Chopsticks have been used for over 5000 years and are an important part of many Asian cultures. They also signify sustenance, history, the sacred (special ones are used in religious ceremonies) and the mundane. For Asian Americans, they represent the strengths of our ancestors and our cultural inheritance.

While also being a pan-Asian icon in modern consumerist society, waribashi, disposable chopsticks, pose a great problem to our environment through deforestation and destruction of forest habitats. Every year, throughout the world, hundreds of billions of disposable chopsticks are thrown away after a single-use.

The Waribashi Project: San Francisco (WPSF) is an environmental art by Berkeley artist Donna Keiko Ozawa to examine the disposable chopstick as an artistic, cultural and environmental subject.

During 2005, thanks to funding from the Columbia Foundation and the LEF Foundation, and with the help of restaurants in the San Francisco Japantown area, The Waribashi Project collected over 180,000 used disposable chopsticks, or waribashi. Ozawa put the soiled chopsticks in a dish sanitizer and air dried them at the JCCCNC. From the reclaimed waribashi, Ozawa created new sculptures and installations for an exhibition of work in September-October 2005. The Project had several free public events, including hands-on art and science workshops, artist talks, receptions and a work-in-progress demonstration highlighted as a primary exhibit of United Nations World Environment Day 2005 conference sponsored by the City of San Francisco. A full color catalog of the project and original photographs are available for purchase. For more info, go to the Store.

Copyright 2005 Donna Keiko Ozawa

© 2005 Donna Keiko Ozawa 1/8/2006