There are a number of "eco-friendly" pens and pencils on the market advertising recycled content and other "green" features, but are they really as good as they look? Many standard wooden pencils use wood from fairly well-managed sources, and "green" pens still seem to use fairly standard disposable ink cartridges. So is there really enough of a difference to justify the advertising and premium prices?

1 Answer 1


I would be surprised if any pen would be more sustainable than a sustainably sourced pencil.

In terms of sustainability, I still think that "green" pens should come after refillable pens, pencils and fountain pens.

There are also refillable cartridges for standard fountain pens, which usually come with plastic cartridges. For example, this middle one looks (and is) a plastic cartridge for a fountain pen, but the red end twists and is able to suck in ink from an inkwell.


At one point I used such a model for many years, which should be more sustainable than any other type of pen (feathers aside, I guess). Now I use almost exclusively mechanical pencils (and chalk on a blackboard).

So my verdict for your green pens:
"Green"? Maybe more so than others. Sustainable? Not really.

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    I totally agree with your answer. Plus pens that are refillable are often metal rather than plastic and write better. If "conventional models" means the largest selling pens i.e. disposables like Bic or Papermate I think that a biodegradable pen does help over these. Having done quite a few beach cleanups the predominant trash that washes up are plastics - LOTS of straws and plastic pens. The green pens aren't 100% sustainable but biodegradable would help in saving lives of aquatic species that ingest the plastic. FYI don't leave the "green" pen in a hot car. Commented Jul 18, 2013 at 14:51

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