Saturday, May 1, 2010

what if you COULD recycle markers and pens?

We went out and bought Kiernen some new colored pencils today because recently a lot of his markers had run out. I was sort of pushing for colored pencils instead because I really didn't want to buy markers again, because they couldn't be recycled, that I knew of. All those markers - 5 hundred million a year, and that's just Crayola. What about Sharpie? What about Rose Art? The generic brands? And then what about ink pens???

While we were in the store, I noticed that Papermate is making a new line of biodegradable pens. On the box it says: "Biodegradable components are made from exclusive corn-based material." It also says they take about a year to biodegrade in the compost, and that they can in fact be composted. It's a step in the right direction in my mind - finding other solutions that allow them to continue to make their product. Here in Canada a four pack of these pens runs about $6.

When we got home, I noticed that the wood in the colored pencils we bought is not from rainforests, but in fact from reforested wood. Sustainable? I'm not really sure, but it's better than rainforest wood, which is where Kleenex gets its materials from for paper towels and toilet paper. I decided to write to Crayola and appreciate that effort, and to ask them to go even further. I asked them to find ways to make markers that were sustainable and/or biodegradable like Papermate had. I also asked them to use recycled packaging for all of their products.

Once I'd done that, I Googled "how to recycle markers" and I came upon this fantastic blog entry that led me to Terracycle. And do you know what? You CAN recycle markers, and ink pens, and sharpies, and and and! One of their projects is called the Writing Instruments Brigade. Since it is sponsored by Sharpie and Papermate, these are the only ones listed that they will take, but it seems that really they'll take them all. They even have international sites - like Canada!

The way Terracycle works is they collect trash from you, for which they pay .02 cents per item, to go towards the charity, school, or organization of your choice. So if you've got a school, you can get the whole school in on this thing. Win-win! I'm going to do this with my cohousing community - maybe some of the kids here can take it to their schools. If you're lookin g for which charity to support, Charity Navigator is a great website that rates charities on a variety of factors, and makes every charity transparent - including what their CEOs are paid.

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