Sunday, October 20

The startup that is making us (th)ink again the next time we reach for a plastic pen

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It is no secret that leading a healthy, sustainable lifestyle is a buzzy topic around the world. Talk about the latest wellness and conscious-living trends overwhelm the chatter in gyms, cafes, and local boutiques. But now it’s about time such discussion hits the office space.

Paper Pens Co. puts plastic pen users to shame, offering an eco-friendly writing utensil made out of recyclable and biodegradable paper. The pen itself is a beautiful, gel ballpoint pen that is just as stylish as it is sustainable. Why not turn every signature into a simultaneous pledge to live a green life? 

If you think about it, the amount of plastic pens around the world is unfathomable. They are everywhere, lying low as an army of pollution-propagators. They gather in throngs in the little containers at the doctor’s office or school registrar, they sink to the bottom of purses and backpacks, and they tuck away deep in the infamous “miscellaneous drawer” that we all not-so-secretly have. Rallying all of these inky soldiers together would result in heaps of plastic – all of which is completely unnecessary, since there is a much more ecological option.

Research has indicated a large share of global waste is due to what has been classified as “mismanaged waste,” which is litter and all items that have not been properly disposed of, but rather are accumulating in uncontrolled landfills. Much of the material that composes this collection of waste is plastic. In fact, during the 2017-18 year Australia used 3.4 million tonnes of plastics, but only recycled the equivalent of 9.4% of that consumption. And, much of that plastic production could be replaced with alternative options that have less of an environmental impact. 

Each of Bic’s ballpoints require five grams of oil to be produced, which adds up when you’re selling millions each year. Not to mention the tons of greenhouse gases that are pumped into the environment. While the United States is the leading contributor of carbon dioxide emissions, the entire globe is responsible for reversing our human footprint. If the current trends continue and we keep producing products that release greenhouse gases, Earth will continue to experience an abnormal rise in temperature. As we inch closer and closer to the limit of warmth that the planet can sustain, the human race’s future seems more and more dependent on reducing the amount of plastic that is manufactured. That’s why it is critical that people begin to make conscious swaps, like choosing Paper Pen Co. over the generic, plastic pen. 

Some studies predict that it takes polyethylene, the material that most plastic pens are made from, 500 years to decompose. That’s nearly seven times the average human life expectancy. Paper, which can be recycled like that of Paper Pen Co.’s products, has a much lower decomposition time of only two to five months. So even though you should be managing your waste responsibly and properly disposing of it, if you did happen to let a paper product find its own fatal fate, it would not take nearly as much time before it became completely a thing of the past. 

There may be a large amount of existing plastic pollution that needs to be dealt with, but luckily we have the power to do our part to ensure there is less mismanaged and wasted plastics entering the environment in the future. Paper pens are one easy step in committing to work towards a more eco-conscious lifestyle, since each purchase equates to preventing nearly five grams of plastic from entering the landfill. 

So next time you go to sign that receipt or write that letter to mum, you better be reaching for your new, trendy paper pen. Because nowadays plastic pens aren’t cool.

Paper Pens Co. was a recent finalist in the University of Sydney’s Premier $25,000 startup competition; Genesis. The next round is now open: sydney.edu.au/business/genesis

Author: Alannah Paren

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