In Japan, throw-away chopsticks made of wood are very common, just like the plastic bags that are given to customers at grocery stores. I think this is a very bad custom. It may be much worse than grocery bags for not just the wood that is used, but also they usually come in paper enclosure. Last year, I was given throw away chopsticks when I asked for a Japanese meal in an international airplane flight, although knife, spoon, and fork were made of metal and obviously they reuse them. I do not understand why only chopsticks are throw-aways. I am happy to see that most of the restaurants I’ve been in other parts of Asia had reusable chopsticks. I hear a lot about Japan being one of the most environmentally conscious nation and from what I have seen of other countries, it may be true. Unfortunately, where it comes to chopsticks, I think Japan is the worst.
Last year on 23 Jan., I started to bring my own chopsticks to restaurants . Now it has been a year, here I am reporting of my result.
In 2008, from Jan. 23 to Dec. 31, I saved 237 sets of throw-away chopsticks in Japanese restaurants and in airplane flights. In 22 days of this month, I've saved 17 sets. That means 254 sets in a whole year! My prediction of 260 per year was very close to exact! I am also happy that some people that saw me doing it started it, too. I will continue with this activity.
Also, I've been trying to bring my grocery bags whenever possible. Some of the grocery stores now give "points" for not using plastic bags.
Other things I do whenever practical are: (1) use stairs instead of lifts , (2) walk of bike instead of driving, (3) bring my own bottle of water at outing instead buying it, (4) set thermostat high in summer (28 deg. C) and low in winter (20 deg. C) during the day, (5) recycle pet bottles, cans, and paper, (6) use the back side of printed paper instead of each time using new sheet, (7) turn off un-necessary lights.
I am sure there are much more that can be done and of course, it is easy to slack-off with these activities over comfort and laziness. I believe each of us must be conscious about 3Rs (reduce, reuse, and recycle) to save our environment!