One of the appealing things about higher end pens to me, at least initially, was that I did not have to buy packs of pens from the office supply store, ever! I used to work in a client’s office where the boss thought that the Pilot G2 gel pen was a nice pen, and it is a reliable pen for the office. The G2 isn’t a big deal, but if you want a consistent writing experience and something nicer than a Bic pen, it’s pretty good. As Sarah from the Pen Addict wrote, the G2 is a pen that a lot of people are familiar with, and if you aren’t yet a pen addict, it might even be a favorite. In this client’s office, people would walk off with those G2 pens or conveniently leave them wherever. Sometimes you do need a few cheap pens, especially if you work in a place where members of the public walk in and need to sign a document. Same for some sharpened pencils. But if you have to write on paper or take notes by hand, why not use a nicer pen for your personal scribblings? Something that you like, customizable to your needs, in an ink color that you love or a pen body that suits your style.
Before I was using fountain pens as regularly as I do now, I did have a few refillable pens in my rotation, a Cross ballpoint (think graduation gift) that had the seal of my undergraduate university and a Parker Jotter ballpoint. Once or twice per year, I would buy 3-4 refills, which would last awhile, and I had the satisfaction not having to buy more pens out of necessity because I always had my reliable refillable pens. Then at some point, I bought the Retro Tornado Classic lacquer pen (it’s the pink ballpoint in the picture). This pen takes both rollerball and ballpoint pen refills.
When I got back into fountain pens some years ago, one of the allures was refilling ink from a bottle, not having to toss a refill. You can refill vintage pens, write with an 80+ year old pen and have pretty good results in 2022. However, many vintage pens that are offered for sale have been restored. The whole idea of having pens with a purpose that I could use for years resonated.
There’s some data on this blog that says that Americans throw away 1.6 billion pens per year (the link to the EPA page is broken), but I don’t have reason to doubt this number. So much plastic ends up in landfills, in the ocean, and is not recyclable. According to this blog, the plastic barrels that many disposable ball point pens are made of is produced from an inferior and toxic type of plastic resin. The small plastic parts in disposable pens can end up in waterways and eaten by marine life and other animals. In California, where I live, there have been many efforts to ban single use plastics and certain plastic packaging, some of which have been successful. Furthermore, Black and Brown communities have been disproportionately impacted by plastic pollution.
If we can reduce the amount of plastic that gets tossed by switching to refillable pens, why not give it a shot? I understand that this might not work in all situations, but in many circumstances, just having the availability of a refillable pen in your pocket, backpack, or purse is part of moving away from the reliance on a disposable pen. In offices, strings, chains, or lanyards could even be used to discourage people from walking off with a refillable pen that might cost just a bit more than the Pilot G2. Speaking of G2, those gel refills are easily accessible and fit into so many different brands of nice looking pens. If you wanted to continue to use the G2 in another Pilot pen, check out the Pilot Metropolitan rollerball. Or if you want to use the G2 refills in a higher end, machined pen, check out Tactile Turn. You don’t have to keep buying the boring, plain plastic pen bodies. We can reduce the amount of plastic that ends up in landfills by taking the same steps a lot of us already do by using refillable water bottles, declining plastic utensils for takeout, and by lessening our reliance on disposable pens. You could even buy a used refillable pen from any of the pen swap/sale sites. You will end up having a nicer writing experience and a more aesthetically pleasing pen when you stop buying disposable pens.