Everyday sustainability: The afterlife of a pen

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(image: http://www.wehatetowaste.com/disposable-pen/)

It happened to be just yesterday when I went stationery shopping. And as I stepped out of the store, instead of the usual bliss I experience after buying stationery, I found myself preoccupied with a puzzling thought. Actually, one of the things I bought was a bunch of brand new disposable pens. And it was a while before I realized that I had bought a few, just the week before, as well. As I scratched my head wondering what happened to those pens, I struggled to recall if I used them completely, or threw them away, or lost all of them in a mere 7 days.

It`s quite funny how we talk about the idea of “sustainability” in very broad contexts (like corporate, development and culture) and yet fail to see how deeply ingrained it is in the simplest of our daily actions. Do you have any recollection of ever using your pencil completely till its height reduced to that of a dwarf? Since yesterday, I have been constantly thinking about all the pens that have gone missing the moment I looked away. And as I asked around, it became evident that this happens to almost every person and most of their stationery products. What must happen to all these unused stationery and the materials they are made from – plastic, metal and wood – Where exactly does all of it end up?

In India, companies like Flair, lexi, Hindustan pencils limited, produce thousands of these stationery items everyday and we keep buying them only to eventually leave them unused. A few end up in the pocket of an old pair of pants, or in that drawer in the desk which you rarely open. And by the end of it, all the materials in these pens and pencils become a part of the Landfill Mountains, where it is highly unlikely for them to get a new life.

Coming back to this bundle of pens that I have discovered in my room – I have figured 3 simple ways to become sustainable about my pen use:-

  1. I will give most of these away in a dry waste center, where they can be recycled to a new life. Some I will upcycle, the way Penguyart does, creatively.
  2. I will try and use ink-pens or pencils as much as possible and use them efficiently.
  3. I will start a stationery pool with my roommates and close friends, so that we share resources and make sure things don’t disappear between us.

If you can think of more ways to add here, do leave a comment 🙂

Read more about greening disposable pens here!


Yash Batra the writes of this article, is a part of Team Ecofolk & a student of Christ university.

Feel free to share your thoughts about this article with yash and the rest of the team at ecofolkteam@gmail.com

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