Usually when one hears about rates of global deforestation, you get stats such as “Amazonian rain forests are being decimated at a rate of 2.4 acres per second.” But recently I’m hearing more about the amount of forest being razed to create disposable / one-time-use chopsticks throughout Asia:
China now produces and discards more than 45 billion pairs of disposable chopsticks every year, cutting down as many as 25 million trees in the process, according to government statistics. Another 15 billion pairs are exported to Japan, South Korea and other countries. At the current rate of timber use, environmentalists warn, China will consume its remaining forests in about a decade.
And despite China’s great land mass, they’re importing 60 million cubic meters of timber yearly to meet demand. To make matters worse, the Chinese government actively encouraged disposable chopstick use for years to inhibit communicable disease. There is a nascent environmental movement in China which encourages people to carry their own non-disposable chopsticks, but I’ve heard from Chinese environmentalists that environmentalism in China gets even more strange looks than it does in the U.S.
So… what happens in a decade, when all of China’s forests are gone?