Getting a wad of freshly chewed gum stuck to your shoes can be pretty disgusting, so the idea of slipping into footwear created entirely from recycled gum doesn’t seem immediately appealing – until you take a look at these adorable rain boots from British company Gumdrop Ltd. It’s just one of many cool products made with what the firm has dubbed Gum-tec.
Designer Anna Bullus started Gumdrop back in 2009 to combat the prevalence of chewing gum litter (the U.K. spends millions of dollars each year removing the unsightly goo from sidewalks). After doing some research, she learned that chewing gum’s main ingredient is a plastic-like polymer created from petrochemicals. The gum base is “the same stuff you find in the inner tube of bicycle wheels,” Bullus told the BBC.
Armed with this knowledge, Bullus designed Gumdrops, pink bubble-shaped gum receptacles, themselves made of recycled chewing gum. Full bins go straight to a recycling plant where the waste is ground into pieces and mixed with other recycled plastic polymers. The resulting mixture is fed through an injection molding machine and transformed into an array of products.
Much of the recycled chewing gum becomes clever promotional products, furthering the Gumdrop mission. For instance, the University of Leeds installed 10 Gumdrop bins around campus. To promote the new initiative, Bullus created hot pink rulers and bicycle spokes, made from recycled chewing gum, and branded with company information. Gumdrop also handed out personal gum disposal bins on keyrings. Other promotional products Gumdrop manufactures include travel coffee mugs, doorstops, guitar picks and combs.
Gumdrops don’t magically solve the issue of chewing gum litter, but institutions that install them – in conjunction with educational campaigns – have noticed significant litter reductions. Heathrow Airport, for example, reported saving about $8,000 in cleaning costs after a three-month trial.
With an estimated 560,000 tons of gum chewed worldwide every year, Bullus should have plenty of raw material to work with if her company expands beyond the UK. Let’s hope this is one trend that sticks.
A Gum-tec travel mug like this is made with around 42 pieces of used chewing gum.
Guitar picks are among the promotional items Gumdrop makes from recycled chewing gum.