9 Reusable & Eco-Friendly Pens—Write Without Writing OFF Our Planet
Are we ever too old for eco-friendly school supplies?
We just get to an age where they become eco friendly office supplies instead!
But out of all the stationery to choose from, there’s only one essential piece that’s mightier than the sword.
The humble pen.
But not every pen is made equal. Often they’re made of plastic (and often lost to who knows where), so there’s room for improvement in making our favorite writing apparatus more planet-friendly.
Sustainable Pens We’d Love to write with
And when you can’t get refillable, the eco friendly pens and pencils from Onyx & Green are consciously made from natural and recycled materials.
Or if pens are a little too permanent for you, opt for our favorite pencils from Sprout—which you can actually plant when you’re done.
Before the ink runs dry, let’s get to the list.
See the end of the article for our scribblings on how we chose these stuPENdous brands.
*This post contains affiliate links
QUICK LINKS FOR REUSABLE AND ECO-FRIENDLY PENS
REFILLABLE & REUSABLE PENS
1. LAMY SAFARI OR LAMY 2000
Lamy’s Reusable Pens
Lamy specializes in fountain pens, refillable by either cartridges or a glass jar.
The fine-point Lamy Safari has a colored plastic body and a black-coated steel nib. An ink window makes it easy to see when it needs refilling.
For something more durable, the Lamy 2000 matte black fountain pen is made from durable brushed stainless steel and black fiberglass. It also has a 14K gold, platinum-coated extra-fine nib.
We wouldn’t suggest giving this one out as an eco friendly promotional pen, not least because they fetch between $30 to $140—but it is on display at the Museum of Modern Art!
Lamy pens are made in Germany with excellent workmanship.
To ensure these sustainable pens last forever, all pens have spare parts that can be obtained from specialized retail shops.
For difficult repairs, they have a Service Center to get your pen back into writing condition.
2. PILOT VANISHING POINT COLLECTION
PILOT’s Refillable Pen
For fancy eco friendly ink pens, PILOT offers several sleek, refillable, and retractable fountain pens.
And these Vanishing Point Collection pens are the first of their kind.
They feature rhodium-plated 18K gold, a smooth writing nib (available in medium, broad, and fine), and an elegant gift box that features an ink cartridge and converter for an easy refill.
For those on a budget, PILOT also makes “disposable” fountain pens with refillable cartridges, though one certainly can keep using them over and over.
PILOT is a well-known name in the world of pens.
While they still make their share of disposable plastic pens, they are trying to pen sustainability into their business model with a new recyclable product range.
80% of their pens are now refillable.
Their Japanese and European manufacturing facilities are ISO 14001 certified to have a minimal environmental impact.
3. EBAY SECONDHAND FOUNTAIN PENS
eBay’s Secondhand Pens
If you’ve dreamed of writing with a Mont Blanc pen, buying secondhand is the most affordable way to get your hands on one of the best eco friendly pens.
And there’s a very good chance you’ll find a gem like that on the Internet’s unlimited warehouse of used goods: eBay.
Be sure to refine your search to eco friendly refillable pens and see what magic eBay conjures.
eBay is greener than you might give the resale giant credit for.
They track and share their environmental footprint and are cutting emissions by using more renewable energy (with an eventual goal of 100%).
In support of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, they’ve also increased the number of women employed at eBay, have programs to support small businesses, and support nonprofit organizations.
ECO FRIENDLY BALL POINT PENS
4. AGOOD COMPANY
A Good Company’s Grass Pens
AGood Company knows we all need a good pen.
But how about a beautiful eco friendly pen made from locally sourced natural meadow grass combined with BPA-free plastics?
These pens can be refilled with non-toxic blue or black ink for as long as you look after them.
About A Good Company
The pens are CE-certified and produced in a factory powered by renewable energy (biogas and waste heat).
They ship in recycled and recyclable packaging that contains no superfluous material.
A Good Company partners with WeForest to plant trees in Zambia for every purchase.
Available: AGood Company
5. ONYX & GREEN
Onyx & Green’s Pen Range
Onyx & Green has all the eco friendly office supplies—including a few plastic free pens too.
Their Bamboo Ballpoint Pens are made from, well…bamboo, rubber, and plant-based corn plastic.
While they don’t quite satisfy the demand for plastic-free eco-friendly gel pens, their Retractable Gel Pens come pretty close—because they’re made with corn-based plastic and recycled plastic.
They also have a Retractable Wheat Straw Black Gel Pen and a fancier Bamboo Refillable Blue Gel Pen which can both be easily refilled and used for years.
Their eco friendly ink for pens is soy-based.
About Onyx & Green
Onyx & Green is a one-stop shop for sustainable school supplies.
From recycled newspaper pencils to plant-based glue, everything is made from recycled, natural, and post-consumer materials that will outlast a year in even the messiest middle school locker.
Their packaging is made from recycled materials and their labels are printed with low-impact ink.
ECO FRIENDLY DIP PENS
6. BONNIE’S BIT & THINGS
Bonnie’s Bit & Things Bamboo Dip Pen
Bonnie’s Bit & Things creates truly zero waste pens.
Made with just bamboo, these pens can be tossed in your indoor compost bin if they ever break.
Considering you can just dip the tip in ink and write away (like ye old Shakespeare), that’s about the only way these pens would ever stop being useful.
They’re also handmade and can thus be cut in different sized nibs, from fine to broad.
About Bonnie’s Bit & Things
Shop owner Bonnie has a selection of bamboo and feather dip pens, all made by her husband (a craft he’s been honing for 25 years).
Since this shop is Etsy-based, all shipping is carbon neutral. Etsy is also powered entirely by renewable energy and makes supporting small shops like this one a breeze.
7. THE CONSTANT FORAGER
The Constant Forager’s Bamboo Dip Pens and Ink
The Constant Forager’s natural bamboo dip pens come with foraged walnut ink.
With a large cut tip to create a variety of stroke sizes, the set screams calligraphy.
About The Constant Forager
The shop’s owner, Roxanne, loves spending time outdoors and wants to share nature’s gifts with a larger community.
Her items are made with non-toxic materials (locally sourced if possible) and zero waste policies.
ECO-FRIENDLY ALTERNATIVES TO PENS
PARWANA’s Recycled Newspaper Pencils
“No trees are harmed in the making” of the recycled newspaper pencils by PARWANA.
Available in 10 different colors and HB2 standard graphite, these pencils are as unique as they are functional.
They come in a handmade sleeve (made from recycled cardstock and plant remnants) with specs of silk fiber thread, though you can also opt to receive yours sans packaging.
As for shipping, you’ll receive your order in ECO clear compostable bags.
PARWANA started by taking over a failing paper-making outfit in Pakistan.
Now based in Canada, they are:
“committed to achiev[ing] its goal of restoring the livelihood of the local artisans who are involved in the art of paper-making, bookbinding and block printing, providing them with financial, technical and design support to develop contemporary artifacts, and help them find new markets locally”.
In addition to pencils, they specialize in gorgeous recycled deckled edge newspaper stationery and eco-friendly notebooks, all hand made in small batches. If you’re looking for unique Etsy gifts, any of these would suit.
9. SPROUT PENCIL
Sprout Pencil’s Plantable Pencils
Sprout Pencil makes one of the best eco friendly alternatives to pens.
Because they can literally be planted at the end of their life.
These pencils are made of a non-toxic clay and graphite core (in traditional or colored varieties) and PEFC or FSC certified sustainably harvested wood shaft. Which is to say that every time a tree is harvested, another one is planted.
Circling back to the cool part: In place of an eraser, they feature a patented non-GMO seed capsule you can simply stick in the soil when the pencil becomes too short.
Between our love of handwritten to-do lists and sudoku, we’ve already gone through one of these delightful pencils and are now patiently waiting for our beautiful basil sprout to mature.
While reaching the end is the really exicitng part, Sprout makes the process pretty great, too, with a pleasant natural wood texture and smooth, (mostly) non-smudging graphite performance when actually writing.
These pencils are also EN-71 certified as safe and harmless for children.
About Sprout Pencil
Sprout incorporates sustainability into all aspects of their operations, as demonstrated by their membership to both SEDEX and the UN Global Compact corporate citizenship initiative.
They’ve received many awards and are consistently trying to make their writing pencils and eyeliner pencils even greener.
They wrote a book on transparency. You can read their Code of Conduct, COP report, and proof of certifications on their website.
THE PROBLEM WITH TRADITIONAL PENS
In the U.S. alone, more than 1.6 billion disposable pens are sent to landfills annually.
Not only does this equate to pouring fossil fuels down the drain (and into the landfill), but, like other plastic items, they also pose a risk of releasing toxic chemicals as they break down—including microplastics.
While pens are recyclable in theory, they often can’t be.
Ink is considered a contaminant and recycling facilities don’t have the time or resources to disassemble the various parts to be transformed into something new.
If we want to do write by mother earth, we should all opt for eco friendly pens to erase or reduce our carbon pencil-print…
HOW WE FOUND THE MOST ECO-FRIENDLY PENS
What exactly makes for an eco friendly pen?
Turns out, a few things.
But the most important thing is that the pens are zero or low waste, meaning they are either compostable or reusable (in this case, refillable) at the end of their ink well.
Plastic is still the go-to material for many pens, so we’re ready to write our hearts out when we see that it’s recycled.
Metals are another solid material for the best reusable pens, because of its durability.
Some brands are experimenting with more unique materials, too, like locally-sourced meadow grass, corn-based plastic, wheat straw, bamboo, and (in the case of non-pens), recycled newspaper.
We also look for soy-based and non-toxic ink.
The most eco friendly pens are also those that are refillable.
For reusable fountain pens, secondhand pens will produce the cleanest handwriting for our planet so these should be your first choice.
If you’re looking to buy new, look for those that either come with a converter (or are compatible with one) or can be refilled with a bottle of ink.
Alternatively, you might see a piston fountain pen, which has a knob (blind cap) at the end of the pen that can be turned and refilled.
Supply chain & labor practices:
This isn’t a focus yet in the world of office supplies, but there are some brands making efforts to legibly (AKA transparently) disclose their manufacturing practices.
Green business practices:
Aside from making more eco friendly products, we looked for brands using sustainable factory practices, renewable energy, and eco friendly packaging and shipping materials.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON ECO-FRIENDLY PENS
Despite the rise in digital communication, pens aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.
But there are sustainable alternatives for our scribbling. Which isn’t to say that you should make that switch immediately.
If you have pens lying around, use them up first.
Then, consider upcycling them into something ‘new’—a picture frame border, cat toy, or coffee stirrer (without the ink!)? Or, order a TerraCycle zero waste box for pens, pencils, and markers to be sustainably recycled.
Feel free to share this guide with all the pen-o-philes, so together we can collectively green up our penmanship.