Recycling Pens

Uniball 207 Pen It is scary how many plastic pens are thrown away into the trash every year. The plastic from a single year could circle the earth many times! Certainly the best solution is to buy one great pen you love and then buy refills for it. There's far less waste. The only thing you then have to dispose of is that one plastic empty pen tube.

I adore the UniBall 207 Premier for my permanent pen because it has a squishy base which is easy on my fingers, but whatever pen works well for you, that's what you go with.

I have let's say 12 Uniball 207 Premier pens in the house now, because I have several with black ink and then a set of them with the rainbow of colors for various projects - red, green, purple, and so on. So now that I own the "Uniball 207 Shell" for those pens, I never have to buy shells any more. I only have to buy ink.

This leads to three separate problems.

Black Refills for Uniball 207 Pens
Insanely, if you try to buy a refill - just the tiny inside narrow tube with ink - for a Uniball 207 pen it costs $2 a refill. In comparison, you could buy literally an entirely new Uniball 207 pen (granted the cheap kind) for $1. So you are paying twice as much to get just the inner refill. Does that make any sense at all? It makes no sense to me. I did finally find that BJs offers the refills for $1. So for the extra hassle of going to BJs to deliberately get the refill, you can pay just as much for that refill as you would for an entire pen containing the refill. Still, it means you don't bring waste into your house that you then have to deal with.

Colored Refills for Uniball 207 Pens
At least with black there is an option to get refills. With the colored pens there are NO options to buy refills. You must buy an entire new pen set with the six colors within those pens. Since the pen set has cheap barrels that I don't want to use, it means I now have - once I've stripped out the inside ink - the remaining pen barrel, the spring, and the plastic cap.

Empty Pen Refill of Used Pen
All of this also gets added to the actual empty refill of the pen I was using that just ran out. So I have to do something with that empty pen cartridge.

So here's an example. I've just refilled some of my good Uniball 207 Premier pens with various colored inks, because the pens ran out. That leaves me with the shell, the spring, and the tip from the canibalized colored pen, plus the empty refill that came out of the Uniball 207 Premier that I had been using.

recycling pens

So you have the unused colored pen's outside barrel -

recycling pens

You have the inside ink holder that I finished using, now empty of ink -

recycling pens

You have the tip that holds the ink in place -

recycling pens

And then you have the spring that lets the pen retract when not in use.

recycling pens

All of this is now "excess".

Sure, you could try to recycle the springs and the plastic tip - those two pieces are fairly standalone. However the main base of the barrel is the worst and largest part. That is fairly substantial. So trying to recycle it piece by piece seems like it wouldn't work well.

So, thinking outside the box. I can get the plain black refills for $1 each at BJs and stick them into these pretty pen outsides. That then has me create fully functional new pens that are pretty. I then use a Sharpie style permanent magic marker to write something cute on it. I run a writing group so I made a set of pens for my writing group with our group name on it and a small flower. OK you can't see my writing very clearly, but use your imagination. You could instead use gold and silver pens to make the message stand out. Unfortunately right now my gold and silver pens are all dry :) I guess I have to buy some more of those too.

recycling pens

Yes it was $1 each to do this. But now my writing group members all have personalized mementos. I can bring the sharpie and have everyone sign each person's pen. Maybe the pens will help inspire people to write more stories.

I can do this for Christmas and other holidays too. Hopefully the people I give them to will keep the pens, buy the refills, and the only waste they will have will then be the inner empty refill tube that keeps getting run dry. So we are back to the problem of this refill tube.

Here is what you have:

recycling pens

So it separates out into the plastic tube that held the ink, and the delivery tip which is metal and plastic and hollow. There's also a tiny plastic plug in the tube, to keep the ink from coming out the "wrong end". You can see that plug at the very tops of the tube - it has been sucked down with use to be right up against where the ink ended.

Here are a collection of different ideas I have come up with so far for using the empty pen refill tube! Let me know if you have other ideas!

Empty Pen Refill Tube Uses
Single Bud Vase - Empty Pen Refill Craft
Sand Vacation Memory Holder - Empty Pen Refill Craft
Feng Shui Charms - Empty Pen Refill Craft


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