Plastic Free July–Chewing on Plastic?

Jul, 04, 2020

My 13-year-old’s  friends are chewing gum and, since I bought her a sugar-free type, I didn’t see a problem with it. It made me remember my own experience with Hubba Bubba, Big Bubbles, No Troubles☺ Everything was fine until I learned that gum might contain plastic. Ewwwwww. I don’t know anyone who would want to chew on a piece of plastic, and I particularly did not want my child to absorb any harmful chemicals from plastic by chewing on it.

bubblegum_girl mainChewing gum dates back at least 3,000 years. It used to be made from tree sap, resin, and natural rubber, so it was pretty harmless. However, today it’s made from synthetic rubber along with lots of chemicals. If the gum ingredients list reads “gum based,” chances are it contains petroleum, lanolin, glycerin, polyethylene, polyvinyl acetate, petroleum wax, stearic acid, or latex. Now chew on that! Manufacturers use vinyl acetate to produce polyvinyl acetate, which is a chemical that has been shown to cause tumors in lab rats.

Plastic is not in all chewing gums, but the problem is that we as consumers have no way of knowing which of these ingredients are included in the gum base since manufacturers are not required to give us that information. Another problem is that the few gums that don’t contain plastic as an ingredient come in plastic packaging.

Besides being a potential problem for our health, chewing gum also is a hazard for the planet because, once gum is discarded, where does it go? Into the trash perhaps. But much of it ends up in toilets, water, nature, etc. So, here is yet another piece of non-biodegradable plastic polluting our planet.

Here is some good news. If you like chewing gum here are your best option for chewing gum made with organic ingredients and without any plastic gum base or plastic packaging.

Simple Gum

Chicza Chewing gum

Glee Gum

Fredrika Syren

Fredrika Syren is an environmental activist and writer. In 2016, she founded the website Green-Mom.com where she shared her family’s journey of living zero waste. She lives in San Diego, California with her husband James and their children Bella, Noah, and Liam. Fredrika and her family were recently featured in the documentary Zero Time to Waste. Fredrika is also the author of Zero Waste for Families - A Practical Guidebook (which you can buy on this site)


  1. Reply


    September 8, 2015

    i’ve chewed if for years……and i’m still alive.

    • Reply

      Green Mom

      September 8, 2015

      I never said it would kill you but may cause lots of problems to both you and the environment that you’re not aware off. Or you might be one of the lucky ones;)

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