Bento item of the week: Make your own chopsticks kit, collapsible chopsticks

hashikit1.jpg

Bento fans give a lot of thought to the bento boxes they use. But the utensils tend to be an afterthought. To me, whether it’s chopsticks or a fork and spoon, the utensils I carry with my bento are an integral part of the whole bento eating experience.

In recent years there’s been some backlash against the use of disposable chopsticks (waribashi) in Japan. Billions of waribashi are used in Japan, most of them imported from China, and because of the way they are made they are used once and then discarded (since the wood used is quite porous, they are impossible to clean properly). With an increasing awareness of the environmental impact of disposable chopsticks, there’s a movement called myhashi (My Chopsticks), which encourages people to carry their own chopsticks to use everywhere, even at restaurants. There’s even a myhashi club people can join.

hashikit2.jpgTwo chopsticks stood out for me during my surfing this week. One is this Make Your Own Chopsticks kit from an environmental awareness group called Mottainai started by Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai (Wikipedia entry). (Mottainai basically means "it's a shame to waste".) The kit contains precut wood strips to make 5 pairs of chopsticks, sandpaper, beeswax and a polishing cloth. The photo at top shows how one could carve them with lots of skills. I doubt that someone using a utility cutter knife (as shown on the site) could do that kind of detailed carving, but just the idea of carving and polishing chopsticks that you would use every day is very appealing. You could do this on your own, selecting a straight piece of wood and assembling the supplies. It would be a great kit for say, Martha Stewart Living or someone like that to put out too, don't you think? (Let's hope someone's listening!)

  • Price: 2982 yen
  • Material: The chopstick wood is yew (ichii), which they say is relatively easy to carve.
  • Link

(Yes, it’s another Japan-only shop. But this page makes me hope they’ll extend their activities, and shop, elsewhere…)

(If you are interested in buying any of these featured Japanese bento items and you don’t have a relative or friend in Japan to help you out, try the overseas shipping services listed on this page. Note this is not an endorsement of any of these services since I have not tried them myself, but they do get positive reviews from readers.)

Chopsticks on your cell phone?

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The other chopsticks that caught my eye aren’t as romantic perhaps, but are possibly more practical. They are collapsible chopsticks that come in a little box that can double as a cell phone strap. There’s no danger of forgetting your chopsticks this way! They are available from J-List in red and black. Having a pair in your purse or backpack could come in handy…you never know.

  • Price: $28.50
  • Material: plastic and metal?
  • Weight: 150g
  • Links for the red and black models (Disclaimer: Just Bento is a J-List affiliate.)

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6 comments

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My husband uses Snow

My husband uses Snow Peak’s collapsible chopsticks. We got them last summer at a local camping store for about $20.

They are metal on top and ash on the bottom and screw apart with the bottom storing in the top for transport in their very own case. The insert said the tips are recycled from baseball bats used in Japan’s professional leagues. :)

Mine are regular sized mulberry wood chopsticks. They transport just fine when we are going to an asian restaurant around town.

link to see Snow Peak’s chopsticks follows—scroll half-way down page to see them http://www.snowpeak.com/back/cutlery/index.html

Flip Sticks

Here’s a set of folding chopsticks from a cutlery supply website for about $20, made of bamboo and stainless steel with a nylon pouch. They don’t look very comfortable to me, but clever…. http://www.cutleryshoppe.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWPROD&ProdID=7567

Great gift!

My mom got me a pair of collapsible chopsticks for Christmas (before she even knew I was in to bentos!). Looks like the snowpeak ones listed above, but half the price! http://www.sahalie.com/jump.jsp?itemType=PRODUCT&RS=1&itemID=2576&keywor...

Re: Bento item of the week: Make your own chopsticks kit, ...

I've seen actual collapsable chopsticks in a small cell phone pouch at Strapya.com, and the pouch comes in a bunch of different styles:
http://www.strapya-world.com/categories/12_60_4204.html
They're about $28, and come in may different pouches (I think the chopsticks themselves are the same in each one), and look like they fold even smaller than the ones in the article. I totally want a pair!

Re: Bento item of the week: Make your own chopsticks kit, ...

For those who carry purses or have big pockets, it's easy to find a pair of regular-sized chopsticks (or slightly smaller than usual chopsticks) on ebay that come with cases for very reasonable prices. I also found that two pairs of bento chopsticks (the tiny sort that fit into the bento lid) will fit inside the case for normal-sized chopsticks. This is perfect if your date/significant other has forgotten theirs or can't carry them.

When I researched the myhashi movement, I found some statistics saying that China uses scrap wood to make most of the waribashi (a good use for it), but the demand is so high now that factories often need to import scrap wood from the US. People in the US, most of our waribashi are made in China. Provided that all of this is true (and I haven't done much research to be certain that it is), this means that our waribashi are shipped from the US to China, then back to the US. I think this is a great reason to carry one's own chopsticks!

Re: Bento item of the week: Make your own chopsticks kit, ...

I purchased my own set of collapsible chopsticks from ThinkGeek.com. They are the same kind as the Snow Peak ones. Stainless steel upper with the recycled Ash tips. I thoroughly enjoy them.

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