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Coffee Stir Sticks

By Miroslav B. Bonchev
I like to have a cup of coffee in the morning and another after lunch. I like it with a bit of sugar, so naturally I use something to stir it. In your average coffee shop, this tends to be a wooden stir stick. Sometimes I would grab more stir sticks than needed - "just in case". A few days ago I had an insight. I was playing with my stir stick and I notice that it is very strong. This made me think about it, and I realized that the depth of a stir stick is approximately the same as that of a matchstick and its total size is that of about 25 matchsticks. My next thought shocked me - for the two cups of coffee I have every day I use as much timber as if I burn a whole safety match with its 50 sticks in it. Cup of Coffee
Coffee Stir Stick I could not find information about the world’s production of wooden stir sticks, but based on the data for production of safety matches and some elementary mathematics, I could deduce that the numbers are staggering. The world produces and uses so many safety matches every second that a large timber tree is burned every five seconds. The problem is that one uses the same amount of timber as if they burn a whole match every day by just drinking two cups of coffee, if they use wooden stir sticks.
What is the alternative? Well, one alternative is to carry your own teaspoon with you all the time, which I think is very considerate but probably pretty unlikely. More coffee shops could offer actual cutlery when serving coffee; they already have to wash cups and plates, so a few spoons extra should not make much difference. Using a plastic straw is another alternative. As it turns out, using a plastic straw to drink coffee can also help to protect your teeth and keep them white. Finally, not using sugar at all is perhaps the best option!
Miroslav B. Bonchev
July 2008
London, England
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