Archive for February, 2009

Waste not, want not, or, the case for the corporate crayon

A few years ago, the fancy office supply mail order outfit, Levenger, offered colorful wooden pencils as a type of highlighter, in colors like yellow, light pink, and bright green. (It still offers them.) This gave me the idea of finding cheaper, less wasteful alternatives to the highlighter–which quickly dries up, and must be tossed soon after being used (which is quite frequently). However, as I have issues with pencil sharpeners, the wooden pencil-style highlighter was not going to be in my future.

Art supply stores like Plaza were my hunting grounds for the anti-highlighter when, voila! The lowly watercolor crayon, particularly the Karat Aquarell, turned out to be perfectly suited to be America’s next top highlighter–with no sharpening needed. It offers good coloring of white paper without bleeding through, yet is transparent, allowing the text to show. Also important is its smooth gliding on a variety of paper types, from regular copy paper to glossy paper. Of course, you can decide how faint or how bright you wish to highlight a certain portion of text with the watercolor crayon, unlike a highlighter,which only allows you to color with the same intensity all the highlighted text.


Watercolor crayons last a nice long time, and the only waste involved in its use is in periodically peeling off bits of the paper encasing them.

To strike a sophisticated pose before and after using such them, simply hold one as you would a pen or pencil.

For less than $2 each, these watercolor crayons (a.k.a. highlighter alternatives) save all kinds of green!


Flat-out beautiful…on LCD monitors

Talk about your win-win situations; not only are LCD (the flat screen) computer monitors smaller than the (formerly more common) CRTs, they also use less energy, according to EnergyStar. Now that the LCD monitor prices are comparable to those of the CRTs, there’s no reason not to treat yourself, if you’re in the market for a new monitor.

Of course, there are  aesthetic and quality-of-life considerations to choosing an LCD over a CRT. There’s the “ooh” factor–a big one. The LCD is sleek, stylish, and beautiful. However, while the monitor is less bulky, the LCD has more actual screen space, while using less desk space! (And displays a more beautiful picture to boot.)

There’s also the “aah” factor–less bulk. In fact, LCDs are not heavy. This is a great relief when it comes to arranging your workspace ergonomically, because the LCD’s lightweight profile means that you can arrange your area so that it’s the most comfortable for everyday use. And now that moving your monitor around won’t give you a hernia, you’re more likely to arrange your area in a more healthful manner. For instance, with my old CRT, while I could theoretically move my monitor to an angle that caused less visual strain, actually moving it in any way was a chore. Not like so:


You can pivot the LCD to whatever angle you need, and also easily prop it on top of something level, if you need to raise its profile. No more  forklifts needed!

* * *

The only thing left after purchasing your LCD monitor is to safely dispose the CRT, preferably by recycling with a company such as Turtle Wings if you’re in the Baltimore-Washington area.

Being green has never been easier, on the body or on the pursestrings!

(Above photos are views of the Dell SE178WFP flat panel monitor.)

Silky! (Staples Eco-Friendly Writing Pads, that is…)

The paper for these lined writing pads is composed primarily (80%) of bagasse, which is sugar cane waste, according to the Encyclopaedia Britannica. Much like its textile counterpart, rayon, it makes a smooth final product. How smooth? Well, both pen (ink gel, of course) and pencil glide across this paper.


I first purchased a pack when it was first introduced in August, in time for the back-to-school sales, and it was $1.99 for a two-pad pack, 50 sheets per pad of letter size paper. What a pleasant surprise, as this paper is bright, smooth, and lined on both sides! In addition to being inexpensive, its smoothness makes it ideal for drafts and brainstorming sessions, because it allows you to cleanly erase pencil marks, making its re-use a practical proposition. This bagasse paper is higher in quality than most writing pads, even, sadly, most recycled ones.

Finding the paper in stores is dicey, but it’s available online from Staples. (It’s even on sale this week for $9.99 for a pack of 12 pads. Depending on the rewards plan you’re on, you may also qualify for free shipping.)

These bagasse writing pads would be a guilty pleasure, if their use and manufacture were not so environmentally responsible!

(Nice to see that the folks at the Fountain Pen Network agree that this bagasse paper is boss!)