FOR THE TREE-HUGGERS
But when it comes to eating utensils, no-one can out do Japan. The use of waribashi, or disposable chopsticks, is rampant, and unstoppable. It is deeply ingrained in the culture, and there is no escaping the delicately split shards of hardwood, appealingly wrapped in their own paper case. In restaurants, in friends' houses, at school, at work, at Lawsons, one is constantly bombarded with waribashi. These innocent looking little sticks are slowly, but surely, gobbling up the world's forests, reducing our carbon dioxide sinks and contributing to global warming.
Japan is the world's biggest importer of tropical and temperate hardwoods, responsible for over half the world trade in timber. The Japanese use 23-25 billion chopsticks every year. If these were placed end to end (in pairs), they would stretch from Sapporo in Hokkaido, to Nagasaki, in Kyushu.
Even better, find creative uses for used waribashi. Prop up plants; make a mobile or a sculpture. If you teach in school, use them to make signs which students can hold up. Get your elementary school kids to colour in flags and attach them to waribashi, to decorate the classroom. If you have an open fire, they make great fire starters. There is no escaping waribashi. Modern innovations in producing "'recycled wood" chopsticks will take a long time to catch on, being new and expensive. Right now, it looks like Japan's mission to gobble up the forests of the world in the name of disposable eating utensils is set to continue into the distant future.