Save the forests! Stuff chopsticks in your bra

The "My Chopsticks Bra" aims to cure Japan of its addiction to disposable utensils

Topics: Environment, Globalization, How the World Works,

In a wanton display of unsustainable cutlery irresponsibility, the Japanese reportedly throw out 25 billion pairs of disposable chopsticks every year. That’s two hundred pairs for every man, woman, and child in the country. Even worse, most of those chopsticks are cheap Chinese imports, where entire forests of birch and poplar are consumed in the maw of mass chopstick production. China produces around 45 billion or so pairs a year, equivalent to 25 million trees.

It wasn’t always this way. The disposable chopstick phenomenon didn’t take off in either China or Japan until the 1980s. In China, one theory ties the rise of the disposable chopstick to the emergence of the open economy ushered in by Deng Xiaoping.

Market reform meant economic success in the city, which in turn led to people earning more and eating out more in restaurants, hence the pressure for more disposable chopsticks.

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Some hip youngsters now carry around their own reusable chopsticks packed away in slender pouches. But so far, only meager dents have been made in the public consciousness. But maybe that’s about to change. Pink Tentacle brings us the news that an eco-conscious Japanese lingerie maker has decided to fight back against the disposable society with a contraption called the “My Chopsticks Bra.”

Victoria’s Secret, it is not. One cup is in the shape of a bowl of rice, the other, a bowl of miso, and on both sides, a small pouch is sewn on the side just big enough to hold a collapsible pair of chopsticks. According to the company, Triumph Lingerie, the device isn’t just a consciousness-raising exercise; it’s also functional:

The Chopstick bra has benefits beyond protecting the planet — the chopsticks encased in both sides of the bra will push up breasts and “gently accentuate cleavage,” the company said.

And yes, of course, there’s video. How the World Works debated with itself whether we would be giving in, once again, to cheap sensationalism if we embedded a Youtube video of an ITN “news” report showing a Japanese model demonstrating her “My Chopsticks Bra.” Maybe just the URL would be more respectful? But we asked Broadsheet, and they said it was O.K. So here you go:

Andrew Leonard
Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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