In the café where I work, somebody tried introducing pasta, spaghetti in particular, in place of purpose-made wooden sticks, for stirring hot drinks, as it was thought to be more "environmentally friendly".

A number of other people recommend the same technique:

Each year, Americans throw away 138 billion straws and stirrers. But skipping the stirrer doesn’t mean drinking your coffee black. Simply put your sugar and cream in first, and then pour in the coffee, and it should be well mixed. Determined to stir? Break off a piece of pasta from the cupboard! You can nibble after using it, compost, or throw away with less guilt.

I was told it's more environmentally friendly* than using wooden stirring sticks, and I believe it. I haven't really run the numbers though. I don't know where to get the numbers.

Which of plastic, wood and pasta is more environmentally friendly?

For the purposes of discussion, take "environmentally friendly" to mean less air, water and land pollution, as a by-product of both production and disposal. Air pollution can be taken to include carbon emissions.

Additional note: this is expressly about aspects of the service industry, where the re-use of regular spoons doesn't meet hygiene standards and stirring implements are necessarily disposable. Somebody else added the "grab it from your cupboard" excerpt in order to demonstrate notability criteria for this site.

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    I note the term "environmentally friendly" is rather broad. Are we trying to minimise the energy consumed? the carbon footprint? pesticide use? landfill use? rubbish floating in the ocean? – Oddthinking Sep 15 '14 at 13:59
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    The grains necessary to produce a pasta noodle will grow in a few months. The tree necessary for a wooden stirrer takes a few years. The oil for a plastic straw takes millennia. I'm sure that's where the claim originates. On the surface, at least, the pasta appears to be more "sustainable." But I have no idea how much petroleum is used to create an average wooden coffee stirrer or pasta noodle. And as Oddthinking points out, "environmentally friendly" is broad, and can have conflicting meanings. – Flimzy Sep 15 '14 at 14:10
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    The figures work out at a little over one per day for every man, woman and child, but what are the relative figures for stirrers versus straws? Do these sites also recommend drinking your coke through macaroni? – Ken Y-N Sep 15 '14 at 14:39
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    Since the quote advocates grabbing pasta "from the cupboard", I assume you're at home when this choice is made. Am I the only one who just uses a spoon while at home? – Is Begot Sep 15 '14 at 16:18
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    Holy ****. Just wait while I patent something called a 'reusable spoon'. – DJClayworth Sep 15 '14 at 20:01

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