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Teachers: Citizenship: Globalisation Environmental

Last Updated: Friday February 24 2006 16:39 GMT

Chewing gum: Stop the drop

Citizenship 11-14/KS3/Levels E&F
Globalisation - environmental implications

Chewing gum on UK street
During the week beginning 20 February 2006, at least 12 areas in the UK will get government money for an advertising campaign encouraging people to bin their used chewing gum.

Students design a campaign to deter local people from dropping their gum.

Learning aims
  • Understand how gum pollution affects people at a local level
  • Look at pollution solutions

Case study

Explain to students:

During the week beginning 20 February 2006, at least 12 areas in the UK will get government money for an advertising campaign encouraging people to bin their used chewing gum.

It follows a successful pilot schemes in Preston, Manchester and Maidstone in 2005.

These campaigns involved:

  • Handing out special disposal pouches to use when there are no bins around
  • Displaying posters in public places such as busy shopping areas
  • Printing the message on beer mats
  • Giving wardens the power to fine people 50
Ask students:
  • Do you chew gum?
  • What do you do with it afterwards?
  • Which of the above pilot campaigns actions do you think were most effective?
  • In Preston, the campaign helped to reduce gum litter by 80 per cent
  • The advertising slogan - 'Thanks for binning your gum when you're done' - was remembered by over 55 per cent of those questioned
  • The threat of a 50 fine was the most convincing deterrent
Ask the students: Do the results of the pilots surprise you? Why/why not?


Cleaning chewing gum from a UK street

Comments evaluation

Distribute this worksheet on chewing gum comments.

Students put a tick next to three comments they agree with and cross next to three they disagree with.

Students can also join in the online vote.

People submitting comments to the Newsround website suggest six broad solutions to the problem of gum-littered streets:

  • Ban it
  • Bin it
  • Polluters pay
  • Makers pay
  • Incentive not to drop
  • Redesign gum
From this list, students chose the category which best describes each comment and write it at the side of each argument.

Main activity

Your campaign

Students imagine they are local councillors who have been given government money for a campaign to deter people in their area from dropping gum.

The money comes with a condition: In order to get it, they must prepare a presentation to convince members of the government that it will be spent effectively.

In pairs or small groups students prepare an outline of their campaign.

Things to think about are:

  • Which of the above broad solutions will work in your area? You can pick more than one.
  • How will you spend the money?
  • Who will you employ and what will be their job roles?
  • Who are the worst offenders? How will you get the message across to them?
  • Where in your area is there a lot of gum litter? How will you tackle this?
  • When is the best time to get the message across to people?
  • For how long will the campaign last?
  • How will you know if your campaign has been successful? What research will you do?
Have a look at the DEFRA news release by clicking on the right-hand, green box. Written in May 2005, it details how Preston, Manchester and Maidstone conduct their campaign and the actions they will take.

You can either:

Write a similar news release about your campaign


Present your ideas to the group. For this, you will need to make speech notes and illustrate your presentation with slides, diagrams or posters.

Extension activity

More pollution solutions

Students make a list of other polluting products e.g. cigarettes.

Using the solutions list, students write down three ways to combat the pollution, for example:

  • Ban smoking in public places
  • Charge 10 a packet
  • Give people free nicotine patches, encouraging them to give up
Students design a poster to promote one of these solutions.


Students read out their news releases or show their presentations to the group.

The group vote on the best proposal.

Ask students: Why is this the most effective idea?

Teachers' background

Chewing gum on UK street

It costs around 150 million to clean gum off the UK streets.

Authorities that carry out frequent cleansing can spend up to 200,000 a year on clearing gum.

Under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act, chewing gum is classed as litter. Therefore people who drop it risk fines of 50.

At present. there are no plans at present to introduce a tax on chewing gum.

The chewing gum industry is researching an easier to remove/biodegradable gum base, however no new products are yet ready for testing.

The Chewing Gum Action Group was set up to find a solution to chewing gum pollution. It brings together several groups including chewing gum manufacturers, local authorities, and the government Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

For hundreds more news-based lessons, click on Teachers on the left hand side

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