While the rest of us are worrying about where our takeaway coffee cups end up (and so we should), have we stopped to consider what happens to the rest of our disposable culinary accoutrements?
The city of Vancouver, where genius startup ChopValue was founded, sends a staggering 100,000 chopsticks to landfill on a daily basis.
“It should be normality to think twice if we can reuse a material or not before we throw it away,” explained Felix Böck, founder of ChopValue. “For me, it’s very normal and very natural to use a material that was previously defined as waste. I define it as resource.”
Although bamboo is one of the world’s most sustainable materials, ChopValue, which was founded last year, takes it one step further. The company cleverly rescues bamboo chopsticks that are on their way to the bin and upcycles them into very cool household items, such as wall tiles, drink coasters, and even yoga blocks. Felix and his team actually gather around 250,000 used chopsticks a week from local restaurants and have so far repurposed 1.5 million chopsticks through their innovative business model.
Felix is using his education in forestry to reimagine items destined for the dump, in an effort to introduce people to more cyclical uses for our everyday products.
“Hopefully, [we] inspire others to start projects where they take an item, typically considered waste, find value in that material, and upcycle to create another beautiful product that extends its lifetime,” he says.
“We are consuming so much material and so many products, so if we have the chance to reuse something that’s already around us, we don’t have to just dump it,” he explains. “We really see the potential of using it for another life.”