Semi-Disposable Chopsticks

Semi-Disposable Chopsticks

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Re-use and Re-cycle are buzzwords of the moment, with many initiatives in place to help us cut down on the immense amount of waste we discard every day.

One small but significant effort is being made in China, where a staggering 57 billion pairs of wooden chopsticks are used and thrown away every year. They are just small things, you might say, but producing them accounts for the destruction of almost 4 million trees. Every year. That’s a vast amount of deforestation with all the environmental disaster that entails.

Change is not going to happen overnight, but on a recent trip to Chengdu we were intrigued to notice a new fashion for semi-disposable chopsticks in all the restaurants there.

The throw-away wooden pairs – the ones you have to pull apart to use (so you know they are completely fresh) –were originally introduced for hygiene reasons, and the theory remains the same.

Nowadays, however, what you get is a pair of ‘holders’ and a sealed packet with disposable wooden chopstick ends to wedge inside them. It’s not the perfect solution, but it uses about a third less wood per pair, which has to be a good start. Kudos to whoever thought of this!