03/01/05 — Gum crisis: A sticky issue plagues Britain

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Gum crisis: A sticky issue plagues Britain

Things obviously are getting better on the international scene. Well, at least in Great Britain.

Big in the news from London on a recent day wasn’t Iraq or Iran or North Korea’s nukes. It was gum — chewing gum.

Specifically, the issue was what to do about the problem of discarded gum. It has reached the crisis stage. Recently Great Britain convened a national “gum summit,” bringing together “major minds” of the kingdom.

Cox News Service reported that assorted British governments spend some $300 million a year to get gum off the streets and sidewalks.

Enterprising Brits have tried a wide range of techniques of ridding the landscape of discarded gum, employing such techniques as steam, freezing chemicals, water pressure and scrapers.

Some communities have put up roadside containers for the disposal of gum. And, of course, some politicians have proposed a tax — a penny per pack.

Education is seen as the real solution. Envisioned is a massive public relations effort to convince chewers that old gum must not be randomly discarded on the streets and sidewalks.

Alternative methods and depositories will be essential to success of the education program. There are many among the senior citizens who might be a bit baffled by the problem. In the old days, the proper place to dispose of a mouthful of bubblegum was under one’s seat in the theater.

That might cause some to react in revulsion.

But chewing gum was big in those days. And disposing of it never rose to a national crisis.

Published in Editorials on March 1, 2005 10:56 AM