Thankfully wood is a renewable resource. However, with our planet now home to 7 billion people and growing, guest writer Brittany Lyons believes we must be more careful in our use of this oxygen-giving resource, including the chopsticks with which we enjoy our chow mein. GRM
Disposable Chopsticks and Global Deforestation
Humans are eating up our wood resources at an incredible rate – so fast, in fact, that the forests don’t have ample time to regrow. The result? Loss of crucial forested areas. This creates more problems than just a lack of resources for wood products. Humans (and other species, too) depend on trees to create much needed oxygen. In addition, forests provide habitat for a variety of species, so without trees, these species are likely to become endangered or extinct. Finally trees help to soak up carbon emissions from human activity, which is yet another issue of concern.
What can be done to reduce deforestation? While this seems like a large issue to tackle, changes can be made by starting small. One way would be to stop using disposable chopsticks. Although people in some countries only use chopsticks occasionally, China’s growing population consumes roughly 45 billion pairs of disposable chopsticks per year, states Greenpeace China. China also exports another 18 billion pairs. The high demand for this simple and seemingly harmless product actually requires that 100 acres of forest be cut down every day.
A case study from American University claims, “If consumption continues at its present rate, valuable, non-replenishable resources such as the much-needed rain and temperate rainforests will vanish forever.” Thus, reducing consumption of wood products like disposable chopsticks may be one of the best ways to tackle the issue of deforestation.
A number of organizations and national governments have already made the call to action, advocating against the use of disposable chopsticks. However, the movement faces strong opponents such as the potential loss of thousands of jobs in the manufacturing industry, and the increased costs to restaurants of reusable utensils.
While every issue has two sides, the repercussions of deforestation are incredibly far-reaching. Should society not be willing to pay a little more or shift some jobs to keep the very lungs of our planet intact? In this age of environmental degradation, we must become more forward thinking.
With a little education and effort, we can all create positive change. The more people around the world make the switch to reusable utensils, the more impact we can create and the faster this battle can be won. Make the vow today to stop using disposable utensils and join the movement to save our planet from deforestation.
Brittany Lyons aspires to be a psychology professor, but decided to take some time off from attending one of the top online PhD programs to help people learn to navigate the academic lifestyle. She currently lives in Spokane, Washington, where she spends her time reading science fiction and walking her dog.