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Chew On This: These Poppin' Promotional Products Are Made From Used Gum

Approximately 74% of adults feel an unattractive smile can hurt their career success, but halitosis can be just as fatal to your professional aspirations. As a result, many of us rely on a stick of spearmint to keep our breath smelling fresh. However, used chewing gum can be a real problem for the planet when it's allowed to stick around (if you'll pardon the pun). Now, one British designer is literally turning trash into treasure by encouraging locals to recycle their gum -- and is using the sticky stuff to make useful rubber and plastic products.

You may have been told as a child not to swallow your gum, but it turns out that throwing it out isn't much better. Although chewing gum was once made of natural substances, modern day gum contains polyisobutylene, which is a synthetic, petroleum-based polymer similar to the plastics used in synthetic rubber. Basically, that means most of the gum you see in stores isn't biodegradable; once it's chewed up and thrown away, it simply sits on the sidewalk or in landfills.

That is, until now. Gumdrop, a UK-based company founded by designer Anna Bullus, is reportedly the world's first company to recycle chewing gum and use it to make a number of plastic and rubber products. They're the ones behind the Gumdrop Bin, a bright pink receptacle seen on many a British street wherein locals can deposit their used-up gum. The bin itself is made of recycled gum, and chewing gum collected is used to make items ranging from reusable coffee cups to cute rain boots, all of which consist of at least 20% gum.

The final products are often used as promotional items for Gumdrop's mission. The company has designed everything from key rings and door stops to guitar picks and bicycle spokes, all bearing the Gumdrop name and ethos. Considering that 53% of people who own a promotional item use said item at least once per week, it's clear that Bullus is serious about spreading the bubbly word.

The initiative is a real coup for many municipalities, universities, and public services, as well. A three-month trial at London's Heathrow Airport resulted in savings of over $8,000 in cleaning costs. In some locations, the installation of Gumdrop receptacles decreased gum litter by 89%. Since an estimated 560,000 tons of gum are chewed worldwide every year, many local governments and property owners could benefit from what Gumdrop is trying to do.

Although using an item that used to be in someone else's mouth might take some getting used to, some big brands are throwing their support behind (and extra materials to) Gumdrop. Despite the fact the receptacles haven't shown up in the U.S. as yet, the largest gum manufacturer in the world, Wrigley, has provided financial aid to the project. The Chicago-based company also sends their leftover gum waste from their UK factory to Bullus's cause.

Alex Hunter-Dunn, spokesperson for Wrigley, told the BBC: "Gumdrop is a really creative and innovative way to get people responsibly disposing of their gum and binning it. We fundamentally believe that behavior change is the only long-term sustainable solution to tackle the issue and we are very much behind that."

So next time you're tempted to spit out your gum in a trash can, take a look around for a small pink bin. Who knows -- that minty fresh stick could soon be turned into your favorite travel mug or waterproof footwear.

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