Tuesday, August 28, 2007

No, You May Not Borrow My Pen

After seeing an article about the waste of half used plastic pens cluttering the environment and our homes, I, of course, looked around my home to see if we fell within the norm. I was horrified to find hundreds of the offending disposable pens purchased by some office supply fiend (me), donated by politicians and salesmen, and stolen borrowed from desks when I go to the office. I immediately issued an edict,
“No more pens will enter this house until every drop of ink is used from the pens we have.”
As usual, I spoke without really thinking about the difficulty of achieving the goal, but we did slow the flow. True, our little household doesn’t effect the demand for throw-away pens, but making an effort to rid our house felt good. The first thing I did was cull pens – ridding my life of frustration producing skip writers and ink gloppers. Then, we started using pens, determined to use one until no ink remained. Most of the pens were so poorly manufactured (counting on our inability to keep up with them or our preference for new) we never had the satisfaction of watching the ink sink to the end of the tube. Even though I did succumb to temptation and purchase the children some markers for their timeline and map work (I can’t punish my children for every hair brained idea I get), I haven’t purchased a pen in a year which is an amazing feat for someone who drools over/on/into the office supply catalog.

Until last week.

When I was getting ready to sign payroll checks, I couldn’t find a working pen other than a uni-ball vision elite with orange ink. The bank had already warned me against using orange, pink, and green ink (though I think it adds a happy touch) on the checks since it adds extra work because their scanners don’t capture nonstandard banking colors. I used one of the children’s markers, which is also probably non-bankish, and then purchased a delicious lapis blue fountain pen, hopefully made in the USA, and a bottle of luscious cocoa brown ink.

Now that I have this pen, I wonder why we have moved away from these wonderful, more permanent instruments; why anyone would sacrifice the feel of a nicely made pen and the flow of the perfect shade of cocoa ink flowing from the perfectly fine tipped nib. This may be my last blog entry. I'll do all my journaling on my 100% post consumer waste paper with my non-disposable fountain pen feeling good about my contribution to the environment while enjoying a luxury. Seriously, after a couple of days, I'm hooked.

It really only took one day to become hooked, but I did have to make a few minor adjustments to my desk habits. Learning to fill the reservoir with ink left me with a finger and thumb stained brown. I will also have to train myself to be more careful with my ice cold Tab unsweetened iced tea that has a tendency to perspire and leave unsightly brown blotches on my work. Other than those small annoyances that should be easily trained away, the conversion was easy. If I was a lefty, I might have to mirror write like Leonardo da Vinci did in his journals even though the ink appears to dry almost instantly, but since I'm not, I won't worry about it.

I'm done with disposable pens. Like line drying clothes, baking bread, and keeping bees and chickens, turning my back on this environmentally unfriendly habit is painless, even enjoyable. So, no. You may not borrow my pen because I only have one, not one hundred.


Anonymous said...

I just ordered pens in my last stationery order (I have an account and they deliver. I love this.) because so many of the purloined hotel pens were crappy and I could never find something decent. But I will contemplate your idea. Won't stop me form purloining a pen or two when I stay in a hotel next week though. They are good things to have hanging around in the bottom of one's purse.

Kate in NJ said...

I am absolutely Green with envy!
I am still using all the pens we have, but I may follow in your footsteps when we are done.

Angela, MotherCrone said...

I love this idea. I was given a lovely Mont Blanc pen when I graduated college, and used it for a decade (just buying ink)

My family will just love this (not). they already think I am nuts, but I will not issue it until there is a permanent pen in each of their stocking!!!

ZBTzahBTzoo said...

Oooh, this inspired a search for the perfect fountain pen! The pen I loved for me was the Parker Duofold Fountain Pen - Centennial Check Amber. I wish it didn't cost more than my hangbag! (but it would count as an "accessory," right?)

Great idea, Angela! Stocking stuffers! I'm calling Santa!

Wisteria said...

You really have expensive taste!, Z. What a beautiful pen. I was going to work out the math to make you feel better about splurging, but you would have had to be purchasing cases and cases of disposables to merit the assertion that it would all even out in a year or so.

I didn't do that much damage with my purchase.

Penelope said...

I've been reading your blog for a while now and I really enjoy it. I had to come out of lurkdom to comment on this post. I LOVE fountain pens. In fact, growing up I almost always used one in school. I was the only kid I knew of who used one, but I loved it. I still enjoy a fountain pen, though I usually end up writing with coloured pencil or crayon (or whatever I can find lying around) these days!