Saturday, April 04, 2009

No More Sticky Floors

One of my biggest gripes when I go to the movies these days is lack of imagination. It seems all the great ideas that ever were to be created have been, because we are stuck with much the same story and plot lines.

But one thing you may not have to complain about in the future is that sticky movie theatre floor. A Mexican company has imaginatively created the world’s first biodegradable chewing gum.

Unlike traditional bubble gum which is made from rubber compounds, the Chicza Mayan Rainforest Chewing Gum is made from the sap of the chicizapote tree. These trees grow in the Mexican rainforest, hence the name of the gum.

Because of the natural ingredients in this product, compared with the artificial petroleum-based products found in most chewing gums, this new gum breaks down over time. It loses its stickiness when dry and – according to the company that makes it – will turn to dust within six-weeks.

Environmentalists are happy with this new rainforest product – apparently used gum accounts for over 60 percent of the crap stuck to our public sidewalks, roads and other outdoor spaces.

This got me looking down, while I was out and about the other day. Sure enough, if you look down you will see used gum littering the sidewalks. Though I suppose I’ve never really noticed before – if I constantly stared at my shoes while walking, I’d probably walk into a pole, a person, or a big wad of used chewing gum.

Biodegradable gum is a sound solution to part of our disposable society. If it really does as the company says, eventually, our outdoor public spaces could be gum-free, meaning no more sticking to that movie theatre floor.

However, as with most things in life, the problem isn’t going to go away just because of one cool invention. The real cause of the problem lies with you and me.

Although you probably cart your blue box of recyclables to the curb or local recycler as a good environmentally conscious citizen, my scanning of our sidewalks found traces of more than just gum-waste.

Cigarette butts probably outnumbered the gum, and then there were all the used coffee cups, fast food containers, even a shoe – who the hell leaves one shoe?!??!

Obviously our society still tosses things to the curb, without really thinking about the consequences.

Cigarette butts are full of residual chemicals that are very harmful to all living beings, and most of the stuff found in those tiny bits of paper don’t break down naturally in our environment. Meaning smokers aren’t just polluting their lungs when they smoke, their polluting the environment too.

Smoking is an increasingly harder thing to do in our civilized world, thanks to the knowledge we’ve learned from science over the years. When cigarettes first came out, even some doctors were said to have prescribed them for medicinal purposes.

We now know that wasn’t the case, but we still have issues with their remnants. Just as a very creative company came up with a solution for chewing gum, maybe one day someone will resolve this problem for those who need a smoke.

But then, it really shouldn’t be necessary in the first place – we all should be aware of our role in the greater global environment, and just not toss away anything – even something seemingly as small and harmless as a chewed stick of gum, or a cigarette butt.

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