When I wrote this post about reusable chopsticks over at The Kitchn, I was really just thinking of using pretty, special utensils to dress up a meal. I hadn't much considered the impact disposable chopsticks have on the environment:
But it turns out, the seemingly innocuous paper-wrapped wooden chopsticks are a huge problem in parts of the world where they're used several times a day:
- In China, an estimated 45 billion pairs of disposable chopsticks are used and thrown away annually. This adds up to 1.7 million cubic metres of timber or 25 million fully grown trees every year. (from Wikipedia)
- In April 2006, the People's Republic of China imposed a five percent tax on chopsticks to discourage excessive consumption and waste. (from Wikipedia) Here's a forum discussion of the tax on China Daily.
- A bleaching agent is used to lighten the color of chopsticks, which poses health risks to users. Read about this experiment at Helium for a description.
Makes me want to bring my own set of inexpensive bamboo chopsticks along with me (or pull them out of the drawer next time I have takeout). Have you heard about the concern over disposable chopsticks? Where do you stand?
(Pictured: Crate and Barrel reusable bamboo chopsticks, 5 sets for $10)