Chopsticks have been used for over 5000 years and are an important part of many Asian cultures. They also signify sustenance, history, the sacred (special ones are used in religious ceremonies) and the mundane. Not all Asian cultures use chopsticks. For many Asian Americans, they represent the strengths of our ancestors and our cultural inheritance.
The distinction, of course, should be made between reusable/washable chopsticks and the throw-away kind. Waribashi, disposable chopsticks, pose a great problem to our environment through deforestation and destruction of forest habitats. Every year, throughout the world, hundreds of billions of disposable chopsticks are thrown away after a single-use.
If you are a business/restaurant in San Francisco Japantown, we would love your chopsticks. Simply collect the used disposable chopsticks from your customers after they eat. Shake off large bits of food that might be stuck on them and put them in the small green bin that we provide. We will collect your chopsticks several times a week. Later you will be asked to put your used chopsticks in large green bins (look for Waribashi Project signs) near the Japantown Merchants Association office in the Japantown Garage. The Project will wash the waribashi for reuse in sculpture.
If you have chopsticks in your kitchen drawers that you have to get rid of, you can drop them off at the JCCCNC, 1840 Sutter Street in San Francisco. Map.
The Waribashi Project doesn't have all the answers but here are a few suggestions:
Can you think of more ideas? Send your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are some highlighted articles:
Information on Japanese names for chopsticks http://www.echopsticks.org/japanese-chopsticks.html
History of Chopsticks from a Japanese website http://japanweb.aboho.com/hashi.htm
The Waribashi Conundrum http://www.japanvisitor.com/jc/waribashi.html
Japanese Environmentalist talk about waribashi http://www.geocities.com/green_in_japan/issues/waribashi.html
China and Burmese forests http://forests.org/archive/asia/chgloeco.htm
Changes in Cambodian forest policy/ China will consume its forests in a decade with chopstick production http://www.ngoforum.org.kh/Environment/Docs/Updated_Information_on_the_Environment.htm
Malaysian Rainforest Destruction http://forests.org/cgi-bin/texis.exe/webinator/search/?order=r&query=chopsticks&submit=Go&pr=archive
Japan and chopsticks http://www.american.edu/projects/mandala/TED/chopstik.htm
Elepants slaughtered for ivory chopsticks in Sudan http://forests.org/articles/reader.asp?linkid=40058
Junk mail in the US (US consumption of paper) http://temp.sfgov.org/sfenvironment/facts/junk_mail.htm
Clearcutting Canada for chopsticks http://www.american.edu/projectsmandala/TED/canchop.htm
Shaanxi, China ban of disposable chopsticks http://forests.org/archive/asia/shbanson.htm
Accelerating Demand for Land Wood, and Paper Pushing World's Forests to the Brink http://www.worldwatch.org/press/news/1998/04/04/
85% waste of aspens used for chopstick production http://forests.org/archive/asia/canadmit.htm
Tress cut down for chopsticks http://www.21stcentury.com.cn/newspaper/content/20010215/200102151.htm
Many articles found of forests.org
Other wood products that have few or single-use lives:
Can you name more? Send your additions to this list to Donna