Fortunately, Asian initiatives like Bring Your Own Chopsticks (BYOC) have pushed for social change with the goal of reducing the use of disposable chopsticks. Such programs have even led some provinces in China to ban the production of disposable chopsticks and heavily tax their use. Despite these victories, global demand for disposable wooden chopsticks is still on the rise.
Common to the Asian dining experience, wooden chopsticks in a paper wrapper seem an
innocuous part of dining out. Sadly, most of these chopsticks are constructed from old growth, hardwood trees, often clear cut to serve the unsustainable demand for disposable chopsticks. China alone produces as many as 80 billion pairs of wooden chopsticks annually, costing up to 20 million trees per year and leading to the deforestation of some of the world’s most pristine forests.
Chopsticks for Salamanders, an initiative of the Foundation for the Conservation of Salamanders, hopes to encourage the use of reusable chopsticks by American consumers. Asian restaurants have existed in the United States for most of its history, and continue to be popular dining options. There are over 40,000 Chinese restaurants alone in the United States, most of which provide disposable chopsticks. To encourage restaurant goers to bring their own, CFS sells dishwasher-safe, stainless steel chopsticks in a convenient carrying case. While reusable chopsticks can be purchased from other vendors, only CFS chopsticks actually help save salamanders.
All proceeds from chopstick sales go to support salamander research, conservation and education initiatives via annual grants. Chopsticks for salamanders was founded in 2011 as an initiative under the American Associations of Zookeepers (AAZK) and became an independent non-profit, the Foundation for the Conservation of Salamanders in 2015. Due to the financial support of local AAZK chapters, small businesses and individuals, FCSal annual grants amounts increased from $1,500 per year to $5,000 per year in just three grant cycles. As of July 2015, the CFS initiative has raised almost $20,000, most of it from chopsticks sales, and provided over $15,000 in grants to five research and conservation projects. CFS chopsticks can be purchased online at fcsal.org.
Other merchandise is also available from our CafePress store, including a wide selection of clothing and household items, limited edition art prints and salamander bumper stickers. Further information on how to apply for an FCSal grant can also be found on our website.
FCSal Board Secretary