top of page
  • Writer's pictureDaniel Ouimet

Can Those "Free" Ballpoint Pens Be Recycled?

Updated: Oct 29, 2022

I enjoy the thought of living once again in a time when day to day life was conducted with more class and formality. There's something about seeing men wearing suits and women wearing hats and dresses just to enjoy a night at the movies or make a visit to the bank. This is when banking was conducted in person. You actually visited an elegant lobby and were additionally treated to the opportunity of using their fancy pens. Of course, even in more proper times, banks tried to foil would-be thieves of their fancy pens by attaching them with robust bead chain to the counter. Well, banks evidently got tired of dangling bead chains sans pens because now all you'll find is a basket of free, inexpensive plastic pens. Although a boon to aspiring kleptomaniacs, the "free" pens are not recyclable and come with a staggering cost. Americans alone "throw away" a staggering 1.6 billion of these "disposable pens" each year according to an EPA estimate!

Before we became a throwaway society, many people owned just one or two quality pens. First, they were fountain pens which fell out of favor to ballpoint pens and rollerball pens. A person owned one or two excellent writing pens and used them for years before passing them on to family like any other treasured possession. Owning just one or even a few quality pens was still a thing when I was growing up. As a paperboy in Janesville, WI, the former headquarters of Parker Pen, I received beautiful pens from my route customers as Christmas gifts. I'm sure this is where my attraction to nice pens, especially pens with a satisfying heft, began. I kept those nice pens in a cigar box with my favorite jackknife and other treasures. I've lost those nice pens over the years but can't help believing someone has them in their collection today.

Vintage bank lobby
Better days


bottom of page