Filed under: Food + Health, Waste + Recycling | Tags: bamboo, china, Chopsticks, deforestation, disposable, hygene, KU, Matt Bristow, reuse, South Korea, University of Kansas
I never thought the wooden chopsticks I use when eating sushi had such a large impact on the environment. These disposable utensils snap apart for eating and then are simply discarded following the meal. Since they are made of wood, the chopsticks will decompose easily compared to plastic. Unfortunately the manufacturing of wooden products, like chopsticks, is destroying the forests of China.
Disposable chopsticks are popular for the convenience factor but also for hygienic reasons. It makes better business sense to throw away the utensils than to wash and reuse them. Although you can readily find these disposable chopsticks in this county, places like South Korea and China are banning their use all together. These governments are urging their populations to use metal chopsticks that can be reused.
Bamboo, a fast growing ‘green’ material, is popular for making chopsticks, but the disposable ones are made from birch and poplar trees. Despite the Chinese ceasing their use of disposable chopsticks, countries like ours continue to use and dispose of chopsticks without much regard for the impact this has on forests. The challenge is getting those who regularly eat with chopsticks to change to reusable and sustainable bamboo or metal. Restaurants should switch from offering the convenience of disposable chopsticks to the sophistication of ornately decorated (reusable) chopsticks.
So if you like your wasabi as much as I do, consider investing in a personal set to carry along with you. Otherwise eat with a fork. (preferably not a plastic one)
By: Matt Bristow
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