Ditch the Sticks

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Nobuko Miyamoto is a ghost lamenting the wasteful use of disposable wooden chopsticks in the music video “B.Y.O. Chopstix.” In background are rapper Aidge, right, and Danny Yamamoto.

Multicultural arts organization Great Leap announced the premiere live screening and Internet release of “B.Y.O. CHOPSTIX,” a new music video highlighting the environmental impact of disposable wooden chopsticks.

The ecological dilemma of disposable wooden chopsticks, or waribashi, was first brought to the attention of Great Leap Founder and Artistic Director Nobuko Miyamoto almost ten years ago, when she learned that over 100 billion waribashi find their way into the trash every year, consuming more than 30 million trees annually. Her response at the time was to start carrying her own chopsticks – a one-woman conservation effort which often drew laughs and, occasionally, introspection.

As the idea of pursuing a “greener” lifestyle has gained wider public acceptance, Miyamoto was pushed to ask herself: “As an artist, what else can I do about addressing our waribashi habit?” Her answer was to write a song about it, teaming up with rapper Aidge of Aesthetics Crew and veteran performance artist Dan Kwong. Together with Great Leap friends, artists and community volunteers they’ve produced a funny, yet pointed, music video, “B.Y.O. CHOPSTIX.”

Miyamoto and director/editor Kwong combined music and humor to encourage people to take action by rejecting disposable wooden chopsticks and opting to “bring your own” instead.

“The concept of mottainai, no waste, is actually a traditional part of Japanese culture,” said Miyamoto.

The video was shot at Azuma, a Japanese restaurant in Gardena. Its B.Y.O. message inspired the owners to quit using disposable chopsticks made of wood and switch to bamboo, a more renewable material.

B.Y.O. CHOPSTIX was released on YouTube on Aug. 23, with a live screening planned for Sept.11, at 7 p.m. as part of the culminating performance of Great Leap’s Collaboratory Artist Mentorship Program, presented at Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook State Park, 6300 Hetzler Road, Culver City. The performance is made possible, in part, by grants from the California Arts Council, City of Culver City Performing Arts Grant Program Fund with support from Sony Pictures Entertainment, Japanese American Community Services, Cecilia Nakamura Arts Fund, and Duane Ebata Memorial Fund.

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To view the video, visit YouTube or www.greatleap.org. Tickets for the premiere screening at $15, for more information, call (213) 250-8800.

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