J500 Media and the Environment

Chopped Down for Chopsticks by matthewtb

chopsticksI 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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2 Comments so far
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One of my favorite sushi restaurants as a section where frequent customers’ reusable chopsticks are kept for their next visit. It’s a nice way to encourage people to not use wooden sticks each time they eat there.

Comment by jessicasb

Isn’t it crazy that meals produce so much waste. Not only food waste but all the utensils (wooden in this case plastic in ours) and then the clean up (products, napkins, water and towels, etc). Taking steps to reduce this waste seems like the easiest too.

Comment by bryand09

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