Family Mart sticks a fork in forks.

Like all Japanese convenience stores, Family Mart offers an impressively wide selection. One thing you won’t be able to get there anymore, though, is plastic forks.

In recent years, there’s been a push for Japanese businesses to reduce the amount of plastic trash their operations generate. Two years ago the government began requiring stores to charge customers an additional fee for plastic shopping bags, and there’s been murmuring that plastic utensils at convenience stores and takeout restaurants are next on the list of items that’ll soon carry an additional fee.

Family Mart has decided to go get a head start, though, and go one step further while they’re at it. As of March 10, 10 Family Mart branches in Tokyo will not be offering customers plastic forks at all, and in April, barring any major problems during the test phase, the chain plans to expand the no-fork policy to all of its stores nationwide.

Japanese convenience stores don’t just sell finger foods like sandwiches and rice balls, though. They also sell all sorts of prepared meals, and in those cases, Family Mart will continue to provide bamboo chopsticks. While those are already the preferred utensil for customers buying Japanese-style bento boxed lunches, the new policy means that even Western-style dishes, like the various varieties of Italian-style pasta that are convenience store staples in Japan, will also have to be eaten with chopsticks if customers are in need of a utensil.

▼ A plate of Family Mart pasta

Family Mart will continue to offer spoons, however, for customers buying curry, ice cream, or other liquidy things which can’t really be eaten with the pincer motion of chopsticks. Sporks, though, are being lumped in with forks, though, and will also disappear from utensil options.

Reactions to the eco-friendly but inconvenient change in theconveneince store’s policies have included:

“I wish they’d either started charging for plastic forks or switched to wooden ones instead of getting rid of them altogether.”
“So now we enter the era when we eat cake with chopsticks.”
“This is going to be hard for people with disabilities who can’t grip chopsticks, or people visiting from overseas who don’t know how to use them.”
“I’m already envisioning when I can’t get a spoon when I buy pudding.”
“Just please don’t get rid of the chopsticks!”

On the plus side, Japan’s reliance on public transportation means that just about everyone carries a bag with them when they go out, and the country’s bento food culture means there’s no shortage of compact utensil sets with carrying cases sold in stores, including super affordable ones at 100 yen shops. There’s been a trend in recent years of eco-conscious consumers making sure to always have their personal pair of “my chopsticks” with them when they go out, which they take home and wash after eating their takeout and reuse next time, so maybe Family Mart’s new policy will convince some people it’s time to get themselves a “my fork” too.

Source: Teleasa News via Yahoo! Japan News via Jin, Twitter
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