This week’s topic is one that has been bothering me pretty much since I started writing this blog. Can you recycle a pen? Can you buy eco-friendly pens? Should you even stop using pens altogether?
Pens are made of a lot of different components, including plastic, metal and ink. Because there as so many different bits, it’s currently very difficult to recycle them. You could take them all apart and try to recycle all the bits separately, but I’m not sure how many of the pieces would actually be able to make it through the recycling process. With this, I think that the best way to go is to contact your local recycling facility. If you can find out the type of plastic the main part of your pen is then you might be able to recycle that too.
But there aren’t any nationwide programmes to recycle pens. Unless you’re willing to use the components to make other things, or to create pen artwork (it’s true, some people do it!), then I feel a little stumped. Pens are everywhere…school, work, you get given them free wherever you go, and they seem to breed at home. Plus I used to love buying new stationary so I bought a lot for myself too, which are now lying around, half-used.
I think for this topic my main pointers are:
- Try not to pick up new pens, whether they’re freebies, handed to you at work or staring temptingly at you from a shop shelf.
- Use the pens you already have. I think that if you’ve already got something, it’s even more of a waste to throw it away without using it. So stick to using the pens you have at home – this could save you money too! I took a pen I got in a Christmas cracker to work the other day, instead of getting a new one from the stationary cupboard.
- Use pens that allow you to replace the ink component or ink cartridge (such as a fountain pen). Although this is still generating waste, I think that this is less than it would be if you bought a whole new pen.
- If you do need to buy a new one, find one made from recycled materials. Although it’s unlikely you’ll be able to find a pen made from recycled pens, this option is better than buying one made from brand new materials. A lot of websites sell pens made from recycled materials (such as Nigel’s Eco Store and Eco-Gifts, to arbitrarily name a couple). The charity WWF also sells pens and pencils made from recycled materials.
What do you think? Do you do a lot of writing by hand? Or maybe you’ve gone completely digital and have no use for pens any more? I’ve love to hear if you’ve thought of any solutions!