A published report calculates that about 3.8 million trees in China are cut annually for the production of disposable chopsticks, contributing to the loss of China’s
regional forests. According to a report in the New York Times’ Green blog, about half of those chopsticks are used in China, 39 percent in Japan, 12 percent in South Korea, and 1 percent in the United States. Environmental activists say that wooden utensils can be phased out, and China has taken steps to discourage their use, imposing a tax on disposable chopsticks in 2007. In addition, more than 2,000 restaurants in Beijing and Guangzhou have stopped using wooden chopsticks in favor of reusables, which have a lifespan of about 130 meals. Last year, students from 200 Chinese universities built a series of “trees” using 80,000 discarded chopsticks and displayed them in a busy Beijing mall to call attention to the issue. In Japan, however, many restaurants have resisted switching to reusable chopsticks.