image by trp0/Tyler

Reduce, reuse, recycle – most people are now aware of the “3 R’s” and recycle at least part of their household trash.  But what about something as small as pens and markers?  They take up space in the landfill too.  Every year Americans discard 1.6 million plus pens, according to Green Seal, and placed end to end, they would stretch 151 miles, or the equivalent of crossing the state of Rhode Island almost 4 times!  So, what do we do with used pens and markers?

You can always get a little more life out of a used up pen by running the tip through a lighter flame or adding a couple of drops of hot water in the tube.  Reuse empty pen casings for other things like a stir stick or a garden marker.  Pens are hard to recycle because they require disassembling and recycling plants don’t usually do that.  One company called TerraCycle, which makes products from waste, has partnered with Sharpie, Paper Mate and EXPO to repurpose used pens, markers and other writing instruments.   Some local office supply stores take back old pens to be sent to the manufacturer and shredded, melted and reused.

The best solution however, is to stop purchasing disposable pens and markers and buy refillable ones (including pencils) made from post consumer waste  instead.  And, don’t take free pen giveaways at hotels or seminars. The less stuff we have, the less we have to throw away.


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