Low plastic office: pens

Like my shaving, I adopted fountain pens years ago because I prefer the experience of writing with them. Most modern fountain pens — the inexpensive ones anyway — are almost all plastic, however, and that’s not good. Twisting open to refill, uncapping and recapping . . . the plastic fails. So I moved to mostly-metal pens even before my current interest in plastic reduction. So I have some experience to draw on.

Here are my two workhorses. A little Pilot Birdie — which I got recently on eBay; alas, they’re no longer made — and the larger Parker Vector, which is more commonly remembered in its plastic version.

The Pilot has a squeezing bladder, which takes relatively little ink and it dries out if the cap is off more than a minute when not writing. (Recap a moment and it’s fine.) It really is a jotter: small notes, blog post ideas, phone numbers. I carry it with me. The Parker takes cartridges — no more! — or an adaptor, to fill from a bottle. A more robust medium nub, which is better for letters and longer-format writing; I leave it on my desk.

Plastic savings? In time, I imagine there will be some. But the Pilot in particular comes in a big plastic case. I do keep a regular ball-point pen around for anything taking pressure, like forms. But the key is using those pens, and keeping up with them. Take those other pens back to the supply closet. Say no to the cheap ones that come as promotion pieces.

A nice pen doesn’t have to cost a fortune — many of us already have them; an old graduation present? — and it helps keep the desk tidy and low-plastic.

By Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.

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