All about the little things
We've found that reducing waste is all about the little things. For us, that means things like bringing our own grocery bags to the store, carrying around our insulated coffee mugs and water bottles, and using easy green cleaning solutions. Simple swaps can make a really big difference in reducing waste over time.
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The Power of the Pen
Technology has simplified the process of writing without pen and paper. With smartphones and note-taking apps, it’s safe to assume that the reliance on pen and paper has decreased.
But I still find it enjoyable to write things down the “old-fashioned way”. I love writing a to-do list and crossing off each item - so rewarding! I also like to write my grocery list on a scrap piece of paper.
Recently I’ve been reflecting on just how many pens have come and gone throughout my life. And frankly, I couldn’t even begin to count what the total must be… Pens I've acquired from conferences, hotel lobbies; ones I've purchased and disliked so they just sit there unused, or the ones I've lost or misplaced - this one probably happens the most.
Most (if not every one) of the pens I’ve ever owned, borrowed, or found, have been disposable. A pen that starts full of ink, but once the ink is gone, the pen is destined for the trash.
Disposable pens are made with a mixture of plastic and metal, making them very hard to recycle. Luckily there are companies popping up like Terracycle, who make it easier to dispose of hard-to-recycle materials. But even so, many pens you'll come across are not recyclable.
Try a Fountain Pen!
In my zero waste journey, I researched an alternate approach to disposable pens and discovered fountain pens! Okay, I knew of them, but didn’t really realize the reusable nature of them. I remember as a kid playing with (an empty) fountain pen, not understanding that you could refill them.
By investing in a quality fountain pen and a bottle of ink, I can simply refill my pen with fresh ink without the need for another plastic pack of pens.
They can be an investment, but a single fountain pen will last much longer than that 100-pack of cheap-o pens. Spend just a little more on a SINGLE pen, and you’ll (hopefully) never have to buy another pen again. I find that when I invest in something, I’m much more likely to keep track of it and take care of it.
Find a well-made, metal fountain pen. They’re built to last much longer than your standard plastic pen. They’re also refillable with ink available in recyclable glass bottles.
There are many different types of fountain pens to choose from, with different nibs for various writing styles, as well as a variety of ink types, impacting tones and drying time. So go find the right pen for you and your preferred writing style. Look for used fountain pens at thrift stores or antique shops.
Advantages of a fountain pen
- They’re designed to be refilled and the ink can be purchased in glass bottles, both that can be purchased with minimal or no waste produced.
- They are made of mostly metal - a more sustainable choice.
- They will last a very long time when treated correctly.
Refilling your fountain pen
A bottle of ink will last you quite a while. We opted for Noodlers ink, but there are many different ones to choose from. One thing to keep in mind when choosing ink is the drying time.Slower drying time means smearing is more likely.
When you purchase a pen, also make sure it comes with a converter. This is what will allow you to refill the pen as opposed to getting disposable plastic cartridges. Here’s a great video for how to refill your fountain pen with the converter.
My Challenge To You
Find and pile up all the pens you own, and USE them up before investing in a fountain pen. While a reusable and zero-waste pen is the overall goal, we don’t want to promote further waste by discarding perfectly good ink-filled pens.
But once you’re all out of those disposable pens, go find yourself a fountain pen, and get an ink bottle along with it for all your refilling needs. I really enjoy writing with my fountain pen, and I'm sure our ink bottle is going to last quite a long time!
What do you think? Have you ever tried a fountain pen?
Check out our Green Living page for more zero waste tips!
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