Chewing it over

If you live in a significant town or a city – unless that city happens to be Singapore – and if you look down on the pavement as you walk along it, you will see a large number of white marks or blotches. Mostly you won’t pay too much attention to these, but I have just been told that the average pedestrian in Dublin will, on an average day, step on about 550 of these. What you are stepping on is chewing gum that has been spat out on to the pavement.

Removing chewing gum from the pavement is not easy. It requires the use of jet spray and chemical treatment, and on average it costs 12c to remove each piece of gum (where the gum itself costs less than 5c to buy). It has been estimated that on London’s Oxford Street you will generally find 300,000 pieces of gum on the pavements. The cost of removing these is £35,000, and this has to be done five times a year. And that’s just Oxford Street. Across the UK as a whole, the British government spends £150 million each year to remove chewing gum.

On Dublin’s Grafton Street there will usually be 150,000 pieces of gum that need to be removed, and all over Ireland it is estimated that, annually, 500 tons of gum are spat on to the country’s streets.

Chewing gum has become part of western culture, and it is not reasonable to think that we can ban it (Singapore notwithstanding). But the public have to be educated to understand the costs they are creating when they dispose of it in this way, and on the spot fines should be applied here. It’s time to re-educate gum users. I’ll do my bit. Next time I see someone spit out their gum I shall draw their attention to the implications. If I am in a position to do so, I’ll report on the responses I get…

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7 Comments on “Chewing it over”

  1. cormac Says:

    If chewing gum quietly disappeared from the shops tomorrow, would there be a public outcry? I doubt it

  2. Fred Says:

    Does it realy needs education for common sense and basic sense of appropriate behavior?

  3. Vincent Says:

    You seem determined to get your clock wiped. What was it again. Ah yes. The cyclists, then the snow-ball tossing youngsters. Now those chewing gum.
    When I first read about Socrates, I was convinced about the initial forbearance of the average Athenian. Now I’m fairly certain you would not get that level of shrift in Dublin.

    Grafton St. 14.03.20. A Wednesday.
    A FvP, A Gurrier. A Jackeen and his southside Moll.

    Act I, scene I;

    FvP; ‘Pick that up. Have you any Idea how much it costs to steam that stuff form the bricks’

    Sounds of Twos with flashing Blues fill the stage.

    Enter Gurrier on a ride on steam-cleaner pushing red scarfs before him.

    • Al Says:

      Will there be a scene II?

      I remember ould Dick wanting to ban chewing gum a few years ago, until he got a visit from an ambassador…

  4. Em Says:

    I never thought about the cost of cleaning chewing gum in the street, but I work in a restaurant and am appalled by the amount of chewing gum you find under the tables. It’s disgusting!
    I am not sure I would have the courage to go to people to explain them the implications. The reactions I get when I do that about littering are already not the most welcoming, so I can’t imagine what they would be for spitting chewing gum. Fair play to you! Every little bit counts.

  5. no-name Says:

    Why isn’t it reasonable to ban gum? At some point during my DCU days (around 2000), if I recall correctly, the shop stopped selling gum for the reasons you give above (good move, in my opinion). I advocate banning it, or at the very least, passing on the cost of cleaning to the uncivilised masses who spit it out on our streets. €15 a packet should do the trick. (I have just walked the length of Camden Street and the Lower Rathmines Road. I can confirm that it is probably impossible to measure a distance of 8 inches in any given section of that stretch without encountering at least one wad). In terms of cleanliness Singapore has the right idea and we should follow their lead. The filth of Dublin’s streets is not only repulsive, it is embarrassing.

  6. […] also recently read a blog post at University Diary about the cost of cleaning chewing-gum on the streets.  This is something I […]

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