Flying With a Spork


I recently boarded a flight with a spork in my carry-on luggage without the intention of using it on board.  My in-flight meal of a fruit platter arrived and I returned the package of plastic-wrapped plastic cutlery to a flight attendant for recycling, instead reaching into my bag for my spork to consume my fruit. I thought if every passenger onboard all commercial flights with meal services did not use the plastic cutlery supplied with the in-flight meal, the world could save a huge amount of oil, essentially wasted to produce a non-essential commodity.  How much oil could be saved piqued my curiosity.  Assuming there an average occupancy of 200 passengers per flight and assuming about fifty grams of plastic is used to make a set of airline in-flight plastic cutlery, 50 grams of plastic multiplied by 200 passengers each consuming one meal each is 10,000 grams of plastic, or 10 kilograms (about 20 pounds) of plastic consumed; not counting the more plastic used in the beverage cups.  In comparison, my fully packed backpack for this journey only weighs around 16 kilograms.  10 kilograms is a good-sized, large chunk of plastic!   About how many barrels of petroleum could be saved in an entire day if everyone flying brought a spork instead? If there are about 98,000 commercial flights operating (according to this link) in one day, and each flight uses an average of 10 kilograms of plastic cutlery each, that’s 980,000 kilograms, or 980 tons of plastic cutlery used in a single day.  A barrel of oil is precisely 158.9873 liters, and assuming a one-to-one ratio of oil to plastic production (this is a high estimate, likely more than one gram of oil is needed to produce one gram of plastic because of energy consumption), about 6,000 barrels of oil could be saved.  A simple but small act added up could save our environment, please help preserve our planet’s natural resources for our coming generations and fly with a spork!

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3 Responses to Flying With a Spork

  1. Yue Jiang says:

    What a great idea!

  2. J says:

    Rob, your idea is great, but there are many many downsides to it. First of all, people are always looking for convenience, and without plastic utensils, I would have to eat with my fingers, since I could never remember to pack my own fork on flights…secondly, I won’t be the only one objecting this proposal, it’ll never pass as a law or a custom. Also, think about this……what would stop the oil companies from pumping oil from the fields? You talk about saving oil, I don’t see that happening. Human beings are a disease, a virus, we go to a place and we multiply until every natural resource available is consumed. Oil pumping and using will only be stopped when there is none left.

  3. Dan says:

    Don’t listen to J. Very pessimistic.

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