane sugar. They are kosher-certified and each pack includes Post Chew Wraps to avoid sticky situations, perfect for when you need to dispose of your gum on the go!
Vermints is another US brand (find in shops or buy online below links). These lovely little tins look like the ones your father or grandfather carried around, and contain real mints (with flecks of real mint leaf and ginger), sweetened with cane sugar, maple syrup and tapioca. Choose from peppermint, gingermint, wintergreen, cinnamon, Chai or café express.
How to Remove Stuck Gum
To remove stuck gum, place clothing in a freezer bag for 15 minutes, then remove with a knife. For carpets, chill with ice cubes, then use a stiff toothbrush (or tweezers to remove final bits). For gum in hair, cover with olive oil or peanut butter (not near dogs, or they will lick your head!) Wait a few minutes, the gum should slide out.
Gum Bins for Public Places
If you run a school or council, buy a bright pink Gumdrop Bin. Made from recycled gum, schools and councils can save up to £2000 in clean-up costs in 12 weeks, and full bins are collected, with the gum recycled.