[Review] Is Smile Shelf Worth It?

There’s a trend of using environmentally-friendly furniture and accessories to decorate our homes with right now. And in a sea of green-decorating options, SMILE does seem like a unique option.

It stands for Shelving Module Inspired Living Environment, and is made from an astounding 4276 chopsticks.

Today we’ll do a deep dive into the SMILE’s Kickstarter campaign and give you all the information you need to make a more informed purchasing decision. 

The Crowdfunding Campaign

One of the things that really stands out as a selling-point for the SMILE shelving system is that the creator says their goal is to “recycle and manufacture” them locally to reduce the carbon footprint used to make and deliver them.

That’s an excellent idea that would absolutely be an eco-conscious option. The problem is that they don’t actually practice it.

The company itself is located in Canada, but in the comments the creator says that the manufacturing and shipping facility is in China.

Eventually the company wants to have bunches of micro-factories set up all over the world so that they can be made and distributed on a local scale, but that’s not what they have now.

Even if the actual recycling process took place in Canada, it’s then shipped to China and THEN shipped to customers. The extra shipping step may save them, and their customers, some money by using the facility in China, but it isn’t any more environmentally conscious, and it definitely isn’t local. 

Our Analysis and Review

Essentially, the shelves are made by turning the chopsticks into pressed wood.

Other types of pressed wood are compiled of wood sawdust, chips and other scraps that have been pressed together either with heat or adhesives. This is the process to make SMILE described on their FAQ page, as well.

But the problem is that pressed wood just isn’t strong. It’s actually really easy to break. And every time you move it, you shorten its lifespan. It really doesn’t matter that it’s pressed bamboo, either. Pressed bamboo isn’t as durable as whole bamboo. 

The Potential Shortcomings

The chopsticks aren’t cleaned in any conventional sense. Any food or debris that’s left on them after they’ve been on the shaker table is simply picked off or otherwise hand-removed.

Why don’t they at least use soap and water? They say the chemicals and water would add to the “energy and waste streams”. The boards are sanitized with heat.

But who cares if bacteria is removed temporarily if dirt or food particles are still there, creating a haven for bacterial growth? It’s also just really unnerving and gross. The average consumer would probably assume that the recycled chopsticks were at leased washed. 

Wrap Up

So, is the SMILE shelving system worth it? I personally don’t think so. The fact that it’s going to be weakened by moving it just doesn’t sit well with me and makes me wonder how strong it actually is.

And the fact that the chopsticks aren’t even cleaned is a major turn-off. If you actually want to do something about the fact that chopsticks aren’t always recycled the right way, check these reusable ones out via the button below.