Friday, March 17, 2017

Bad with chopsticks? Don't worry- it's bad for the environment!

It's a late night for you, so you want something easy and quick to eat. There's no time to cook or go out, so you settle for ordering Chinese takeout. The food comes, but they forgot the fork. All you have is chopsticks, but since you don't know how to use them, you throw them away and settle for a fork you already have at home.

The chopsticks you threw away were made by slave laborers in China's Gulag Archipelago. Those chopsticks were made in unsanitary conditions, possibly thrown all over the factory floor. Many consider chopsticks to be environmentally friendly because they're typically not made out of plastic. However, for that reason alone, these wooden, disposable chopsticks can be harmful among people as well as the environment. (Song)

In these factories, the chopsticks are exposed to sulfur, paraffin, hydrogen peroxide and insect repellent. These chemicals can be harmful to the environment as well as the human body. Paraffin and hydrogen peroxide can affect the digestive system. Once these chopsticks are thrown away irresponsibly, like in the ocean or rivers, these chemicals can affect wildlife as well.

Over 80 billion chopsticks are produced from China and thrown away every year. According to an article by The Epoch Times, a single 20-year-old tree can be used to make about 4,000 pairs of chopsticks. If you're bad at math like I am, that's a lot of trees that get chopped down, just for something to be thrown away at the end. This deforestation affects global warming, by the trees not being able to capture CO2.

To combat this issue, it's recommended to get reusable chopsticks instead. While Asian-Americans like myself agree that wooden chopsticks make a difference in taste, it's important to understand the impact these chopsticks make on the environment.



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