Five Ways to Reuse Chopsticks: Recycle This!

At first, “disposable” chopsticks that come with Chinese takeout or sushi may appear wasteful, and the matter has actually become a hot topic in China recently. But many pairs are made from ultra-renewable fast-growing bamboo, and others are made from other fast-growing woods like birch. However, there’s some debate as to how safe it is to reuse wooden chopsticks as eating utensils (especially if they’ve been used to handle raw fish), and even for avid re-users, there is such a thing as having too many pairs of chopsticks. What else can be done with them? Mr. Miyagi might suggest catching flies, but here are some other ideas:

Garden stakes: Use chopsticks to support seedlings and other smaller plants. Just stick one in the dirt next to a floppy plant, then gently tie the plant to the new stake.

Training sticks: Make a spring-loaded starter set of chopsticks for the kiddos. Directions here.

Hair sticks: To keep long hair off your neck in the summer, twist your hair up into a roll and zigzag a chopstick in and out of it. You can decorate a few different sticks for this purpose; just don’t use anything that will stick in your hair—try dyeing the sticks.

Stirring it up: Use chopsticks to stir coffee or tea (and extract that tea bag), and stir small containers of paint. For people in more humid climates, they can also be used to loosen up caked-up powdered spices in their jars—the small girth of chopsticks usually fits in through the pouring openings.

Building: Art and design students can use chopsticks for their models. Younger kids can use them in dioramas for school. (Abe Lincoln’s log cabin, perhaps?)