Should you reuse chopsticks, even if they're disposable? Throwing them straight in the trash seem like such a waste, but is it safe to rescue them. Read on to learn how to reuse and clean disposable chopsticks.
Chopsticks, like the kind you might get with a takeout order, are often made from wood or bamboo and require a lot of resources to make, especially if they also come wrapped in plastic or paper. Reusing them is a good way to lessen the environmental impact these would have if simply thrown away. It can be tempting to toss disposable chopsticks after one use. It is not often talked about how these chopsticks are made or how to clean them, or if they are safe to reuse.
Is it Safe to Reuse Chopsticks?
Wooden, disposable chopsticks, like the kind you get from a takeout order, can be reused as long as you care for them properly. When you break apart wooden chopsticks from a takeout order they have been sanitized and packaged as such, but once you use them once, they are in need of some washing and drying before you can use them again.
If the chopsticks are made from wood or bamboo, they are safe to use again. Just follow these simple instructions:
- Wash the wooden or bamboo chopsticks in warm water with soap. If they have a design painted on them, do not let them soak in warm water as it may affect the design. You can allow them to lay flat in the warm water for a minute or so, and use a sponge or bristled brush on them with soap to thoroughly clean them, and make sure to thoroughly rinse them in warm water.
- Dry them well with a cotton towel, and let them finish air-drying completely.
- Use a bit of cooking oil, such as organic olive, to oil the chopsticks from time to time if they are plain wood or bamboo. Experts recommend every 3-6 months depending on how often you use them.
If the chopsticks are made from metal:
- Check the packaging to make sure the chopsticks are dishwasher-safe. If they are, place them on the top rack of the dishwasher lying flat.
- Run the dishwasher as normal with warm water and soap. You may want to try out our all-natural homemade dishwasher detergent.
- Let them completely dry before reuse.
- Store with other cutlery and wash as needed.
Other Ways to Upcycle or Reuse Chopsticks
If you are looking to reuse or upcycle chopsticks here are some examples of ways to do so. Use chopsticks with:
- planting – they make good stakes to keep plants upright while growing, such as tomatoes
- drinks – you can use them to stir drinks, just remember to wash them as above before each use
- popsicles – make your own popsicles and use the chopsticks for the stick
- stir food – instead of a wooden spoon, use chopsticks to stir food while cooking
- paint stirs – use them to stir paint instead of the wooden paint stirrer that often comes with paint
- crafts – chopsticks can be used in various crafts: make placemats, coasters, bird feeders, etc.
- baking – use them for dowels inside cakes or other baked items
- compost – if the chopsticks are made from wood or bamboo, they can be added to the compost pile
There are many ways to reuse chopsticks and lessen the environmental impact that they would otherwise have if simply tossed.
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