On a global scale, we collectively consume a staggering number of chopsticks each year—80 billion pairs to be exact—many of which end up discarded in landfills and other waste sites. Since 2016, though, a Vancouver-based company has been upcycling the disposable utensils into a modern, minimal line of furniture and home goods.
A new video from Business Insider goes behind-the-scenes with ChopValue to chronicle the entire production process, which starts with collecting the free, raw material from about 300 restaurants around the British Columbian city. When they’re brought back to the plant, the utensils are sorted, coated in a water-based resin, and baked in a 200-degree oven for five hours to kill all germs. They’re then broken down and loaded into a massive hydraulic machine that compresses the individual sticks into a composite board, which finally is sanded and fashioned into countertops, tiles, and dominos, among a variety of other products. Since its inception, the company has saved nearly 33 million pairs of chopsticks from entering a landfill.
With three microfactories in Canada and retailers across North America, ChopValue’s footprint is growing, and the company is currently offering opportunities for franchises. Shop coasters, shelving, and other goods on the site, and follow product launches on Twitter and Instagram. (via The Kids Should See This)
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Yuki Tatsumi was working as a waiter in a restaurant when one day, as he was cleaning up a table, he noticed that a customer had intricately folded up the paper chopstick sleeve and left it behind. Japan doesn’t have a culture of tipping but Tatsumi imagined that this was a discreet, subconscious method of showing appreciation. He began paying attention and sure enough noticed that other customers were doing the same thing. Tatsumi began collecting these “tips” which eventually led to his art project: Japanese Tip.
Since 2012, Tatsumi has not only been collecting his own tips but he’s reached out to restaurants and eateries all across Japan communicating his concept and asking them to send him their tips. The response has been enormous. He’s collected over 13,000 paper sculptures that range from obscure and ugly to intricate and elaborate.
Earlier this month, Tatsumi staged an exhibition in Tokyo where he displayed 8,000 of some of the most interesting sculptures sourced from all 47 prefectures around Japan. “Japanese Tip is a project between restaurants and customers,” says Tatsumi, “to communicate the ‘appreciation for food’ and ‘appreciation of the service’ by using the most common material used at any Japanese restaurant.”
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“As every Japanese has realized, the waves can take away a great deal from us,” says artist Tomomi Kamoshita. But it is also true that we greatly benefit from it.” Using broken pieces of ceramics that she picked up on the shore, and combining it with pieces of her own broken ceramics, the Tokyo-based potter uses the ancient kintsugi method of repairing ceramics to turn the shards into one-of-a-kind chopstick rests.
If the broken pieces of ceramics could talk, some would tell you that they fell off a ship. Others would tell you they were swept away by a tsunami. Some might even simply have been thrown away. But rather than focus on their tragic state of being, and how they got that way, Kamoshita looks to the future; the revival. “I wanted to revive what wave have brought us,” she says. In fact, many of the shards have been polished by the waves and sand while all the while retaining their beautiful colors.
As a potter, Kamoshita was skilled in the ancient craft of kintsugi: “a Japanese traditional repairing technique used to connect broken pieces together with gold.” Using this method – intended to accentuate the cracks rather than hide them – the artist pieces together the broken ceramics she’s collected. The pink pieces, she explains, are her own broken ceramics, which she likens to the cherry blossoms that come back to life every Spring.
Kamoshita received honorable mention in the 2016 Ronin | Globus Artist-in-Residence Program, for which Spoon & Tamago [Colossal’s sister site] was a judge. The ceramic pieces will be on display in the group exhibition “Contemporary Talents of Japan” from June 23 to July 30, 2016 at the Ronin Gallery in New York. (Syndicated from Spoon & Tamago)
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Highlights below. For the full collection click here.