What is the environmental degradation of a birch wood toothpick?

Including the transportation costs, and cost of reclamation, and of the like. Thank you in advance.



  1. 0 Votes

    Yer prolly not going to believe there’s a whole sucking book on this subject, but have a gander at the first reference, which is in Google Books. (Ok, ok, they stole a lot of intellectual property, but now they’ve cleaned up their act. Supposedly.)

    According to the source, all kinds of dubious stories are told about toothpicks. You probably didn’t know that wood is great for toothpick material, because it has bacteria-killing organisms. Ah-ha! Many trees have been used for toothpicks, including … birch! But birch has not been the favorite, over history. It was with the advent of Charles Foster’s machine in the late 19th century that popularized birch … because it was cheap and strong. (No doubt a big consideration for those using 40 a day.)

    According to Alibaba, seven machines are used in making toothpicks. The machines cost about $10K USD. So that’s part of the answer to your question. That’s $10K of environmental damage, right there.

    Toothpicks, at least as of 1973, were considered “specialty products” and the production figures — presumably small — were not kept.

    Answerbag, claiming that Lisa Fine is a “professional researcher”, I guess, states without explanation or citation that a cord of wood makes 7.5 million toothpicks.

    I won’t add anything to the personal comments I’ve heard about Lisa (because, actually I’ve never heard any), but according to http://www.stealingfaith.com/tag/toothpicks/ the whole entire USA only consumes 22 million in a year.

    I.e., interesting question that cost me, a non-professional researcher, 1/2 hour to answer, but the total US consumption is 3 bloody cords of wood.

    My advice here, as on so many environmental questions is: Move along folks, there’s nothing here to look at. There’s no cost that’s worth worrying about. The question was good, but the answer is to set your ecologically-inclined mind searching elsewhere for interesting places to analyze and optimize. 

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