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Recently my company gifted its employees personalized ballpens in an elegant case marking the 5th anniversary of the firm. Immediately I recalled the famous remark from the movie “Three Idiots”, when the professor proudly narrates the invention story behind the ball pen and our protagonist from the film could not resist asking, “Why did the astronauts not use a pencil, and went all the way to invent the ball pen as an answer to the fountain pens?” – It was indeed a very interesting point he raised, as it directly coincides with the line of thought preached, followed, and praised in today’s world. Nevertheless, let’s keep that aside for now, and return to the story, so the next moment I stood saying to myself, Oh no, not a ball pen please. I have stopped using ball pens completely since a few months, and possessing one now intrigued me to peek into the intricacies of the modern disposable pen.

The disposable ball pen is formed of either plastic or metal. The body plastic is mainly hardened plastic or different varieties of metals. The refill though a plastic is more elastic in nature and the ballpoint is made up from brass metal or like-wise.

As tiny and innocuous as it may seem, the present day “Pen” or the “Ball Pen” surely possess enough power to kill. If we safely consider alone India’s estimated usage of pens, it stands around 1500-2500 million pens per year, out of which 70% account for ball pens. On an average a person ends up consuming a dozen pens an year. Multiply it over a lifetime and extend it to number of literates in India and world over. It would sky-rocket.

These disposable pen are used and discarded, sometimes when the ink is exhausted and at times when they still have life, but out of habit, convenience and carelessness the used/unused pen are thrown everywhere from office desk drawers, garbage bags, sideways etc . Once thrown, its recycling is a lesser-known truth due to the varieties in its composition, from tiny pieces of metals, different types of plastics that requires distinct processes of recycling depending on the nature of the material and type, this eventually makes it economical unviable. The ultimate destination of this cheap and convenient commodity is again landfills and eventual pollution of Earth matter.

Alternates to these pens are huge and one can consciously examine his/her usage and make the change. Pencils, Fountain pens, buying refills for pens and not discarding pens that can be refilled. Importantly valuing the cheap valuable, you will be surprised to know but fountain pens can last generations. The nibs almost never wear out when used normally during a person’s lifetime. I have a silver color 8-year-old fountain pen, still running and now I plan to make it history :).

References here