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.

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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!)

The Pilot G2 pen–environmental ninja!

What’s green about the bestselling gel ink pen line, the Pilot G2 (particularly since Pilot has introduced a “green” counterpart, the BeGreen line , composed of mostly recycled material)?

 

For one, the G2 is widely available, at most drug stores and office supply stores, which is where most people purchase it (or any other) writing utensil. Important features are that the covering to its ink barrel is transparent (allowing you to see how much ink remains), the ink writes smoothly, the pen is easily refillable, the pen has a clip (which keeps it from rolling away from you and getting lost—more waste) and works consistently—no more inoperable pens junking up a drawer or pen cup with a few G2s on hand!

 

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Moreover, the G2 is a reasonable price, just slightly more expensive than the throwaway (Bic) pens. Also, the inexpensive refills are widely available, making owning a G2 cheaper overall. To refill a G2, just twist the pen open, take out the empty ink barrel, place the new ink chamber inside, then twist pen to close.

There’s even a more “professional” version, the G2 Limited, which has a metal clip (yay—the clip is my only quibble with the G2, as it can break, being brittle plastic). However, it would appeal to me if it had a thick glass encasing instead of the brushed metal look, to keep it transparent. (I’d still like to see the ink, even in a fancy pen.)

 

I’m mystified as to why the Pilot company didn’t simply manufacture its G2 line with an increasing percentage of recycled material, and flaunt that fact on its packaging, instead of creating a new product line. The existence of a new platform to add to what was already an environmentally friendly product seems the opposite of green thinking (at least in the environmental sense).

 

Nonetheless, the G2 kicks derriere, which makes it an environmental ninja in the best sense!

Dell 948 all-in-one printer

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One green product that’s great for home use is Dell‘s 948 all-in-one printer, because it’s also a copier/scanner/fax.

I like the printer because it’s not difficult to set up and use. What makes the machine green include its manufacturer, which has upgraded its recycling program, and which participates in Staples’ ink recycling program (which offers great incentives to recycling by turning in ink cartridges back to Staples for them to be recycled, which gets you $3 in rewards points per cartridge!).

As the 948 is for home/small office use, it’s not a space hog, thankfully. I don’t use its fax feature much, however, as the faxes I send out are usually small enough to be handled via an Internet fax service such as faxzero.

The truly green aspect of the 948 is that it saves trips and paper, meaning that you save petroleum–any time you conserve resources, you’re conserving petroleum, because practically everything synthetic is made from petroleum), as well as saves time. For instance, the scanning feature allows you to scan and save in such popular formats such as .jpg and .pdf, which comes in handy–I’ve often scanned flyers and notices, and e-mailed them to others, saving paper, ink, and wear and tear! The scanner also works rapidly, another plus. This feature also enables me to cut down on the number of copies that I print out, conserving even more petroleum, in that it saves ink.

The print feature settings are quite clear, and it’s easy to choose two-sided printing, which saves massive amounts of paper. (Keeping the print preview icon at the top of my browser, and using it before printing anything also saves paper and ink.)

My only quibble is the print setting default is “shrink to fit,” so you must use print preview before printing to set the text size to 100%, so that the text you print is actually large enough to read!

What is green?

Many of the things we use every day, or versions of them, can be considered “green,” or environmentally friendly.

Criteria for a green product should include first and foremost, quality–no product can be considered green which quickly breaks or tears, and/or which does not work well, for all too soon, it will need to be recycled (if that’s even possible) or simply tossed. Quality is an environmental issue!

Other green criteria can include whether a product’s container is easy to empty (particularly in the case of food or cosmetic products), whether easy to refill if supposedly refillable, or whether the packaging inspires “wrap rage.”

The manufacturing process and the sourcing can be green if made with organic and recycled materials, such as is the case with furniture manufacturer Herman Miller (maker of the Aeron chair), but these cannot always be the primary criteria for considering a product to be green, for the production of some product lines is more environmentally intensive than others (though there’s always room for improvement).

Many products are not hawked as being green, but by virtue of being durable (thus significantly reducing waste) or having minimal packaging, are green by default. Also, a product may be green if its use saves a significant amount of energy, which often translates to noticeable monetary savings as well.