Living plastic free: Pens
Pens are prolific in EnviroWoman’s life. I have so many pens I don’t even need to buy refills. When a pen dries up…it’s retired to the pen-stash-drawer, and I move on to the next one. This drawer, I am ashamed to confess holds 89 pens.
Yes, 89. Stupid, isn’t it? My own dirty little secret. I mean really, what family needs that many pens? Not one. It’s a fine example of excess consumption. And what’s even worse, at least ½ are single-use-pens, intended to be thrown out after they dry up and added to the 10 billion non-degradable plastic pens tossed to the landfills each year worldwide.
And of all my 89 pens, only 4 make it through the golden-gates of no-new-plastic land. Yes, only 4. That's less than 5% of my stash. Of these:
- Three are all-metal Cross pens bestowed upon EnviroWoman by appreciative CEOs and TheWorldsBestMom. They’re the pen equivalent of ‘good china’, always stowed away in their posh boxes, never seeing the light of day because they seem ‘too expensive’ for everyday use.
- The fourth, is a completely compostable corn-based pen made of GoodWitchoftheNorthBioplastic… which Vancity gave EnviroWoman when she won the ViaLaResolution contest. This one is intended to be composted after its gone dry.
The rest of my pen horde, all made of plastic…are doomed victims of TheUrgeToPurge – either packed away or given away.
So now EnviroWoman uses her ‘good china’ pens for everyday use. And she’s noticed something. When you use an expensive pen you get a bit paranoid about abusing it. And losing it. You hang onto it as if your nimble digits have morphed into raptor-talons. You treat it differently…because who wants to lose a $70 pen? And you know…that’s probably a really good thing.
Let’s face it….cheapo pens are less precious. We don’t guard them with raptor-talons. No, if they go wayward, no big deal…just dip into the pen-stash drawer for another. Or, throw them away, like we’re supposed to.
EnviroWoman wondered, could she limit herself for the rest of the year, or better yet...for life, to these 4 pens? Well...almost. But the fact is....she needs two for work, two for home, one for the car, and one for the purse.
And so EnviroWoman found herself needing to buy pens, for the first time in a long time.
It wasn’t as easy as she thought it would be.
She found only one all-metal pen (including the cartridge)…The Space Pen favored by astronauts and meat packers (you’re MensaMaterial if you can figure out the meat packer thing…go ahead – give it a guess). It writes in zero gravity, underwater, on wet surfaces, in blazing heat and freezing cold and at any angle. Alas, the Space Pen is packaged in plastic, as is the refill.
And that’s the trouble in pen land…almost every pen has a small amount of plastic in the cartridge (even the 3 Cross pens from EnviroWoman’s pen-stash-drawer), or the pen or refill comes packaged in plastic. Other than using a pencil, there doesn’t seem to be a way around it. And you know and I both know, you can’t sign cheques, invoices and contracts with a pencil.
EnviroWoman went a-hunting…in big box stores, in stationery boutiques and art stores, and finally to a specialty pen shop. She settled on:
- a $6 St. Tropez Petites by Marvy…a teeny little pen perfect for the car and her purse…no packaging whatsoever and just a small amount of plastic in the cartridge and the stylus
- a zowie yellow $48 Tornado by Retro 1951 (comes in a cardboard box, with an all metal tube case…perfect for stashing the pen in my purse along with my prismacolor pencil crayons and china markers that have replaced my highlighters, yipee)
This means, that although EnviroWoman has to commit a MINOR SIN when buying a pen (‘cuz they have those niggly lit bits of plastic in the cartridge), she’s probably going to have to commit a MAJOR SIN when she has to buy a refill (because they are packaged in plastic). But, she’ll cross that bridge when she needs to.
But the whole exercise of purging the pen stash drawer and using her ‘good china’ pens has made EnviroWoman gain a whole new appreciation for pens. There was even a mind-shift from ‘throwaway’ to ‘use for a lifetime’. So here’s how things add up:
SAINT: Some, but not all of pens offered by: Cross, Sheaffer, Triad, Olympian, Sigma, Waterman, Blass, Parker
Price: Way more expensive, but hey, you're worth it. So is the planet
Quality: Ink, the same. The pen body, the same to better
SINNER: Any of the cheapos by Bic, Sheaffer, Paper mate, Sanford, Pilot (EnviroWoman used to luv, luv, luv their Precise Rollerballs), Zebras, Pentel, etc. Especially those designed for single-use (can't buy a refill)
- Plastic stuff equals cheap stuff which equals disposable stuff which equals no appreciation for stuff. And voila, we end up with a throw-away society. With too much consumption. And too much garbage. And a disposable mentality. And herein lies one of the big problems with our society. You know if we had to pay more for stuff, we’d be more frugal…and careful. And use less of MotherNature. (There EnviroWoman goes again folks….waxing philosophically from her soapbox)
If you know of any other ‘no-plastic’ pens, especially those that are ‘true-blues’ with ABSOLUTLEY no plastic in the cartridge, the refill or in any packaging, please let EnviroWoman and the rest of us know.