Some Asian countries have been using chopsticks for more than three thousand years and now, with the expansion of Asian food around the world, these eating utensils are used everywhere. Chopsticks are commonly made of plastic, metal or wood, and like our western pieces of cutlery, some of them are reusable and some are disposable. Wooden chopsticks are the most common ones and they are usually disposed after every meal.
Some weeks ago, Greenpeace carried out a campaign in China to raise awareness against disposable chopsticks, in favour of those which can be used more than once. Is it an overreaction? Definitely not, if we take a look at the figures.
Only in China, 57,000 million pairs of disposable wooden chopsticks were manufactured in 2009. Taking into account that China has a population of 1,300 million inhabitants, it means that each inhabitant disposes 43 pairs of chopsticks every year as average, resulting in two pairs every week. These figures account for many chopsticks and too much wood to manufacture them: to be precise, 3.8 million trees. And this is only in China. The rest of the world also uses many pairs of chopsticks which are thrown away after being used just once. It is not the end of the world, but we could easily spare it in order to avoid deforestation in our planet, which represents 130,000 square km every year –that is, a surface area like Greece.
- Greenpeace Campaign in China: http://www.greenpeace.org/eastasia/news/chopsticks-trees
- Video on this campaign: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=28hZkIHTnnA
- World deforestation rates: http://www.greenfacts.org/es/recursos-forestales/l-3/2-extent-deforestation.htm#2p0