Convenience Worth the Cost to the Environment?||
Yoko Hatano, a student in Japan was so concerned about the impact of disposable
chopsticks on the environment that she helped launch a campaign to encourage her
fellow students to carry their own re-usable chopsticks.
She wrote this
essay describing the project for her English class.
Is convenience important in our life? Even if convenience means we harm our
is easier because of convenience products. We use a car even to go to a place
We want to make our lives more comfortable. When we are hot, we
use air conditioning. When we are hungry, we just go to a convenience store.
chopsticks provide convenience and comfort.
They are convenient because
they are used just once, so there is no need to wash them.
comfort, because at a restaurant, you can use new chopsticks.
we throw away too many chopsticks every year at the cost of a lot of trees. Portable
chopsticks are a better option.
wooden chopsticks destroy trees|
In 1998, two hundred and forty-five billion disposable chopsticks were consumed
in Japan, according to research by Tokyo University.
That means each person
in Japan used two hundred disposable chopsticks a year at the cost of two million
and four hundred and ten thousand trees.
If you were to stack all the discarded
chopsticks the pile would be three times as high as Mt. Fuji.
chopsticks not only destroy trees, they damage the environment of other plants
as well, creating a vicious circle.
vicious circle of poverty|
Ninety four percent of all the disposable chopsticks Japanese people use are
imported from China.
Many Chinese are poor. And people who are poor need
money to live, so they export their resources (in this case trees) to earn a living.
However, to save costs, instead of thinning out forests by cutting some
trees and leaving others, they cut down all the trees.
When they cut all
the trees, they destroy the environment, meaning they can't grow plants any more.
If they can't grow plants, they can't earn a living. This is where the
vicious circle starts.
portable chopstick project|
In October, during the university festival my friends and I launched the Portable
Chopsticks Project to raise awareness of the problems caused by disposable chopsticks.
Every year at the festival there are many booths offering food with disposable
chopstick. Many disposable chopsticks end up in the garbage box.
was to show portable chopsticks, give some as presents and tell about the damage
caused by disposable chopsticks. That way we could raise awareness about the environmental
problems caused by disposable chopsticks.
We wanted everyone to know the
facts and take action. If we could convince students concerned about the environment
to use portable chopsticks, we could save a lot of trees in the world.
seeds of awareness|
We know from experience that it is hard to change your lifestyle.
I went to eat out with my friend and she was upset because she said to me "I
forgot to bring my chopsticks, I will destroy the natural environment."
I told her we raised awareness with the festival project, so we did well.
have become accustomed to our convenient life, so acquiring a new custom to protect
the natural environment is not easy.
It is difficult to suddenly change
lifestyles, but we planted seeds of awareness about the impact of convenience
items on the environment.
We know, not all the seeds will bloom. However
we could grow the seeds gradually.
By Yoko Hatano - Echizen City, Japan