PRODUCT Portable chopsticks with case

PRODUCT RATING Very Good. These single-piece, portable chopsticks by muji require no assembly. The chopsticks and case are easy to clean. However, some may have difficulty adjusting to slightly shorter length. Like most of muji’s products, they are relatively high quality and well designed. Made of plastic.

GREEN RATING Light Green. Single-use, disposable chopsticks are a huge problem adding to the plague of regional deforestation. If you use disposable chopsticks while eating lunch at your desk or at sushi restaurants, try bringing a pair of your own. In addition to deforestation, there are also other health and environmental issues associated with using and disposing of single-use chopsticks.

AVAILABLE AT muji. You can also find other portable chopsticks in stores throughout Hong Kong.

Do you use disposable chopsticks to eat lunch at your desk? Or enjoy sushi at places that provide disposable chopsticks? You may want to consider bringing your own for the sake of the planet and your own health. According to the NY Times:

Each year, the equivalent of 3.8 million trees go into the manufacture of about 57 billion disposable pairs of chopsticks in China, according to statistics from that nation’s national forest bureau. About 45 percent of disposable chopsticks are made from trees like cotton wood, birch, and spruce, while the remainder are made from bamboo.

Due to lax enforcement of productions standards in China, disposable chopsticks also pose other risks for consumers and the environment:

Industrial-grade sulfur, paraffin, hydrogen peroxide and insect repellent are among the harmful chemicals that Chinese media investigations have exposed during production. Paraffin is a known carcinogen, and hydrogen peroxide can harm the digestive system. Chopsticks irresponsibly disposed of can contaminate water and soil quality.

While there are other designs for portable chopsticks, we highly recommend the single-piece design from muji. With many other designs, each chopstick is comprised of two-pieces that either screw together or have a spring-loaded pin that allows them to snap together. This allows for standard length chopsticks in a portable package, but these design carry some drawbacks. First, the two-piece chopsticks may wiggle and feel loose at the joint making using them unsatisfying. Second, the more complex designs mean the chopsticks and more importantly the case that holds them are harder to clean.

The single-piece design maintains compactness by shortening the length of the chopsticks. This may take some getting use to for some users. The great thing about the single-piece design is that it eliminates all the nooks and crannies, from both the chopstick and the case, for food to get stuck in. More importantly you don’t have to fiddle around to assemble chopsticks when having lunch with others. These minimalist chopsticks are discrete and elegant. After use, they can be easily rinsed in a glass  of water and wiped with a napkin before putting them back in your bag. (Of course we recommend washing them before the next use)