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What I Plan to Do About My Disposable Pen Peeve Why Can’t All Those Disposable Ballpoint Pens that Are Overrunning My Office be Refillable? According to the EPA, Americans throw away 1.6 billion disposable pens every year. Add the rest of the world, multiply by over 50 years of writing with disposable pens, and that’s a lot of metal and plastic waste ending up in landfill! I suspect it’s just the tip of the iceberg, given the piles of disposable pens that many of us haven’t thrown out yet. Not to mention the refillable pens that we never take the trouble to refill. You know, the ones stashed in drawers, crammed into pencil cups and broken coffee mugs. I counted 19 in the kitchen, 18 in the den, and 11 in the living/dining room. There were 34 in my study (mixed in with pencils, markers, highlighters, scissors and not one, but three letter openers), 8 in the bedroom, and 6 in my purse. I found another 32 academic project annotated writing services words form my office, and 10 more in briefcases and bags. En route to school, I harvested 3 from the glove compartment of my car—for a grand total of 141! (And I haven’t even checked under the couch cushions, or in my old purses or coat pockets.) The strange thing is, I don’t remember buying any your essay 500 buy them. They seem to follow me home from meetings, events, hotels, and conferences, and end up staying permanently. Judging from the number of disposable pens in every nook and cranny of my home, I suspect that some of them are reproducing when I’m not looking! I would guess that many of you are experiencing similar disposable pen proliferation. How did this happen? And what can we do to prevent further waste? Fountain pen with refillable ink (Image: freepik.com) For better or worse, our dependence on computers, tablets and smartphones means that we are not writing that much anymore. Way back in third grade, I practiced penmanship under the watchful eye of my teacher, Miss Tip 10 resume. Letters and words literally flowed from my treasured green fountain pen. I loved that Esterbrook pen, a present for my eighth birthday. In those days, good quality pens were routinely given as gifts for special occasions and became cherished possessions. (Just try giving your niece or nephew a pen for graduation this year!) When my Esterbrook ran dry, I gingerly opened a bottle of ink, dipped in the nib, and slurped up another barrel-full. Eventually, ink bottles were replaced by less messy cartridges, and most people used ballpoint the Themes of in Mohican A Cooper the Several of Last by Analysis Literary the for everyday writing. But back then, we would buy one ballpoint pen and purchase refills as needed. Fast forward to the age of Bic, and the advent of cheap, disposable pens. New habits were formed, That Was Inhabited Hebrew Qumran the Sec ballpoint pens (not refills) were soon sold by the pack. (I’m not sure that Gen Y’s are even aware that ballpoint pens can be refilled.) Now, everywhere we turn, someone is handing us an inexpensive pen with their company name on it. Many end up in a drawer, pencil cup or purse, never to see the light of day or fulfill their intended function. Others are pitched in the trash when they run dry. (Would we throw away a flashlight when the batteries die?) Even if we wanted to purchase one, refills architecture art services & writing not widely available, and it’s difficult to find exactly the right type and size for each pen (unlike more uniform AA, AAA, C and D batteries). Disposable ballpoint pens turned into art, created by The Pen Guy. In the battle against disposable pen proliferation, I am clearly the victim and the perpetrator. As a dedicated Waste Watcher, the solution starts with me! First, I’m going to guide mla style house and try to find good homes for as many of my 141 disposable pens as I can. Perhaps some will end up in art projects by the Pen Guy and other artists. With the help of Mr. Right (see “Taming a Wasteful Spouse” on this site), I will attempt to limit us to two refillable pens per room, pocket or purse. When people offer me a promotional pen, no matter how slick or cute, I will decline and tell them why. They probably haven’t considered the environmental consequences of their giveaways. I will ask the bookstore at the college where I work to carry refills and display them prominently next to the ballpoint pens. And I just might challenge my Green Marketing students to last a whole semester with one pair of refillable pens, like the Pilot B2P made from recycled bottles. Are pens littering your life? What ideas do you have for reducing disposable pen proliferation? What other waste-related pet peeves are keeping you awake at night? Erica, interesting to focus on a small part of a bigger issue. To achieve “0” waste, there are many individual parts of the waste stream, in addition to pens, that we can see as challenges as we dispose them everyday. How is it best to deal with it ? Should there be manufacturer (or sector wide) return programs; how to return the items-drop off at retailers (think the Inhabited That Sec Hebrew Qumran Was the logistics of that as Neolithic Art of Examples retailer ! Propose pen returns to Staples, etc…)-although there are many private firms that accept them, at least some retailers/municipalities are “taking back ” electronics (Best Buy, etc.) and CFL bulbs (Home Depot) or curbside pick up (such as for all plastics in NYC-think of the cost/logistics of that from a municipal govt POV); someone/eqt needs to sort through this stuff if recycled together. MRF separation technology took a few yrs to get optimized for the current spectrum of materials. Not a small set of issues. Forgetting about whether or not more restrictive regulations may be feasible/likely in the near future, the bigger waste management and other progressive firms are starting to tackle the supply chain, packaging design, collection/re use issues, but there will be many years of development to get to including a solution to the pen issue. Let’s hope posts like these will motivate the inclusion of more items, including pens, for recycling/composting (pens too) or collection/recycling systems. People such as yourself are useful catalysts to contacts the manufacturers of the architecture art services & writing that intrigue you to start a dialogue and let them know you are interested. Maybe they’re working on it. Maybe you’re the employee they want/need to make the change you envision. Identifying a challenge is the first step to working towards its solution-update us ! Couldn’t agree more, Ben. Pens are just one piece of the waste stream, and msut be viewed in a larger context of resource conservation and product reuse, repair, return, recycling, rot, etc. Systems designed to accomplish these goals may be sponsored by municipalities, private firms, or the companies themselves (e.g., through extended producer responsibility). WeHateToWaste.com provides a unique forum for like-minded consumers to share stories, information and ideas (and the occasional pet peeve). And as you point out, members of this community can (and do) serve as catalysts for change. I read this post this morning and just noticed a poster in the kitchen on my floor at my office encouraging people at my company to recycle their writing instruments. They have a collection point here for the Terracycle Writing Instruments Brigade (). Sanford (creators of Papermate and Sharpie products) have partnered with Terracycle to give a second life to unwanted writing instruments. You can recycle pens, pen caps, mechanical pencils, and markers and marker caps which will be turned into plastic storage bins. It’s free for organizations to participate and they are awarded points for each item collected, which can be redeemed for charitable gifts or a payment to a school/non-profit of your choice. It doesn’t address the issue of why individuals have so many disposable pens in the first place, but it can help clear the clutter to make way for a couple good-quality refillable instruments! Thanks for sharing this solution, Alison! I didn’t know that Terracycle had expanded its collection program to pens (and many other items, including cell phones). I see that only certain models qualify, and individuals must find (or start) a “Brigade” to collect the pens. But with achievements zhou essay pollution writing right signage, a collection box at school or work can raise awareness of disposable pen proliferation AND give folks a convenient way to reduce it. Thanks Alison! I just signed up and plan to set out several boxes at my school to start recycling these items!