Fighting chewing gums under tables and preventing littering in general.

Posted: March 7, 2011 in Just for LULz, Psychology, Random facts and WTFs, Technology

About 20 years ago, Singapore had a problem with chewing gums: people were littering with them everywhere. You could find chewing gum on the sidewalks, sticked to the walls, elevator doors and public transport seats. There were even some accidents in which escalators in public places got stopped because of the chewing gums that were jamming the mechanism. The problem was so severe, that the Singaporean Government decided to ban chewing gum… Yeah, that’s right. Since 1992, the use of chewing gum in Singapore is prohibited by the law (unless it is prescribed for medical purposes).

The problem of “gumfitti” (a word used to describe chewing gum pollution in public places) is still faced in many places where young people are often present, especially at schools, where children stick gums under their cheers and tables. Even Universities have this issue! I myself stuck a chewing gum under a table at QUT Library at KG, a minute before I decided to write this post.

I was thinking here: what can people do in order to prevent kids from doing this stuff?

So far, I came up with two ways that might be efficient to a certain degree.

First way: A Radical Campaign against littering that would be aimed at school kids and written in their language. Most of the “don’t litter” and “don’t smoke” signs are straight and boring. People just ignore them. A sign might be quite noticeable as well, but, due to the lack of convincing, people would ignore the message anyway. But what if sign makers would try to make it humorous and presented on the level of school kids, on the level at which they might actually get convinced?

I tried to imagine what that sort of signs might look like. I opened GIMP 2 on my laptop and quickly made these:

If this Psychology wouldn’t work, then people can try to use Chemistry…

Second way: making seats and tables with a thin layer of some waxy substance on their surface, which would repel chewing gums (which are made of a substance based on polyethene, apparently). I can’t say what substances could be stable and safe enough to be considered practical, but I’m pretty sure that people who study Organic Chemistry would easily work it out.

It could be expensive to apply this sort of chemicals to seats and tables in public places, but I think it would totally worth it. At the end, if this method would proof to be successful, the demand will skyrocket, and the cost will eventually decreased.


Those were just some random thoughts.

  1. Angus Carnie says:

    In the UK we are not very good at recycling as in reality we make it to complicated and with many every day disposable goods we actually have no recycling solutions at all. Without shipping to third world countries for manual segregation our last remaining landfill sites would be over run within weeks.
    New cost effective solutions have to be found that not only cost less but actually produce a valuable and useful product.
    With the ever growing consumer led demands in recent years there are currently no recycling solutions for a massive list of everyday goods which actually becomes litter or waste!
    With LITTER GLUE we have created a very simple solution that for the 936 everyday items that there is no solution to can now be recycled in minutes into pathways, walls, bollards, garden furniture and many other useful products. With absolutely NO SEGREGATION they do not even have to be clean!! So simple even with poor DIY abilities a product could be formed.
    So what are these 936 items – well items such as
    Carrier bags
    Chocolate wrappers
    Fast food containers
    Plastic wrapped newspaper inserts
    Prepared food containers- even including remnants of food
    Dog waste
    Cat litter
    Cigarette ends and packets
    Chewing gum
    Cotton buds and other toiletries
    Expired bank cards
    Cheese wrapping
    Laminated plastics
    Food waste
    Metalised plastics
    Broken children’s toys
    Vinyl records
    Coat hangers

    And many more!
    Of course added to this in litter there are many items which could be recycled if they were in correct recycling bins but the good news is they can also be used in litter glue without ANY form of segregation.

    These can all be crushed mixed with litter glue and poured into either a mould used to repair pathways/pavements or create new ones. Within hours fully dried and can be painted or top coated with gravel- this is purely for cosmetic purposes.

    Job done and all at less cost than landfill

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