Many people are always looking for ways to make their everyday life more sustainable, and one thing that often gets overlooked is the writing instruments we use. This raises the question, should I use a wooden or mechanical pencil?
Some may instantly see the reusable nature of a mechanical pencil as being the obvious choice, but it’s not. While a mechanical pencil is made up of metals and plastics that are individually recyclable, combined, they are not.
Instead, these writing instruments contain multiple kinds of plastic and metal. Combine that into a very small package and you have something that the recycling system cannot handle. Instead, you will find them in the nearest landfill.
However, does that make them worse than wooden pencils?
Is A Wooden Pencil Better Than A Mechanical One?
Well, now that we know that mechanical pencils aren’t exactly recyclable, are wooden ones any better?
Honestly, the only advantage they have is that they are wood. This means that less energy is required to produce them. Thus, from a production standpoint, yes, they’re a bit more eco-friendly.
However, they have a much shorter lifespan in comparison to mechanical pencils. Thus, you will use more of them.
It’s also worth pointing out the shavings that are generated when they are sharpened. While you can do some pretty interesting things with pencil shavings in the arts and crafts world, most of them just end up in the garbage.
The good news is that they will decompose much faster than plastic, but there’s nothing really sustainable about a wooden pencil.
Back to mechanical pencils, they actually don’t have much waste and they can be reused for many years, assuming you don’t break them or more likely lose one. If they run out of lead, you can just refill them, and even replace the erasers.
Thus, in terms of potential, a mechanical pencil can be more sustainable.
What About Pens?
You might be curious how pens stack up against wooden and mechanical pencils, and it’s a mixed bag.
On one hand, pens are actually starting to become eco-friendly. They are made with biodegradable materials and some can even be recycled. Similarly to mechanical pencils, you can refill some of them with more ink when they run out.
However, there are far more pens that are not sustainable or recyclable than those that are.
We also need to discuss the ink the pen uses. Again, it’s pretty mixed. Most pens are filled with ink that is toxic. And this is a real issue when they decompose in a landfill.
Not to mention the implications of their creation. That said, there are actually very sustainable options when it comes to ink.
For example, fountain pens can use walnut ink. It is naturally made, acid-free, and contains no toxic ingredients. Thus similar to mechanical pencils, they can be sustainable if the user makes the effort.
Thus, sustainable pens are an option and they can be the best option out of the three, but they are not very common.
Robert has been following and writing about environmental stories for years at GreenGeeks. He believes that highlighting environmentally friendly practices can help promote change in every household.