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Industry Insight

One Source of Deforestation: Chopsticks

Here’s a good question for your next cocktail party:

By Richard Romano
Published: March 19, 2013

Here’s a good question for your next cocktail party: how many chopsticks can you get one tree? Turns out, the answer is 4,000, but as this article in the Washington Post last week pointed out, that’s not enough to keep up with the demand for disposable chopsticks, which consumes up to 20 million trees a year and is responsible for serious deforestation to the tune of 1.18 million square meters of forest every year, according to Greenpeace. (Even the Wall Street Journal attributed a 2010 Chinese mudslide that caused 700 fatalities on deforestation.) The Chinese government has tried to curb the demand for disposable chopsticks (the solution would seem obvious: non-disposable chopsticks and, no, not made of ivory) via taxation (by the way, certain types of lumber have also been implicated in the deforestation problem), but so far to no avail. If there is a bright side to this, it’s that there is a backlash emerging, primarily from celebrities and the young.
“Disposable chopsticks are destroying China’s forests,” a 26-year-old activist, dressed as an orangutan reportedly said at a protest at Microsoft’s Chinese headquarters. “We must protest this pointless waste!”
Okay, well, that’s a start...

Please offer your feedback to Richard. He can be reached at richard@whattheythink.com.



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