You can call me dumb, but I really did not realise that gum was plastic until a friend pointed it out to me just over 12 months ago. I was living under the delusion that chewing gum was made from a tree sap. However, I was decades behind the times (as usual); every sine the 1960's Chewing gum has been made from polymers of synthetic plastic that do not biodegrade.
So effectively we are chewing on plastic????? Now chewy gum has been linked with better oral health because of the stimulation of saliva; so that's a positive, but I just can not get over the fact that we are literally chewing on plastic polymers.
One of the main polymers used in gum is polysobutylene; this is what you see covering birds and marine life after an oil spill, it is also used as an engine lubricant; sound delicious?
Conventional gum does not biodegrade because it's synthetic plastic polymers, making it the worlds second most common form of litter, behind cigarettes.
Now cigarettes are know for the negative health effects they can have on our health; but those little buts that are filtering and partly catching chemicals such as cadmium,arsenic and lead during the smoking process, are more often than not, just flicked away. These often make their way to waterways and oceans, where they are easily mistaken as food.
Cigarette butts are toxic, can take several years to break down and the number one form of litter in the world.
Another form of ocean litter I was completely unaware of (yes, I was aware of the cigarette butts, I have been know to have a little road rage over this one :( I just thought I should mention it for those who may not be aware?)
Now the other unknown; Micro fibers. A large percentage of the human-made material found on the shorelines near sewage outflows were microfibers, that matched the types of material, such as nylon and acrylic, used in clothing.
But how do microfibers of our synthetic clothing get to the ocean?
By sampling wastewater from domestic washing machines, Ecologist Mark Browne, estimated that around 1,900 individual fibers can be rinsed off a single synthetic garment - ending up in our oceans.
I use safe washing powder but, I never dreamed that the material from my clothing was traveling to our oceans where small organisms readily ingest them as, microplastics, introducing toxic pollutants to the food chain.
I have a filter on my machine and I already only buy natural materials new. However, I was not really paying attention to my secondhand items and what do I do with my existing synthetic clothing? I'm pretty sure they will start to stink after awhile if not washed :)
I should give snaps to Eileen Fisher clothing brand who uses only natural fibers and was the only clothing band that supports the research into this problem. This is an American brand and rather expensive, although the do have a sale on at the moment.
I will continue to look out for natural products new and now secondhand too :)