Choosing Pencils Over Pens
This is the fourth change in my month-long pledge to give up plastics for Crunchy's Extreme Eco-Throwdown.
Why is it that once you pass the age of twelve, using a pencil feels so juvenile? Who determined that pens were for grown ups and pencils for kids? Is it because we want to see ourselves as so infallible that we no longer have need for an eraser?
In truth, the only occasions that require a pen are those that legally bind us to an agreement. Whether it's something complex as signing a mortgage or as mundane as putting your John Hancock on a check, legal agreements are really the only items that require ink. Everything else, however, can be done in pencil. The grocery lists, the to-do lists, random doodles and blog ideas - all these and more can be done with a old fashioned pencil.
Why does it even matter? Because the majority of pens found in our homes and offices are disposable pieces of crap. The body of the pen is generally made from plastic and the ink is a combination of solvents, pigments, dyes, resins, lubricants, solubilizers, surfactants, particulate matter, fluorescers, and other materials. I wonder what the river that runs by that factory looks like.
A pencil, on the other hand, is made from a mixture of graphite and clay encased in a wooden sheath, with perhaps a rubber eraser attached to one end. Couldn't be simpler or more natural. Unless I was writing on a cave wall with like, a charred stick or piece of dried animal dung or something.
And unlike a disposable pen, when a pencil is used up, it's used up. There's nothing left save some wood shavings, a nub of eraser and a metal ring. A pen, on the other hand, still retains all its plasticky likeness - an empty shaft to be tossed in the landfill where it may or may not degrade in a thousand years or so. And since Bic alone has sold over one hundred billion disposable ballpoint pens since the 1950's, you can imagine the tons and tons of waste these hollow cylinders create.
So I'm giving up plastic pens in favor of pencils. I don't see myself signing a new mortgage anytime soon and maybe by then I'll have found a nice aluminum or stainless steel refillable fountain pen. In the meantime, though, you'll find me with an old #2 in my hand (and by that I mean the pencil, not the poo).