While I would mostly use a pair of spoons and forks to eat my meals, I’m also very much into using chopsticks whenever I can. I have my favorite pair at home but when I eat at restaurants in East Asia most of the time they use disposable chopsticks. Just like many disposable things, these contribute to so much waste around the world, with 80 billion pairs used and thrown away every year. One solution is of course to use a reusable pair and take it with you everywhere. But how do you ensure that those that are thrown away can still be recovered in some way?
A Canadian company actually tried to do something about all those used disposable chopsticks. They salvaged used items from Vancouver restaurants, then turned them into furniture like tables, which is a good way for chopsticks to come full circle. They are also used to create decorative pieces and even other household items that you may need in the living room or kitchen. They would fit right in with your wood aesthetic if that’s what you’re wearing.
Of course, they have to do something more than just build furniture, because the used chopsticks themselves will grow mold and bacteria over the years. So they developed a proprietary process that involves coating them in water-based resin, then placing them in an industrial oven and “baking” them for about five hours. After that, they are broken down and integrated into a composite panel. Before transforming them into furniture or other materials, they are sanded and lacquered. In keeping with the eco-friendly nature, the whole process is chemical free and hence the end products are non-toxic.
One of the desks they created actually used over 10,000 wands. Since they collect an average of 350,000 chopsticks per week in Vancouver alone, there should be enough chopstick waste for everyone. Hopefully other cities or areas of the world where they throw away a lot of these disposable utensils can adopt something like this just to make sure they aren’t left in landfills to rot.