Wooden stirrers, sometimes called “wooden stirrer sticks” are gaining popularity from their plastic cousins, the plastic stirrer stick.
The reason is the environment and the move by many companies away from single use plastics. Wooden sticks are seen by many to be less harmful to the environment but this is by no means clear cut.
While few will deny the fact that plastic is a problem from a decomposition perspective and ends up in oceans where marine life is threatened, the environmental cost of a wooden stirrer is not insignificant.
So first trees need to be grown (which we think is a positive benefit) but then harvesting, manufacturing and distribution, followed by recycling , are all environmental costs.
While the wooden stirrers are capable of complete breakdown, they still need to be composted to achieve this and this is not as easy as it seems. Wooden stirrer sticks need to be collected separately from other rubbish to allow proper mixing with other rubbish and soils to allow fast and complete compositing in landfill sites. Generally they are not collected separately.
The argument for plastic is that they can be recycled and reformed which offers a lower environmental cost than for growing a tree (e.g. preparing land, cultivating the tree, logging operations, saw milling etc).
We are no experts, but the best option would be to simply use metal teaspoons that can be washed and reused thousands of times. However, as our clients all tell us, metal teaspoons appear to be attractive targets for invisible aliens who consume them straight out kitchen draws when no-one is looking.
We don’t want to start looking at the environmental cost of mining and iron ore, nor of producing stainless steel… so it seems we are no clearer on how to make stirrers available without damaging the environment.
Perhaps the answer is the coffee machine after all. Here the whipper motor in the mixer bowl is capable of mixing everything up without the need for plastic coffee stirrer sticks or wooden stirrers!