Posted tagged ‘chewing gum’

Chewing it over

November 23, 2012

I took the photo below the other day as I was walking down a city street. I won’t say where. Just say it’s on your street, because wherever you live, if you look down and study the pavement, this is what you are likely to see. And what you are seeing is discarded chewing gum that people have spat out.

the chewing gum street

I have increased contrast levels on the photo to make the gum more visible, but there it is. Of course as we know this wouldn’t be the scene in Singapore, because former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew banned the importation and use of chewing gum in the city state. While not particularly wanting to espouse Lee’s somewhat authoritarian form of government, you might wonder whether he had a point.

Nor is this just a minor aesthetic complaint. The cost annually of removing chewing gum from pavements can be astronomical. It is estimated that London spends £10 million a year on this operation.

Let’s chew this one over and do something.

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Chewing it over

February 10, 2011

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…

Chewy issue

March 4, 2010

In these uncertain times, it’s a great comfort that some things will not change. One of these is Singapore’s ban on the import, sale and use of chewing gum. The government there has announced that this ban will remain in place. The ban was originally introduced in 1992, though for some time before that Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew had indicated his intention of addressing what he considered were the public tidiness and health issues arising from its widespread use.

Former US President Lyndon B. Johnson is said to have remarked of Gerald Ford (who later became President) that he was ‘so dumb he can’t walk and chew gum at the same time’. For anybody so afflicted, Singapore is the place.