Can You Flush Chewing Gum Down the Toilet?

Let’s face it—your toilet and your kitchen are the most used part of your house. This means that when your toilet is clogged, it’s going to be catastrophic to all your family members and, if the timing is wrong, even guests. And throwing chewing gum into the toilet isn’t going to make the situation any better.

This post is meant to help you know if you can flush chewing gum into the toilet, including other things you might need to know about chewing gums. Let’s cut to the chase!

Is It Ok to Flush Gum Down the Toilet?

No, flushing gum down the toilet isn’t the best of ideas because they will probably stick to your pipes which will, in turn, cause more challenges. When your gum sticks on the pipes, it will mean that you’ll have to call for help from experts to remove the gum, which is also costly.

Indeed, you can resist the urge to flush your gum down the toilet. It seems convenient to just flush it down the toilet and forget about it, but it’s not a good idea after considering plumbing problems. The only things that you should flush down the toilet are, peep, poop, and toilet paper, and anything else should go straight to the trash can. 

Is Chewing Gum Bad for the Septic Tank?

No, chewing gum isn’t bad, but you shouldn’t swallow it. Also, it’s not a great idea to flush your gum down the toilet because of plumbing issues. Just throw your gum in the trash can and avoid all the drama and complications.

Chewing gum doesn’t stop being sticky just because you’re done chewing it. It remains sticky, and it will get stuck on your pipes on their way to the septic tank, which isn’t what you want. Once the gum is in your septic tank, it will get stuck to the inside of the tank, and even when it doesn’t get stuck; it will break down.

Is Gum Biodegradable?

No, chewing gum isn’t biodegradable. Most chewing gum products aren’t produced from inorganic polyvinyl or polyisobutylene acetate rubber that is mainly resistant to biological breakdown systems.

They are the exact products that are required to make tire tubes and adhesives. These materials are designed to last longer for heavy-duty use, and that’s why you notice so much chewing gum on benches, lampposts, and sidewalks over a long period without change in their form.

According to the study conducted by  Britain Tidy, chewing gum is only second to cigarettes when it comes to biodegradability. Both cigarettes and chewing gum are made of unique plastics that cannot be interfered with or broken down by living organisms like bacteria. The same study shows that 95% of UK streets are littered with chewing gum.

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The abundance of chewing gum on the streets is not the only way to show their inability to biodegrade. The truth is, our body also cannot handle or digest when we swallow them. Despite having microorganisms and myriad digestive juices inside us, our stomach still can’t handle chewing gum.

The only way chewing gum is excreted is through our stool. However, some unfortunate instances where children accidentally or knowingly swallowed chewing gum have had the gum stuck in their rectum. This leaves Doctors with no choice other than to pull out the soft, elastic masses of gums from patients’ rectums as the body cannot eject chewing gum naturally.

How Long Does Gum Take to Decompose?

Although there isn’t a conclusive answer to this question due to lack of adequate research, it’s agreed by many that chewing gum has a lifespan of 5 to 1000 years before it decomposes. This lifespan has been derived from the general understanding of synthetic plastic and rubber.

Yes—Living organisms and bacteria cannot succeed in breaking down these products. If anything can break them down, then it has to be UV light from the sun and sheer force. The UV light and the force make the plastic and the rubber disintegrates over the years into microplastic fragments.

The long lifespan is one of the reasons why researchers have started looking for ways to use chewing gum instead of letting it pollute the environment or waiting for it to decompose, which is very unlikely.

Terracycle, a recycling company, has been undertaking chewing gum recycling projects in the US, Europe, and Mexico to gather and collect chewing gum litter, clean them and incorporate them with other plastics to develop new products like playground equipment or door stops.

There’s also Gum Drop,  another company that has partnered with gum companies such as Wrigley, which uses chewing gum by recycling them to come up with frisbees, pencils, and coffee cups.

Is Chewing Gum Bad for the Environment?

Yes, chewing gum is bad for the environment because it’s made from polymers, a synthetic plastic that doesn’t biodegrade. Whenever gum is tossed on the ground or sidewalks, it sits there until it is removed, which is time-consuming and costly. And because gum is a natural biodegradable substance, it can make its way to the food chain.

There’s a high chance that chewing gum will be there longer than us because most chewing gums are not biodegradable. The common problem is the thermoplastic polymer (polyvinyl acetate) used to make glue and used in the many UK chewing gums. This shows that used chewing gum will stick around for a more extended period than anticipated.

The Wrigley company responsible for chewing gums like Hubba Bubba, Extra and Airwaves, has established that polyvinyl acetate can be used in other products. However, when HuffPost UK asked the Wrigley company to name the products used with gum, they could not give a conclusive answer.

Can Chewing Gum Can Be Recycled?

Yes, numerous ways chewing gum can be recycled. One that strikes my attention is British designer Anna Bullus who has set up a recycler company and reprocess gum products. Her company receives backing from popular companies like Gum Drop and Wrigley, making coffee cups, pencils, and shoe soles. 

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Chewing gum ranks second among the biggest litters the world has ever seen, making it a significant environmental problem that needs quick solutions. Anna said they had spent £150 million a year cleaning up gum litter in the United Kingdom alone. She further says she wants to be part of the solution till the very end.

Apart from Wrigley, there’s also Terracycle company, which also undertakes gum recycling projects in Mexico and across the US to establish such projects in the UK soon. They clean and blend chewing gum, rubber, and plastics to develop new products like rubber flooring or door stops.

If you want to change to a more eco-friendly gum brand, then I’ve got you covered. Try Chicza organic chewing gum, which not only contains elastic rubber from the rain forest tree chicle tree but is also biodegradable. How do they make it? By boiling the tree sap into a thick paste.

How Do You Dispose of Gum?

Just simply drop it into a Gumdrop bin, and that small gesture will go a long way in bringing a huge difference to the world.

When chewing gum is disposed of in a standard bin, the streets remain clean even though the gum will not be recycled and will probably end in a landfill. We all know that throwing chewing gum on the ground has more cons than pros.

Throwing chewing gum not only causes unsightly blots and becomes costly to remove but also destroys the beautiful environment. Not to mention how incredibly challenging it is to remove chewing gum from shoes or clothes.

The safest way to reduce being careless with chewing gum and ensure it is recycled effectively is to drop it in the Gumdrop. Gumdrop ensures chewing gum is completely recycled and finally processed into different or new gum.

Is Gum Bad for Dogs?

Yes, gums or candy that don’t have sugar contain xylitol which is extremely bad for dogs. Any candy that contains xylitol is dangerous for small dogs’ health. It causes seizures and liver failure within hours.

As much xylitol makes dogs sick in minutes, dogs don’t show signs until after a few days. If you suspect your dog might have interacted with a piece of sugar-free gum, call a veterinarian straight away. The faster the medical care, the quicker your dog will recover. But what are the signs of xylitol ingestion? Read on.

Signs of Xylitol Ingestion:

  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Drunken behavior
  • Tremors or Seizures
  • The yellowness of the eyes and gums

Vomiting is the fastest way to know your dog ate sugar-free candy. The xylitol makes the dog’s pancreas produce more insulin which ensures that blood sugar drops. Dogs in this situation often tremble, have seizures and act like they are drunk. This is an emergency that needs immediate care.

Apart from xylitol causing hypoglycemia, it also causes liver failure. The exact details about how and why liver failure occurs are yet to be known but what is certain is that xylitol makes the liver stop functioning in less than 72 hours of ingestion. For dogs to recover from liver failure, they need intensive medical care.

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When your dog’s liver has severely been affected by xylitol, it will need a blood transfusion to revive the hopes of your dog being healthy again. However, when the case is too out of control, it’s improbable that your dog may survive. This is enough reason why your dog needs to stay away from xylitol.

If you have a dog, make sure your dog has no access to sugar-free candy or gum because it’s dangerous and harmful to their health. However, we can agree that most of these cases are generally accidental, but still, you need to be extra cautious. It’s typical of a dog to get attracted by gum when it’s roaming around and swallow it, so you need to get rid of no gums in your house or store them safely.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is Chewing Gum Plastic?

Yes. We chew on plastic in the form of gum. Some of us chew on the tree sap gum known as chicle, but we have moved more to the polymer these days. Polymer is plastic that’s made from oil which is close to what is used in car tires.

2. Can I Reuse Gum?

Yes, gum can be reused. I’ve previously tried out a medium-sized drop that was hard to chew even though it had a pungent taste. However, the strong flavor doesn’t last for long, but that didn’t stop me from adding another one on the same wad and kept it in a container with mouthwash after I used it.

3. Why Does Gum Have Plastic in It?

Because the gum base is mainly made of polymers, resins, and plasticizers, some elastomers make the chewing gum sticky and stretchy within polymers. On the other hand, plasticizers reduce brittleness and help in flexibility which is responsible for the elastic nature of the gum.

4. Is Gum Bad for the Ocean?

Yes. In whatever way you try to put it, chewing gum or bubble gum is a polymer that contains synthetic plastics that barely biodegrade. To make it worse, the food chain has already been affected by trashed chewing gum. The situation is so bad that they have been found in fish.

5. How Much Gum Is Bad for Dogs?

It will require 9 pieces of chewing gum to cause severe hypoglycemia if the dog weighs 45 pounds. In the same context, 45 pieces of chewing gum will be needed to cause severe liver failure, which shows that it’s unlikely for dogs to get sick by having a few non-sugary gums.

Conclusion

We’ve seen that flashing your chewing gum down the toilet isn’t a good idea as it may stick on your pipes. Similarly, it’s terrible to dispose of gum aimlessly in the environment as it takes quite a long time to decompose.

The shining light on chewing gums can be reused and recycled to have a free litter environment. However, you still have to dispose of gums well.

About Sarah Walker

Sarah is a homemaker and is passionate about fixing little things in and around her house. She loves to do DIY hacks and keeps on writing about those things in her blog. When she is not writing, she keeps herself busy with her twins Cathy and Mickey.