Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Travel Gear Highlight: Sporks and Chopsticks

I've written briefly about the environmental responsibility that travelers have in 11 Usable Tips for Greener Travel. Today I'd like to continue that thought as I focus on two items that I've carried on my travels for the last couple years which have reduced my waste along the way. When I visit a restaurant that offers plastic silverware or wooden chopsticks I decline those and pull out my own. Sometimes I get some funny looks or people who insist I need a fork, but I persist because it's the right thing to do.

I purchased a Titanium spork a few years back since I figured that if someone went to the trouble to manufacture sporks out of Titanium then I should probably own one. At this point I will admit to owning a spork collection that is much larger than a spork collection that most people would care to admit to owning.

For the uninitiated a spork is a spoon/fork hybrid with the tines of a fork and the bowl of a spoon. The spork is one of those utensils that doesn't do any one thing particularly well, but rather it does two things poorly with a great amount of flare. The spork should not be confused with the foon (fork/spoon) or the sporf (spoon/fork/knife). I am fairly certain that there is a special hell for the users of foons.

NOTE: The rivalry between fans of sporks and foons runs very deeply for reasons that no one is quite sure about.

At any rate, my Titanium spork was acquired at REI and it has proven useful on many occasions. At first I found it handy when I forgot to pick up a fork at a takeout place, but more and more I've been actively avoiding plastic forks in favor of this reusable and sturdy multi-utensil.

Last year when I was in Taiwan I had one of my first meals at a food stall in an alley. While I was there a group of schoolgirls come in to eat lunch. One of these girls pulled out a small plastic case, and she proceeded to assemble a set of full length chopsticks. I had never seen anything like this before, and at that moment I knew I what kind of souvenir I was bringing back home with me.

After visiting a couple shops in Taipei I found my prize. These simple chopsticks are really cool, and they screw together at the midpoint like a pool cue. While shopping for these I also found a model of chopsticks that telescoped out from an impossibly small length. I figured these would be difficult to clean so I opted for a slightly easier to clean style.

The pair that I ended up with has traveled with me ever since. The case is worn and it's now held together with electrical tape but I've grown to love the set as part of my regular travel gear.

I know it's just a fork here and a pair of chopsticks there, but every little bit counts in what we can keep out of the landfills. Together the travelers of the world can make a difference.

Do you carry any utensils with you on your travels?

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  1. Neat! I never would have thought of bringing along a set of silverware.

  2. These are the most important utensil you need when you travel and of course, I do have those. Very convenient and easy to carry.

  3. I think like many in saying that this dish is delicious food!

  4. Nice! I just posted about sporks too. Please check it out