Ok, I officially ‘used up’ my regular old ball disposable point pen. There’s no bringing it back to life, every drop of ink was used up illustrating and writing! So I turned to the source of my Pentel RSVP Black BK90 pens and it didn’t take me long to discover that Pentel offers refils for their disposable pens! So that’s one tiny problem solved. But what about the handful of pens I’ve got sitting here that are dried up that don’t take refills?
“Every year Americans discard 1.6 million pens. Placed end to end, they would stretch 151 miles — equivalent to crossing the state of Rhode Island almost 4 times! …Many companies presently carry one to several lines of products which have positive environmental attributes. These attributes include recycled content, refillable options, nontoxic inks and more environmentally responsible packaging.” –Green Seal
So how does one recycle old dried up pens? Here are some ideas to reuse and recycle old pens:
- • Don’t purchase disposable pens : buy one or two good quality refillable pens (and pencils,) and purchase refils as needed.
- • Buy pens without excessive packaging (or at least packaging that is recyclable and made of recycled materials)
- • Purchase refills for your pens & pencils
- • Revive dried up pens by running the tip through a lighter flame, or by adding a drop or two of hot water in the tube.
- • Empty pen casing can be used to safely protect a traditional thermometer; store beads; as a pirch in a bird cage; for marking seedlings in the garden; for stir sticks; as a glue applicator; give those poor quality pens to kids to draw with; get creative!
- At the moment you can’t toss pens in the recycling bin, as they require disassembling and recycling centers don’t have the time to do all that finicky work.
- I’ve yet to find a company that has a take-back program for their disposable pens. So the best thing I can recommend is : Don’t buy them, don’t take them home from seminars and hotels. Just buy pens that can be refilled and reused. I visited How Do I Recycle This thinking someone there may have found where I can recycle these… and aside from lots of tips on how to revive dried up pens, I couldn’t find my answer!
Office Stationery Take Back Programs
I’m having a hard time finding any take-back programs for stationery such as pens and pencils… help?
Green Seal has written an informative and helpful report on sustainable office stationery in general, including some links to take-back recycling programs.
Pentel USA. : no mention on their website of how to recycle their products. But they do use recycled and recyclable materials for their boxes, cartons and blister cards.
Bic : has a page on Sustainable Developments, but to be honest it was very disappointing. It eloquently skirted around the issues of how much waste their disposable products create, making appearances they are concerned for the environment, while also emphasizing that keeping costs down to make cheap products is their priority over their affect on the environment. They do however encourage you to purchase their more expensive refillable fountain pens. Does Bic recycle? No… apparrantly ‘To be recyclable, products at the end of their life must offer significant potential in both weight and volume…BIC(r) products do not meet these criteria.”