“Years from now, when my grandchildren ask me what happened to all of China’s trees, I’ll have to say, ‘We made them into chopsticks.’ Isn’t that pitiful?” – A quote from Kang Dahu. Kang, is a member of an environmental movement in China known as the “Chopstick Crusade”, the group is made up of volunteers working to make people aware of the impact disposable wooden chopsticks has on the nations forests.
China uses about a hundred trees a day to give citizens a one-time use utensil- the chopstick. The “Chopstick Crusade” and “Bring your own Chopstick” movements are spreading throughout China to end this. Environmentalist hope to decrease the number of 45 billion, which is how many disposable wooden chopsticks are currently being made annually by country. By using re-usable utensils, the number 25 million, which is the number of trees chopped down annually to make China’s chopsticks could be spared.
China’s Environmental Protection Foundation states that at current de-forestation rates: “forest will disappear from China in 20 years”. The foundation constructed a tree using 30,000 used wooden chopsticks; they then chopped it down. Once sixteen feet in height, the toppled tree rests beside a sidewalk in downtown Shanghai. It’s a public display of the unnecessary waste caused by chopsticks. Beside the fallen tree volunteers like Kang Dahu offer information, statistics, and most importantly re-usable chopsticks to the public- that was in 2010.
In 2011, Greenpeace has done a similar project creating several more chopstick trees and planting them in a Beijing mall known as “The Place”.
Chopsticks can be made out of a variety of materials from metal, plastic (recycled), and porcelain- but the Chinese favorite is the disposable wooden. In America we too use one-time use utensils at many fast food restaurants. American one-users is generally made of plastic, yet it is an avoidable waste just the same. Plastic forks, spoons, and knifes (not to mention cups, and straws) go into landfills with plastic bags (even the plastic utensils are often initially sealed in a bag) , and single use water bottles- maybe it is time for an American “Bring your own Cutlery” movement.
So when you (wherever you are) look at the image of the chopped down chop stick tree, think not that this is an issue for the (possibly?) foreign country, but to your own community as well- what does your society waste? Can that consumption (number) be decreased? And most importantly what can YOU and those around you do to make a change?
These are all good questions to ask yourself. The answers may not be simple, nor easily accomplished, but every individual action (like bringing your own cutlery to KFC) adds up, and makes a difference. So that if someone were to gather up all your individual waste- that bag would be small. That’s what is most important, because if all people followed your example, the world would be a cleaner, greener, place- preserved for generations to come.