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One Source of Deforestation: Chopsticks

By on March 19th, 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…

  1. One Response to “One Source of Deforestation: Chopsticks”

  2. By Charlie on May 14, 2013 | Reply

    They could just minimize the amount of trees they take from the forest. Forests tend to grow between 15 and 25% every 20 years depending on the trees that make up that particular forest. If they only cut down 15-25%, then the forest would be sustained. Moreover, if they advocated reusable chopsticks along with these sustainable measures, you would fix both deforestation and wasted chopsticks. This is a practice done by some paper companies. Green Earth enterprise follows this practice when buying paper and I think it is a practice that can span many types of industries that rely on trees as a source for their manufactured products.


    A forest grows approximately 15 to 25% every 20 years, depending on the type of trees. That means that if you clear approximately 15 to 25 % every 20 years, you’re essentially keeping the forest the same size.