recycle used pens

Heading to your local bank or any sort of street fair tends to have one giveaway: Free Pens! And who doesn’t need writing supplies – even in this digital age?

Yet a few ‘free’ pens can stack up to a pile of half-full, glutenous answer to the mighty pen-or-sword  debate.

Which brings us to our Where Can I (Wednesday) question:

Where can you recycle used pens?

I asked one of the managers at Waste Management in Philadelphia, who told me this:

Pens/highlighters would be acceptable if the internal felt (textile) and/or ink residue could be removed (which unfortunately isn’t practical).

So what else can you do to recycle used pens?

  • Terracycle has a writing instrument brigade. The only downside is that you need to collect at least 7 lbs of pens, highlighters or more before dropping them in your PO box. However, I have a feeling an office, school or neighborhood collection wouldn’t take too long…
  • Limit your use in the first place – decline freebies like We Hate to Waste.
  • The Pen Guy turns your (any type of) used writing instruments into art. Send ‘em to: The Pen Guy – P.O.Box 994 – Forestville, CA 95436

I also asked the Pen Guy himself (aka Costas Schuler) a few questions about turning his pens into masterpieces.

Green Philly Blog: First thing first: Why use recycled pens?

Costas Schuler: The idea to use pens just came to me one day. I woke up one day and the idea was just there in my mental inbox, so to speak. I went online and did some research to see if there was any one else that had done the same thing and was surprised that no one had, so I went with it. It was great because I knew everyone had pens lying around that they wouldn’t mind giving them away, it was perfect:)

Green Philly Blog:  Have you seen anywhere that CAN recycle them?

Costas Schuler: There are only a few types of pens that CAN be recycled and the only place I know of is TERRACYCLE. There are so many types of pens and types of plastic that unfortunately no ones has cracked the code yet.

Green Philly Blog: Have you been to Philly before?

Costas Schuler: Not yet:)

Green Philly Blog: Did you ever think your kleptic habit for pens would gain notoriety? (jokes.)

Costas Schuler: First of all, the pens were received by permission. :-) And no, I had no idea my project would be such a hit. There is something very magical about seeing thousands of pens in one spot especially glued to a car. I believe the reason why people react so strongly is because everyone has seen pens and know what they are but they have never seen them in this way. There is a mental sonic boom that happens in people and laughter is the resulting sound effect.


Readers, are you drowning in pens? What do you do to recycle used pens?


Photo: The Pen Guy

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