By Chaya Kurtz, Networx
We normally unwrap takeout chopsticks, eat with them and dispose of them without much thought. Recently, though, there has been a small wave of transnational activism aimed at reducing the use of disposable chopsticks stateside and in Asia; chopsticks, activists say, are contributing to heavy deforestation in China.
The approach of activist groups like Greenpeace East Asia has been to encourage individuals to carry reusable chopsticks, and the New York Times reports that many restaurants in Asia and in America are no longer popping disposable chopsticks into every takeout bag. Given that your local sushi place may not have jumped on the conservation bandwagon yet, I’d like to help you at least get an extra use out of disposable chopsticks. Here are 50 ways you can reuse those takeout chopsticks.
Uses for Disposable Chopsticks in the Kitchen
- Use them to stir while cooking.
- Use them as drink stirrers. (I found this idea on DIY Life.)
- Reuse as sticks for homemade popsicles. (This one also came from DIY Life.)
- I use one to stir the slurry when making coffee in a French Press.
- Dry plastic bags on them. Stick them in a jar and hang the bags off of them. I did this when I lived on an off-the-grid property where we were very careful about trash, and also when I lived in a cooperative house. The coop actually had a piece of wood mounted to the kitchen wall with chopsticks sticking out of it for bags to dry on. There’s green street cred right there.
- Use them to stack plates on when you run out of space in the dish drain. As in, you want to raise the dish you are drying off of the countertop.
- Level-off measured dry ingredients like flour when baking with a chopstick. My mom has done this forever. She also saves Popsicle sticks for this purpose.
- Toast marshmallows. (Idea found on This Old House.)
- Use them to clean hard-to-reach spaces. (Idea found on This Old House.)
- Pit cherries with one. (Thank you to Apartment Therapy for this one.)
- I whisk eggs with them.
- Freeze individual portions in freezer bags with the help of a chopstick. (This idea is from Lunch In a Box.)
- Use chopsticks to turn meat or tofu when grilling.
Uses for Disposable Chopsticks around the House
- Prop open a window with a couple chopsticks.
- Push viscous material out of a funnel with a chopstick.
- Place chopsticks in a jar and air dry wet mittens or socks on them. Thanks to my mother for this great idea.
- Use them to stir paint.
- Kindle your fireplace with them.
- Use them to loft frames or boards when doing painting projects. (I found this idea on Project Polermo.)
- Unclog bottle tips. (Thanks again to This Old House.)
- Clean dirt out of the crevices of shoes. (Ditto.)
- Clean up mastic when grouting tiles. (Ditto.)
- Mark potted plants with care instructions. (Only the ever-fabulous Martha Stewart could create instructions for this one.)
- Use them to clean electronic devices. (This idea came from Apartment Therapy.)
- Use chopsticks as shims for wobbly tables.
- Make a doorstop in 30 seconds. (Thanks to Curbly for this idea.)
- Make attractive stakes for potted orchids. (Martha. Who else?)
- Fill a stripped screw hole. (Idea found on This Old House.) This can also be done with toothpicks.
Crafts You Can Make with Disposable Chopsticks
- Stick them in your hair to hold up a bun.
- Build an iPad stand. (Get instructions on ReadyMade.)
- Make a place mat. (Learn how on Right at Home.)
- Make coasters. (Found on Curbly.)
- Make a retro-style clock. (MakeZine shows you how.)
- Make an Ikea-hack pendant lamp. (Full instructions on ReadyMade.)
- Play pick-up sticks. (Thanks to Planet Green for this archaic but cute idea.)
- Use them as knitting needles. (Tutorial found in the Craftster forum.)
- Make an eco-bird feeder.
- Create 4th of July “sparklers” or magic wands. (Thanks to Merriment Designs for this idea.)
- Build furniture with your used chopsticks.
- Make a DIY scented oil diffuser. (Idea found on Remodelaholic.)
- DIY a hanging sachet for your closet. (I’ll give you one guess who published this idea. It starts with an “M”.)
- If you live in San Francisco, you can donate them to the Waribashi Project to be upcycled into art.
- Make a rubber band gun. (I found this idea on Instructables.)
- Build a crossbow. (Instructions can be found on Storm the Castle.)
- Chopsticks are part of the process of making custom clay gift tags.
- Win an egg drop contest.
- Greenpeace created a forest of trees made from chopsticks. I suppose you could also sculpt with them.
- Build a stool made from a bamboo steamer and used chopsticks.
- Make a lampshade. (Thanks to How Joyful for instructions for this project.)
- Replace dowel rods in projects like mobiles with a bunch of chopsticks tied together in the middle.
Photo: Lotus Head/sxc.hu