died in the wool ______

To have no set purpose in one's life is the harlotry of the will -Stephen Mackenna-

Friday, June 10, 2005

waribashi

most non-japanese point the finger at Japan for its excessive use of waribashi (disposable wooden chopsticks). I avoid using them whenever I can, but at the office they are avaliable, and my mind has just never been in the right place at the right time to bring non-disposable chopsticks with me to the office.

brooding over my poor planning, I decided to ask someone in my department what they're made of, to get the conversation started. He told me that they're made from different wood depending on where you are. Then I asked him why japan uses waribashi. He told me that waribashi are made from the leftovers from making other larger purposes, and that they had nothing to do with clear cutting.

I was so suprised to hear this. What was the western media making such a big deal about if japan was simply using the leftovers to make them?

I decided to do a quick google search and came up with this site. It looks like we are both a little bit right:

Waribashi (disposable wooden chopsticks) waste the second greatest amount of wood. The use of waribashi began in the 1870's. At that time they were made from scraps left by woodworkers. But now, about 410,000 cubic meters of timber are cut every year just to make waribashi. Japan consumes 130,000,000 waribashi everyday, 11,000,000,000 pairs a year.

I have no idea of this information is accurate; after sending it to him, he noted, and I somewhat agree with him, that the numbers seemed awful large. The japanese population is 126.5 million and I don't think everybody uses more than one pair of waribashi a day. Schools, for example, almost always use non-desposible ones for there students, and that would eliminate a huge number. Japanese people rarely use waribashi at home unless they get them at the convenience store. I suppose that the number isn't far off.

Still it seems silly that our company, while using non-desposible bento boxes, continues to use waribashi. They must have the facilities wash those bento boxes, I can't think of any limitation that would warrant using waribashi. When I visited one of our factories in the neighboring prefecture, Kanagawa, the mess hall there used the same bento boxes as we did, but had non-disposible chopsticks.

This is all kind of hypocrtical. Shining the spotlight back on myself, my elementary school always had sporks for everyone to use. The savings and possible hassles from using washable silverware also makes me wonder which is more cost saving. But I can guarantee you that for adult settings, such as company dining halls, they would not use disposable silverware, almost always.

If you think about food culture, us convenice stores rarely sell things that you need any utensils to eat with. Here they do, and if you're going to sell bento, you're going to need chopsticks. I don't eat them, but a lot of people do.

3 Comments:

At 2:03 AM, Blogger The Waribashi Project Blog said...

Hi Travis,
Check out The Waribashi Project and the art installation of 170,000+ waribashi collected from 12 restaurants in SF Japantown over 7 weeks.
Yes, there seems to be deep misinformation in Japan about where waribashi come from. 90% of waribashi in Japan (15 million trees worth) come from China which, at its current rate of logging, could be deforested in less than a decade. For what I could gather, Japan only gets 10% of its 15 billion waribashi (old statistic) from domestic sources, It is possible that these are only from "scrap." This represents just a tiny fraction of their total wood consumption.

Donna Keiko Ozawa
The Waribashi Project

 
At 2:04 AM, Blogger The Waribashi Project Blog said...

Hi Travis,
Check out The Waribashi Project and the art installation of 170,000+ waribashi collected from 12 restaurants in SF Japantown over 7 weeks.
Yes, there seems to be deep misinformation in Japan about where waribashi come from. 90% of waribashi in Japan (15 million trees worth) come from China which, at its current rate of logging, could be deforested in less than a decade. For what I could gather, Japan only gets 10% of its 15 billion waribashi (old statistic) from domestic sources, It is possible that these are only from "scrap." This represents just a tiny fraction of their total wood consumption.


Donna Keiko Ozawa
The Waribashi Project
Carry your own chopsticks!

 
At 10:57 PM, Blogger Mies said...

Time to watch my chopstick movie ?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K-jXvO26cp8
Let me know what you think


See also;
http://www.tekutekudaimyo.blogspot.com

Mies Heerma

 

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