blog Image for Refillogy: A Revolution in Renewability

Refillogy: A Revolution in Renewability

One of the many things we’ve learnt on our journey to reducing the environmental impact of our practices and products is that, when it comes to sustainability, it’s always better to reuse than to recycle.   

This is because recycling is an energy-consuming procedure which requires existing materials to undergo a process in order to become raw materials. Reuse, however, provides a sustainable alternative which lessens demand on our natural resources while reducing various forms of pollution. 

Refillogy.com

This led us to develop Refillogy.com: a comprehensive solution to disposable commodity items which ensures safety and transparency for the end user. When it comes to writing instruments, the best form of sustainability is to achieve multiple uses from the same pen, and for this a refill replacement service is an absolute necessity and something we’re happy to facilitate via our new domain.

Our long-life refills offer a sustainable solution to your writing needs by transforming a traditionally single-use item into one that can be reused time and time again. Our refills last much longer and need to be replaced less frequently than their supposedly ‘jumbo-sized’ alternatives, because many jumbo refills are in fact not filled all the way to the top with ink. In what might be considered a closely guarded secret of the industry, most jumbo refills only contain ink in the capillary section rather than the chamber itself. The weight of pens with jumbo refills actually comes from the plastic components within the pen – not from the ink. Believe it or not, there is usually far more ink in a thinner refill than a jumbo refill, with most jumbos only providing around 500 metres of writing length versus the 800-1500 metres provided by standard refills and upto 3,000 metres provided by metal Parker refills! 

We’re proud to offer long-life refills that are both true to their name and thoroughly tested in-house to ensure we’re providing the best quality product possible. What’s more, our refills are filled with high-quality German Dokumental® ink for a smooth, even writing experience which outlasts other available refill options. Because the ink in our refill selection is indelible to ISO12757-1+2, it will last an incredibly long time when applied to the page and will not fade or perish over time.

To use the Refillogy online refill service, simply visit www.refillogy.com and enter the serial number printed on the side of the refill into the search bar on the homepage. You will then be presented with the correct refill(s) for your particular pen, which you can then select to order. 

Writing Instrument Recycling Program: Creating More Ways to Recycle

We’ve also partnered up with the Writing Instrument Recycling Program: a nationwide scheme in which waste pens, pencils and various stationery items can be recycled completely free of charge at various drop-off locations across the country.

The scheme also offers TerraCycle reward points for all recycled waste over 15kg, which can be redeemed with any school, charity or non-profit organisation of the location supervisor’s choice. One TerraCycle Point is worth £0.01.

The Writing Instrument Recycling Program accepts any brand of pen, highlighter and marker pen, as well as all forms of correction fluid or tape. Currently not accepted are glue sticks, erasers, rulers and other cutting objects, as these may contaminate the recycling process.

To find your nearest public drop-off location, please visit
http://pens.uk/Jnl1ob.

Tree Nation Planting Initiative

We’ve also teamed up with Tree Nation to introduce a tree planting initiative when purchasing selected products, including metal pens such as the Mood® Collection Ballpen.

Whenever you notice the tree symbol throughout our product range, a percentage of sales from the order of that product will be donated to planting trees across the globe. This helps to effectively offset CO₂ emissions while preserving the environment and enhancing biodiversity. With over 300 species of plants, the work of Tree Nation actively tackles deforestation, reduces greenhouse gas emissions and improves air quality for a cleaner, greener future.

Tree Planting Initiative Symbol

Find out more about the work of Tree Nation here.

In Summary

We consider Refillogy to be something of a ‘full circle moment’ when we look back at our sustainability journey so far. Although we’re by no means finished examining our processes and business practices in the pursuit of reducing our environmental impact as much as possible, our study of sustainability has allowed us to offer a service that tackles a key issue while offering a safe and practical solution.  

Refillogy helps us and our customers implement a system of circular economy, eliminating waste and the continual use of our natural resources. The service also brings awareness to the idea of conscious buying and makes us think more carefully about purchasing products for long term (or even better – life-long) use, rather than opting for products which are designed to be disposed of after a brief lifespan.

We’ve got a long journey ahead of us and so many more topics to tackle and processes to redefine, but Refillogy gives us an anchor from which to offer our customers sustainable options, raise awareness and encourage conscious buying. 

Join the refill revolution, and let Refillogy help you achieve real sustainability through the power of reuse. 

Download a condensed version of this blog post for use in your own marketing collateral here.

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Environment Bill Update

Back in October 2019, EcoSense reported on the proposed Environment Bill and what it means for businesses in the promotional merchandise sector going forward.

The bill, which seeks to protect our country’s natural landscapes and overcome the most crucial environmental issues of our time, was presented for first reading in the House of Commons and must proceed through several further readings before it can be ratified into law.

During the first reading, the targets of the bill were outlined via plans and policies to improve waste and resource efficiency, air quality and biodiversity, along with conservation efforts and the regulation of chemicals. The bill will also ensure that any products which fail to meet environmental standards are subject to immediate recall. 

Today, 26 February 2020, marks the Second Reading of the Environment Bill at the House of Commons, giving MPs the opportunity to debate the key principles and purposes of the bill. When the debate concludes, it will be decided whether or not the bill will be allowed to proceed onto the committee stage, where each aspect of the bill will be debated in detail and any proposals for change can be offered for consideration.

Because we are committed to the constant review of our business operations and product offering, we’ll be keeping a close eye on the development of the Environment Bill and providing regular updates on any progression as it passes through the various stages towards ratification. Businesses should be aware that they may need to implement changes once the bill comes into effect, and we will provide information on how we will  align practices and products to make sure these laws are being followed.

Our Changes 

There are key areas that the Environment Bill looks to cover and we have detailed below a few examples of the changes we’ve made in those areas so far to reduce our carbon footprint and waste output within the supply chain. Why not see if there is anything we’re doing that you can use in your own business practices? We’re definitely not experts in sustainability, but we’re figuring it out along the way as part of our journey and we want you all to be involved in the process. Once the Environment Bill is in place, it will apply to all members of the public and professional sectors, so it’s best to start giving it some thought now so you’re prepared for any changes that need to be made ahead of time.

 

Reduce Waste 

  • All individual bins in our head office and warehouse spaces have been replaced with communal bins with separate compartments for paper, plastic and general waste so that each material can be sorted ready for recycling.  
  • We reuse our goods-in boxes to package outgoing stock and any cardboard that cannot be reused is shredded and used as padding. This not only cuts back on the waste we create, but also reduces the need to recycle and saves energy.
  • All paper towels in our staff toilets have been replaced with energy efficient dual airblade dryers to cut down on energy consumption and waste. 
  • We donate any stock that does not meet our quality control standards to local schools or charities to ensure the products are put to good use and kept out of landfill. We recently had a charity sale and raised over £200 from stock no longer being used. 

Improve Resource Efficiency 

  • By researching alternative product materials, we’ve been able to expand our collection to include environmentally friendly alternatives to plastic like wheat straw, wood, bamboo and recycled plastic and paper.  This reduces the strain on the natural resources needed to make traditional product materials and instead lets us utilise sustainable resources that are more easily renewable. 
  • We’ve switched from plastic to biodegradable paper packaging for all of our samples in an effort to cut down on single use plastics. We’ve also requested that all suppliers from the Far East use this tape on their packaging.  This is another step toward ongoing improvements to sustainable business practices and the company is keen to harness the many advantages of paper products to send an unambiguous message to the consumer. 
  • LED lighting is used throughout our premises, with sensory lighting in place for areas that are not used frequently.  
Sustainable features in our new HQ


Biodiversity 

  • Our Research and Development department has been busy testing the environmental claims of ‘green’ products such as bioplastics, which many manufacturers claim to be compostable in domestic facilities. Some even say you can place end of life bioplastics directly into the ground to biodegrade. Such bold statements of course need thorough investigation, as it would be irresponsible to discard of anything without knowing the possible implications of doing so. Read more about the environmental impact of bioplastics here
  • The past few installments of EcoSense have focused on the environmental end of life impact of promotional products and have offered tips on how to reduce this impact through conscious buying and proper disposal methods. 
  • Switching from plastics across our packaging means we also contribute less to plastic that ends up in the environment, having a detrimental effect on wildlife.

Regulation of Chemicals 

  • Across our site, we’re investing in new ways to reduce our use of chemicals. This includes the use of new solventless technology and the use of alternative, eco-friendly options wherever we can.
  • All the chemicals we use in-house are from REACH compliant suppliers. REACH is legislation which is aimed at protecting both the environment and human health through the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals. As part of this, it is essential to produce risk assessments and safety data sheets for chemicals, so users like us know exactly what to do to protect both our employees and the environment, from preventative measures to emergency actions. REACH guidelines and restrictions are regularly updated too, which means we always have to ensure we’re on the ball when it comes to knowing what we need to do! This includes making sure all our chemicals are still safe and free of restricted chemicals. We’re making sure that this information is available to everyone in-house with informational posters across the site! REACH will be an area that the Environment Bill covers in detail.
  • We recycle many of the solvents we do use in-house, making sure that we consume less as a company! 
  • Chemicals are stored separately from the main production area in specialised containers to prevent accidental spillage or contamination of the environment.
  • Our water output is regularly tested to ensure that nothing is entering the water stream that shouldn’t be, protecting both people and the environment.

Air Quality 

  • Our field sales representatives are provided with the latest technology to ensure their vehicles are as environmentally friendly as possible.
  • Having everyone together in our new HQ means that there’s less vehicle trips to and from our different sites! 
  • Air conditioners throughout our sites are set to specific times, ensuring they’re not wasting energy.
  • Air inside the factory is regularly tested to make sure our staff also experience the right air quality.

Summary 

Sustainability is a team effort and achieving it in a long lasting, meaningful way is far easier without having to navigate baffling technical jargon or legislation which you’re not even sure even applies to you or your business! That’s why we want to make it a bit easier and more digestible by sifting through the noise and delivering the facts. After all, if you can understand it, you can attain it, and as the Environment Bill states, we’re all going to need to work together to reach the goals that preserve our future. Be sure to check in with EcoSense over the next few months as we track the progress of the Environment Bill and offer simple advice on how to protect and enhance our environment and precious natural resources in accordance with the bill.

You can read more about the Environment Bill here:

Environment Bill 2019 – 2021

Government Introduces Ground-Breaking Environment Bill

What’s The Government’s New Environment Bill?

The Environment Bill

Environment Bill Moves Forward

blog Image for The Pen for Life™: Sustainability Rewritten

The Pen for Life™: Sustainability Rewritten

Regardless of your particular stance on sustainability, the bottom line is that it’s in all of our long-term interests to cut down on non-recyclable waste and preserve our natural resources. 

This is especially pressing when we consider the tens of millions of plastic pens sold globally every day. In America, for example, there is a staggering 1.6 billion disposable pens discarded yearly (1) – which is a huge amount of plastic and metal components simply thrown into landfill.

The primary non-recyclable component of a pen is the ink refill or cartridge, which unfortunately has to go to landfill because the residual ink could contaminate an entire batch of recycled plastic. Despite the issue of sustainability forcing us to direct our attention to the future, the answer to this problem may actually be found by casting our gaze to the past…

Looking To The Past To Benefit The Future 

Long before the invention of the ballpoint pen came the fountain pen, but not as we know it today!  Early fountain pens worked in a similar fashion to a syringe, drawing ink from a bottle up into the pen itself with the use of a device commonly called a ‘converter’.

What makes the traditional refillable fountain pen the perfect environmentally friendly pen? Well, apart from requiring the odd top up with fresh ink, nothing else is used or disposed of. There are no empty cartridges to throw away, minimal mess and no risk of ink contamination as the cartridges are self-contained. 

While the sustainability factor of a refillable fountain pen was never a motivation amongst the original models of the past, it is now a very welcome benefit when considering the preservation of the future. 

The Pen for Life™ is a delicate balance of design ingenuity and practicality, with hand-engraved accents to the barrel and plain upper parts for unrestricted branding or personalisation. Manufactured from brass and triple chromium plated (one of the most sustainable materials out there -read our blog on metals here), the Pen for Life™ promises superior, long-lasting performance that endures the test of time.

Refilling the Pen for Life™

Refillable converter unit


To refill the Pen for Life™ , simply use the included converter to pull ink from a bottle up into the chamber within the converter. Bottled inks come in a wider range of types and colours than cartridge inks, giving you greater opportunity to tailor your writing experience to your exact preferences.

Pen for Life™ : Care & Maintenance Tips

Just like a nice watch, a fountain pen is an investment which is built to last a lifetime. But, in order to get the best performance and ensure the product lasts as long as it should, a certain level of care and maintenance is required. When you take your watch in for a service, you can expect the product to be disassembled, cleaned, oiled and polished to make sure it’s operating to the best of its ability. The same applies to the fountain pen – it needs minimal but fairly regular maintenance to deliver the best performance and, perhaps most importantly, last as long as it should.

Follow the tips and tricks below to give your fountain pen the love it deserves and it will repay the favour with a lifetime of use!

1.   About once a month, remove the cap of your fountain pen and flush the cartridge and nib under running water. Repeat two or three times to remove any accumulation of solid ink.

2.   For converter fountain pens, fill a glass with water and insert the end of the converter into the water. Then, pull water up through the converter a few times until the water runs clear.

3.   Use a cloth to thoroughly dry the components of the pen, paying particular attention to the nib and any metal parts.

💡 Did you know…

If you regularly switch between different ink types and colours, be aware that these inks can interact with each other and cause excess build-up. Therefore, you might need to clean your pen a bit more than normal!

You should avoid storing your fountain pen for long periods of time with ink in the cartridge / converter, as this can cause the ink to solidify and compromises the performance of the pen.

You can take your fountain pen to a professional for nib and feed adjustments! This ensures long life and consistent performance while avoiding the need to throw the pen away if it becomes damaged in any way. A quick Google search should show fountain pen repair services near you, but we recommend a service like Pen Home: Vintage and Modern Pen Specialists who have been repairing vintage and modern pens for the past 25 years and are recommended by industry leaders such as Parker, Waterman and Sheaffer UK. Learn more at https://www.penhome.co.uk/pages/pen-repairs

Make Your Own Eco-Friendly Inks! 

While the Pen for Life™ is indeed a sustainable solution to your writing needs, its eco credentials can be enhanced further still with the use of an all-natural ink.

You can purchase natural ink bottles from a number of reputable suppliers, but why not make things a little more fun by creating your own at home? Once you’ve perfected your technique, you’ll never need to spend money on costly inks or unnecessary packaging again! Store your homemade inks in a glass bottle or container and make a new batch when you start to run out, filling up the glass bottle each time to create as little waste as possible. 

Here’s a couple of ideas to get you started:

Black Walnut Ink

You will need…

½ cup of dried walnut hulls

½  teaspoon Arabic Gum  

1 x cup water

Simply boil the walnut hulls in water for 30 minutes. Then, strain the hulls, add the Arabic Gum and whisk thoroughly. Once cooled, pour into a bottle with a lid and ensure the lid is tightly closed.

Avocado Stone Ink

You will need…

2 x avocado stones – the bigger the better!

1 x teaspoon sodium carbonate

½ teaspoon Arabic Gum

1 x cup water

Chop both avocado stones and simmer in water and sodium carbonate for 20 minutes. Drain the water and stir in the Arabic Gum until combined. Once cooled, pour into a bottle with a lid and ensure the lid is tightly closed.

Need more proof that fountain pens are fascinating…? Check out this great video by National Geographic to learn how expert Richard Binder keeps fountain pens in pristine condition with his unbelievable craftsmanship and mind-blowing knowledge!

In Summary

With care and correct maintenance, a fountain pen can last a lifetime without having to discard or replace any of the components. As we have discussed, even the ink can be sustainable with the use of a refillable / recyclable glass bottle and, when making your own ink or using an eco-friendly inks, you don’t need to worry about causing damage to the natural environment when disposing of it. That’s not to say we recommend pouring unused inks down the drain, however! It’s far better to sell or give the inks away to someone who can make use of them, such as members of a fountain pen group like www.fountainpennetwork.com.

The long-life design of the Pen for Life™ should serve as a source of inspiration for general consumerism moving forward. Its quality of craftsmanship, durable materials and sustainable operation prompts us to be conscious about our buying habits and to reject disposable product options which subscribe to the throw-away society we have created. No longer should we be content to consume and dispose: now, we must think carefully about the quality and longevity of what we spend our money on to reduce the end-of life environmental impact that we have been considering in previous editions of EcoSense. 

This, combined with a responsibility from manufacturers to provide sustainable products and care guides for ensuring optimum performance and lifespan, should help us effectively move away from disposable products and the environmental impact they bring with them. 

Extra Reading 

Learn more about fountain pens as a sustainable product option by clicking the links below! 

Why Fountain Pens Are Back

How Do You Dispose of Bottles of Ink?

Pen Maintenance

If You Haven’t Started Using Fountain Pens …

Zero Waste: Introduction to Fountain Pens

References

(1) http://www.wehatetowaste.com/disposable-pen/

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Metal Pens: An Accessible Recycling Option

In last week’s EcoSense, we continued to look at the end of life environmental impact of promotional products by delving into the ambiguous world of bioplastics. Today, we will shift our focus to a hugely popular material in the world of promotional pens and one that makes up a large percentage of our product offering: metal! 

We stock a wide variety of metal pens and pens with metal accents, so we feel it’s important to educate our customers on how best to recycle these products in order to create as little environmental impact as possible. 

First off, it’s worth noting that metal has a far greater potential for recycling than other types of material like bioplastics which, as we discussed in our last article, requires very specific industrial-scale facilities to effectively break down the material. 

💡Did you know ….

Almost all types of metal can be recycled at your local facilities? This includes:  

• Copper

• Aluminium

• Steel

Brass

• Zinc

• Tin

View the full sized image here

Although metal left in landfill behaves as most materials, lingering for centuries, according to the British Metals Recycling Association a massive 10 million tonnes of metal was recycled in the UK in 2018. Metal recycling is well established across the globe, which tells us that metal pens are a more realistic recycling option for the end user than bioplastics.   

Here at The Pen Warehouse, we have a number of metal pens made from Brass (Giotto Metal Ballpen), Steel (Cheviot Steel Ballpen) and Aluminium (Electra Touch Ballpen). So, let’s take a closer look at these materials!

The aluminium found in pens such as our Electra Touch Ballpen is the most recycled material out there. Recycling a tonne of aluminium saves 9 tonnes of C02 emissions – that’s the equivalent of driving nearly 3,000 miles! (1).

Steel is another widely recycled material made from Iron and Carbon. It can be 100% recycled and most steel used today contains at least 25% recycled material (2). Kerbside collection of steel is becoming increasingly common across the UK due to the ease of which it can be recycled.

Our brass (Copper and Zinc) pens can also be recycled, including those with chromium (3) plating such as the System™ 055 Ballpen. Almost all brass on the UK market is made from recycled brass, as the processes involved are much cheaper and less energy intensive than producing virgin brass (4).

Metal pens also provide a long-life product option that can be used for years and years before needing to be replaced. This adheres to the ‘3Rs’ (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) and encourages us as consumers to think long-term when buying products.  If you’ve found your perfect metal pen and you’re not ready to give it up quite yet, there’s always the option of replacing the refill. This is an even more environmentally friendly option!

The Benefits Of Recycling Metal

It creates jobs: Recycling metal not only benefits the environment, but also has positive economic effects, too. Given that the UK is one of the top five metal exporters in the world, the act of recycling metals on such a large scale creates a huge number of jobs within the recycle and refuse industry. The number of jobs created will only increase as we discover new ways to recycle existing materials! 

It helps the economy: Recycling offers another plus for the economy when it comes to mining for new metals. Common metals such as aluminium and silver come from ore: a natural rock which contains the necessary minerals to create metal. Extracting ore is a costly exercise and one that depletes our natural resources, so recycling offers a far cheaper alternative which also contributes to a circular economy (more on this subject here)

It does not take up farming land: It’s also worth noting that, much like the argument for bioplastic crops taking up space which could be used for growing food crops, landfill sites could also be put to better use as housing sites – or indeed as sites for growing natural food crops.  

It uses less energy: Up to 95% less energy is consumed in the recycling process compared to metals manufactured from virgin materials, for example. According to EU reports, use of recycled metals reduces CO2 emissions by an astonishing 200 million tonnes per year, while the use of recycled steel cuts air pollution by 86% and water pollution by 76% (5). 

The How: Recycling Your End-of-Life Metal Pens 

To recycle your metal pens or metal components from plastic pens, follow this helpful guide:

1. Remove all metal components from your pen.

2. Components such as the spring and nib can be recycled in your normal kerbside recycling bin.

3. If the barrel of your pen is coated, this can be recycled by most recycling sites and by Terracycle. (Read our previous blog on the end of life environmental impact of pens here).

In Summary

As we continue our study into the end of life environmental impact of promotional products, it becomes more and more apparent that prevention really is better than cure. If we can create a system where we’re continuously recycling old materials in a cost and energy effective way, then we will not need to rely so heavily on the Earth’s rapidly draining natural resources. Metal therefore creates a great opportunity for us to achieve this, as recycling uses less energy, less water and reduces carbon emissions when compared to the use of raw materials.

Metal is also a great option for creating durable, long life products which last the customer for years after purchase. Even when metal does reach the end of its product life, it’s widely recycled at domestic facilities and, in the case of aluminium, can be recycled a limitless number of times without losing its integrity.  

As with all of the materials we’ve considered so far, the key to reducing environmental end of life impact is education. Make sure your customers are armed with the correct disposal/recycling information necessary so that end of life becomes more synonymous with the end of that particular cycle of life, rather than the end of the product’s life altogether.

Further Reading

To read more about recycling metals to reduce their end of life environmental impact, we recommend checking out these articles: 

Metal Recycling Guide

What is the Metals and Mining Sector?

What Metals Can Be Recycled?

References

(1)https://www.leeds.gov.uk/docs/Metal%20Matters%20factsheet.pdf

(2) https://www.recycle-more.co.uk/why-recycle-/why-recycle-steel-

(3)https://www.silverteam-recycling.com/en/Business-areas/Non-ferrous-metals/Non-ferrous-metal-recycling

(4) http://www.skillmanmetal.com/chrome-plated-brass.html

(5)https://www.greenjobs.co.uk/british-metals-recycling-association.cms.asp


Please note: The EcoSense information series is protected by copyright and may not be reproduced or distributed without prior consent of The Pen Warehouse. To use EcoSense material for your own marketing, please contact marketing@pens.co.uk for permission.

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The End of Life Environmental Impact of Bioplastics

In the last installment of EcoSense, we looked at the end of life environmental impact of promotional pens, paying specific attention to plastic and bamboo. We examined how to properly recycle products made from these materials, and gave tips and tricks on ways to reuse plastic and bamboo pens to prolong their lifespan. Today, we’re moving on to bioplastics!

Whilst every step towards sustainability is indeed a positive one, some manufacturers claim the use of seemingly ‘green’ solutions which may not be quite as green as they seem… This can be seen with the increasing use of bioplastics: a plastic-like material fashioned from renewable biomass such as oils, vegetable fats, sawdust, recycled food waste and sometimes from used plastic bottles.

More and more industries are quick to utilise bioplastics in their own manufacturing processes, with the global bioplastic market projected to grow to almost $44 billion by 2022 (1). However, as with most new trends, we need to look to the future to confirm whether or not these new materials are in fact the real deal.

The green attributes…

The true “green” attributes of bioplastics mainly lay in their production, not necessarily in their entire life cycle.

  • Bioplastics manufacturing has a carbon footprint 75% lower than conventional plastics such as PET (plastic drinking bottles) and PS (fast food containers). In fact, substituting fossil-based polyethylene (PE) with bio-based PE would save more than 42 million tonnes of CO2 or 10 million plane flights around the world each year (2).
  • Bioplastics are generally made from plant raw materials such as corn starch instead of petroleum oil (a finite research) and are renewable.

And the not so green …

However, a study conducted by a group at the University of Pittsburgh found that, although bioplastics reduced the carbon footprint during production, they introduced greater amounts of other pollution such as pesticides and fertilisers into the environment (1).

Bioplastics also require extensive land use. In some cases, this land requirement results in deforestation (forest area still absorbs more CO2 than plants such as sugar and maize). A recorruring argument is that the land used for growing bioplastic crops could be put to better use growing food products (3).

When it comes to their end of life process, bioplastics are often championed for their biodegradable nature, with many manufacturers ensuring that products made from bioplastics are fully compostable. However, bioplastics require a specialised high-temperature compost environment in order to fully break down and will not biodegrade in commercial landfills or traditional compost bins. Many people simply do not have access to these facilities and may resort to disposing of their bioplastic waste in standard refuse or recycling points. Worse still, the misleading accolade of ‘fully compostable’ could lead people to discard bioplastic products such as pens directly into the environment, mistakenly believing that they will break down naturally.

Most bioplastics are disposed of in regular bins and will inevitably end up in landfills alongside the 6.3 billion metric tons of plastic waste we have accumulated globally since mass production of commercial plastics began – accounting for 79% of all landfill waste.  If bioplastic products are not disposed of in the correct manner and are placed in general plastic recycling facilities, their presence can contaminate any traditional plastics present and make those plastics unfit for recycling.

View full sized image here

Finding Other Uses for Your End-of-Life Bioplastic Products

Because bioplastics are not easily recycled, we recommend finding alternative uses for products that contain this material once they reach the end of their lifespan. Here’s a few fun and practical ideas to get the most use possible out of your bioplastic products!

Garden Markers – Poke your old, empty bioplastic pens directly into the ground to mark seedlings for a durable garden marker that will hold up in all weathers. As we know, there’s no risk of the pen decomposing in the ground!  

Plant Starter Sticks – Give your seedlings something to cling onto while they grow by removing the refill from your bioplastic pens and placing over the planted seed. Once growing starts, you can remove the pen to reveal strong and sturdy shoots!  

Fishing Lure – This is a great way to save money on costly fishing equipment! Simply empty the pen and add eyes and tail to mimic an insect. Then, watch as the fish jump on the line!  

Beads – Cut up old pens to make individual decorative beads. They can be painted and strung onto a piece of jewellery wire to create necklaces, bracelets and general craft items.  

Sprinkler Head – This is another great tip for our green-fingered readers. Pierce a plastic bottle and slot empty bioplastic pens into the holes, then attach a hose to the mouth of the bottle to distribute water around your garden.

In Summary

We’re all for seeking out new product innovations and eco-friendly materials in our quest to reduce our environmental impact. However, we also believe that, as manufacturers and consumers, we have a duty not to take everything we’re told on face value. When a new material enters the market claiming to boast a sustainable nature, we must conduct proper research to make sure those ‘green credentials’ check out.  

As we look in detail at the end of life impact of promotional products, it becomes more and more apparent that the key to establishing true sustainability lies with creating an effective circular economy (read more on this here) and by crafting products that are made to last.  

But how do we do this? 

With conscious product design, ethically sourced materials and regular assessments, we can create products that reject the throwaway culture of today and are instead built with longevity in mind. If and when a product does reach the end of its use, it’s important that the product can be recycled in the least energy-consuming way possible. Only then will we be able to use our natural resources in a continuous way without the worry of irreversibly depleting them.  

Extra Reading 

Interested in learning more about bioplastics and their end of life environmental impact? Here are some great articles which are perfect for brushing up on your knowledge!

What You Need to Know About Plant-Based Plastics

How Can the Environmental Impact of Bioplastics be Assessed?

Are Bioplastics Better for the Environment Than Conventional Plastics?

Bioplastics and Biodegradable Plastics

Bioplastic Recycling

References

  1. https://blogs.ei.columbia.edu/2017/12/13/the-truth-about-bioplastics/ 
  2. https://www.european-bioplastics.org/faq-items/do-bioplastic-have-a-lower-carbon-footprint-than-fossil-based-plastics-how-is-this-measured/ 
  3. https://phys.org/news/2018-12-bioplastics-necessarily-contribute-climate-mitigation.html

Please note: The EcoSense information series is protected by copyright and may not be reproduced or distributed without prior consent of The Pen Warehouse. To use EcoSense material for your own marketing, please contact marketing@pens.co.uk for permission.

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End of Life Product Cycle: The Environmental Impact of Promotional Products

Promotional products have long been a tried and tested marketing approach, making up a £17.7 billion market in the US and over £1 billion in the UK. However, as an industry with a large plastic consumption rate, there has been serious scrutiny over its environmental impact, particularly when many of the items are single use. Many products have a very limited lifespan, with the average writing instrument being kept for only 6 months before being thrown away (1).

Image result for number of months promotional items are kept

Here at Pen Warehouse, we’ve been doing some research on the end of life journey of promotional writing instruments, looking at plastic pens and how they compare with the eco alternatives on offer. 

Plastic Pens

Plastic pens make up a large bulk of promotional writing pens, likely due to the material being cheap, easy to print on and simple to produce in almost every requested colour imaginable.

The main material used is ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) but can also be HIPS (High Impact Polystyrene) or Polypropylene.  In some very expensive plastic pens, high quality acrylic is used. These materials make up the barrel and the main bulk of the pen. 

Refills are normally made from polyethylene, polypropylene or nylon tube.  The tips are normally made from brass. The balls are made from either stainless steel or tungsten carbide.  The inks inside the refill are made to a commercial formula but will comprise of solvent (to make it flow), resin (to make it stick) and pigment (to give it colour).

So what happens to all these materials? A recent study claims that of those asked in London, 15% admitted to throwing their pens straight into the rubbish (1). In reality, this is likely much higher. If we look in more detail, is this really the best way to dispose of them?

In fact, all parts of our plastic pens can be recycled! To make it even easier, there are schemes such as Terracycle (https://www.terracycle.com/en-GB/brigades/bic-uk) who take whole pens and dissassemble them for you! 

But what about eco products?

Bamboo Pens

Many of the materials that make up a bamboo pen are recycled in the same way as a plastic pen. Bamboo pens still use traditional refills and, more often than not, still have plastic or metal clips and tips! The big difference is the barrel. At the pre-manufacturing stage, this makes a significant impact on the eco-friendly nature of a pen. While plastics use oil as a raw material, bamboo is a sustainable resource – but what about their end of life differences?

Composting Bamboo

Many bamboo products claim to be compostable because after all, it’s just wood, right? But how long does it actually take to break down?

Reuse – Creative Bamboo Ideas! 

If you fancy doing something different with your bamboo pen after it’s been used, there are of course other more creative options!

  1. Garden Markers (https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/340866265519094744/?lp=true)
  2. Bamboo Mirror (https://www.blinds.com/blog/10-things-make-old-bamboo-blinds)
  3. Bamboo Pen Holder (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DzlJnSbv9cw)

Recycled Paper Pens

These pens have been around for decades, made from recycled paper with a plastic refill. Once again, the plastic refill can be recycled in the same way as a plastic pen refill. 

As for the barrel, simply put it into your normal paper recycling waste!

Summary

We all have a duty of care to our fellow humans, to future generations and indeed to the planet itself when it comes to sustainability.

That’s why we recommend giving serious consideration to the end of life impact of your products, examining what the main culprits are and how their overall impact can be lessened. Our advice to manufacturers is to take one of two approaches:

Either: Craft products with longevity in mind, using durable materials and high-quality production processes that allow your customers to use the product for years to come. Remember, it’s always better to reuse than recycle, so try to create products which facilitate this. 

Or: Where possible, create products which are easily biodegradable using sustainable materials such as bamboo, wood, glass and cork. Try to incorporate materials which are easily recycled into your products, like aluminium which is a closed-loop recycling process (no new materials are introduced during recycling). If the products you create cannot last forever, then look for ways to make them easily reabsorbed by the environment with as little impact as possible.   

As we are learning, designing products for eventual recycling is simply not enough in terms of commitment to sustainability and overall effectiveness. We need to work towards creating a circular economy (read more on this subject here) in order to truly eliminate waste, environmental impact and the depletion of our natural resources.  

This can be achieved through conscious design and manufacture, shifting our focus from the recycling of products to the production of well made, long lasting or easily biodegradable products right from inception. This, along with consistent assessments of the environmental risks and benefits of new product designs and identifying the best opportunities for product innovation and improvement, will help manufacturers to better understand the environmental impact of the products they are manufacturing.

To learn more about the environmental impact of end of life products and how to carry out your own product lifestyle assessment, visit these interesting websites: 

How to Undertake a Life Cycle Assessment of Your Products and Services

Product Life Cycle Assessment Shows True Environmental Impact

Finding A Greener ‘End Of Life’ For Wood

Environmental Impacts & Benefits of the End-of-Life of Building Materials

References

(1)https://www.fuelmerchandise.com/staying-power-of-promotional-products-cpi/

blog Image for Conscious Cleaning This Spring

Conscious Cleaning This Spring

We are IN! A new factory and a blank slate. As we put together policy and practice for our new HQ, it is now time for us to explore and adopt what we have learned so far in our sustainability journey – and this extends to our housekeeping. Some of these ideas we have adopted, some of them you can use at home and others we will aspire to use in the future. 

Before we impart our tips, research shows that cleaning can: 

  • Strengthen the immune system by reducing dust, mildew, mould and pet hair around the home   
  • Reduce stress and promote relaxation 
  • Increase productivity and help improve focus and mental clarity  
  • Encourage you to organise other aspects of your life and adopt good habits 

When adopted, a clean working environment will make for happier and more productive employees! 

Cleaning Products: Their Impact

Most commercial cleaning products are packed full of toxins like phosphorus and ammonia, which the Environmental Protection Agency deems as “volatile organic compounds.” These compounds often end up being washed down the drain or toilet and inevitably end up in our natural waterways, building up over time and having a detrimental effect on aquatic wildlife. Naturally, solvents are used during our production and cleaning process, and any waste or excess solvent is processed through our in-house distillation unit (see image below). This unit separates the solvents we use and other waste in a process similar to the one used to produce whiskey! This means we can re-use it again and again, reducing the impact of solvents on the environment through their production and transportation. We have scheduled a future EcoSense piece on this where we will show you the process in full.

Another drawback when it comes to the eco credentials of cleaning products is the cost (both financial and environmental) of transporting the products. Large-scale transportation methods like ships and trucks use vast amounts of fossil fuels, the combustion of which produces harmful gasses like nitrogen oxide which eventually leads to climate change.

And what about all that plastic packaging? Cleaning products are often sold in recyclable yet non-biodegradable packaging (read more about circular economy in our previous post here), which uses energy and creates harmful pollutants when recycled. When not recycled, the plastic simply builds up in landfills where it takes around 1,000 years to decompose – releasing toxic chemicals and affecting the environment all the while. We have written to all our suppliers requesting that packaging used can now be recycled, and this will be a requirement going forward for our supply chain.

So, what steps can you take to ensure conscious cleaning? 

Paper towels are a household staple, having been used in the kitchen since 1931 and in bathrooms since 1922, but the environmental impact of using them is huge! One study suggests that, to produce a tonne of paper towels, 17 trees are cut down and ~91,000 litres of water are consumed (2). We suggest scrapping those disposable towels (which are often non-recyclable) and picking up some reusable cloths or, better still, make your own from old towels or clothes.

Next, why not try making your own cleaning products from natural or non-toxic substances? This blog post from Friends of the Earth shows you how to make cleaning products from things like vinegar, essential oils, baking soda and lemon juice for different purposes – meaning you don’t have to spend excessive amounts on store-bought cleaners and you know exactly what you’re putting back into the environment. You may also find that switching to natural cleaning products helps your own health, as traditional chemical-laden products are known to exacerbate allergies and cause irritation to the skin and eyes. In fact, a study by the Environmental Working Group revealed that more than 50% of the 2,000 cleaning products it studied contained ingredients that irritate the lungs (1). Check out #diycleaningproducts on Instagram for more inspiration and some before and after photos!

Making your own cleaners also reduces the need to transport products via large shipment methods, which in turn reduces the use of fossil fuels and dangerous gas emissions. You can also reuse the same containers over and over again  – effectively slashing your use of plastic and reducing the amount of plastic which requires recycling or ends up in landfill.

What Are We Doing To Ensure Sustainable Spring Cleaning?

We’ve made a number of changes to improve the sustainability of our housekeeping:

  • We are getting our employees involved! A sustainability committee has been formed and everyone has a say – from our practices to our products.  We will share our objectives for this year when finalised later this month;
  • All individual bins have been replaced with communal bins that are separated into paper, plastic and general waste ready for recycling;
  • Goods-in boxes either package outgoing products or are used to archive, cutting down on waste and reducing the need to use energy to recycle;
  • Employees either have two screens or larger screens, which has cut down on printing paper when proofing;
  • Paper towels have been replaced with dual airblade dryers throughout all washrooms;
  • Stock that does not meet our quality control standards either makes its way to local schools and charities or the stationery cupboard. This means less mess for us and a purpose for products which would otherwise be disposed of;
  • Cardboard that cannot be reused is shredded and used as padding;
  • Our next step will be to work with a local zero waste shop for products, for now we use the Method cleaning range.  You can reuse all their bottles and buy bulk replacements liquids. 

Because the EcoSense series is all about sharing best practice to promote sustainability in a practical way, we’d love to hear your suggestions on how we can keep a clean and tidy workspace using eco-conscious methods. Please feel free to email your tips to ecosense@pens.co.uk

In Summary 

We hope we’ve given you some inspiration for sustainable spring cleaning which doesn’t require unnecessary chemicals or excessive use of non-renewable materials. It’s little steps like this which, when taken by everyone, make a big difference to sustainability and the preservation of our planet. To read more on eco cleaning, browse the further reading and take on the new year with a clean (and conscious!) slate.

Further Reading 

Want to learn more about eco-friendly cleaning? Take a look at these great blogs for top tips on spotless sustainability! 

10 Eco Friendly Spring Cleaning Ideas

Tips & Tricks To Make Spring Cleaning More Eco Friendly

Clean Greener This Spring

Environmental Impacts: Non-Biodegradable & Toxic Chemicals

Eco Friendly Ideas For Spring Cleaning

Method Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products

References 

  1. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/06/realestate/do-diy-cleaners-really-work.html
  2. https://www.drgreene.com/perspectives/13-facts-about-home-paper-products-that-may-inspire-you-to-hug-a-tree



blog Image for Westminster Energy, Environment & Transport Forum Policy Conference: Reducing Avoidable Plastic Waste Via Incentives, Targets & Policy Priorities

Westminster Energy, Environment & Transport Forum Policy Conference: Reducing Avoidable Plastic Waste Via Incentives, Targets & Policy Priorities

“We Made Plastic. We Depend On It. Now We’re Drowning In It”, states the title of a recent article published by the National Geographic (1) – a sentiment being echoed across the globe. The point is, what can we do about it? Are alternatives to plastic the only way forward, or can we find a new way to deal with the billions of tonnes already on our planet?

Here at Pen Warehouse, we agree that sustainable products and green trends are a great way forward in reducing both the amount of plastic being used and our product’s end of life effect on the environment. But what do we do with what we already have?

Plastic is everywhere within the promotional products sector, in our products and our packaging. In fact, 40% of plastic produced worldwide is being used for packaging purposes (2) and over 350 million tonnes of it was produced in 2018 alone! (3) Our director, Helen Dyl, and our Head of R&D, Dr Rebecca Townsend, recently took part in a one-day conference, looking at precisely this problem; How to reduce plastic waste across the board without limiting our product quality.

Many of the speakers present at the conference stressed the same key topics, “Circular Economy”, “Product Impact Assessments” and most importantly, “Plastic is Not the Enemy.” So, we looked into these concepts in more depth and how we could apply them to our own business!

“Plastic is not the enemy!” was the opinion expressed in the first talk of the day, delivered by Professor Rosalind Malcolm (Director of Environmental Regulatory Research Group at the University of Surrey). A world without plastics is almost unimaginable – they’re found everywhere, from our mobile phones to space rockets and from food packaging to essential medical supplies. In fact, many people have tried to live without plastic, all you have to do is search YouTube for their accounts and it’s safe to say, it was a struggle! So how do we combat this? Do we really want to give up plastics entirely?

Our answer to this question is an emphatic no! Plastic is an important part of our lives and, more specifically, it plays a vital role in the promotions industry with its versatility, abundance and cost effectiveness. In fact, the plastics industry employs 1.6 million people in Europe alone (3). What we really need to do is change our behaviour. This point was made categorically by Dutch speaker Arnoud Passenier, (Senior Program Manager Circular Economy, Netherlands Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management). We need to stop thinking of plastic as a single-use commodity, thrown into the rubbish as soon as we’re done with it. Plastic is recyclable, our pens are recyclable and even the insides are recyclable when separated. So, why aren’t we doing this?

The biggest buzzwords of the day was “Circular Economy”, so we looked into this in more detail and the effect it would have on our society and business.

Circular Economy

A circular economy is an alternative to our current model (make, use, dispose). Instead of disposing of products at the end of their life cycle, we keep products and resources for as long as possible, extracting their maximum value at all stages of the supply chain and then recovering and regenerating these materials at the end of each service life. This approach in particular is seen as the way forward by many of the experts on the panel, including Dr Marcus Gover (Chief Executive Officer at WRAP), and is gaining increasing popularity worldwide as a means of tackling our plastic pollution problem among others. Look out for our upcoming blog post where we’ll be delving into this topic in more detail!

To learn more about Circular Economy, check out this interesting video by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, or visit their official website for more information.

To make such a drastic change to our behaviour and how we treat our plastics, the change needs to be taken up by everyone from the supplier to the end user. At The Pen Warehouse, we’ve been putting this into action by working with our suppliers to make sure they use the most eco-friendly packaging and transport methods while reducing the amount of plastic packaging needed, among many more initiatives. Read more about our packaging changes here.

Out of a number of valuable suggestions we took from this conference,  an immediately implementable action is “product impact assessments”, which prompts us to examine our products, their impact on the environment and what we can do to reduce this impact. In fact, many of our products have minimal end of life environmental impact, such as our Mood® Collection reusable water bottles.

As for pens, how about opting for one of our sustainable fountain pens? Nicknamed the Pen for Life, this refillable fountain pen is the only truly environmentally-friendly pen. And what makes it the perfect environmentally-friendly pen? Well, apart from requiring the odd top up with fresh ink, nothing else is used or disposed of. This is because each refillable fountain pen comes with a device that enables the user to draw ink from an ink bottle with minimum mess and fuss. Watch this space for a future article on the Pen for Life.

Our sustainable Pen for Life Fountain Pen. Click here to view.

In Summary

We were incredibly inspired by the discussions at the Westminster Energy, Environment & Transport Forum and we can’t wait to start putting all of the innovative ideas we learnt into practice. Attending forums such as this is a great way for businesses to see the long-term picture of sustainability and to learn effective methods of waste reduction that make a real difference.

Please see below for some upcoming events which we urge you and your colleagues to get involved with. Covering all aspects of sustainability, these forums provide a platform for education and discussion hosted by experts in the field of sustainability. Events such as these are guaranteed to get you thinking and motivate you to become part of the change, providing forward-thinking ideas which you can weave into your own business practices. 

Edie Sustainability Leaders Forum: 4&5/2/2020 – A multi-award-winning event uniting business leaders and sustainability decision-makers from the world’s most influential companies, along with climate experts, policymakers, NGOs and investors with a collective purpose: to transform business, for good.

Guildford Environmental Forum – Climate Emergency Talk: 15/1/2020 – A discussion on climate change emergency held by members of the GEF’s Climate Crises Group.

The Future of Waste Management and the Circular Economy Forum: 25/2/2020 – Practical guidance on how the local government and voluntary sector can work together in partnership to reduce the amount of waste and improve recycling across the UK.

References

  1. https://www.nationalgeographic.co.uk/2018/05/we-made-plastic-we-depend-it-now-were-drowning-it 
  2. https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/3/7/e1700782 
  3. https://www.plasticseurope.org/application/files/9715/7129/9584/FINAL_web_version_Plastics_the_facts2019_14102019.pdf

To download this image displaying the process of Circular Economy Vs. Linear and Recycling Economy for use on your own social media channels, click here.








blog Image for The (Environmental) Cost of Christmas: Top Tips and Considerations for the Festive Season

The (Environmental) Cost of Christmas: Top Tips and Considerations for the Festive Season

Is there any better feeling than when it begins to look a lot like Christmas? The comforting sight of lights twinkling against the prickly pines of a fresh-cut tree. The smell of mince pies and mulled wine scenting the air with spice. The look on your loved one’s faces as they tear through sheets of wrapping paper while choruses of excited squeals ring out through the house.

It’s all part of the joy of Christmas. The giving, the togetherness and perhaps most importantly, the uninhibited indulgence we’re permitted (and even encouraged!) to enjoy over the festive season. It’s a time to eat, drink and be merry and it’s so easy to become wrapped up in the excitement. 

This year, however, try to remember that it’s not just your bank balance that feels the impact of Christmas. The environmental cost of Christmas is one that is undeniable but often overlooked, so let’s consider the main aspects as we look for ways to reduce our impact without losing any of the cheer.

Gifts 

We’re all guilty of faking a polite smile after receiving a gift we’re not too excited about. But did you know that we generate around £700m of unwanted Christmas presents in the UK alone, each year? 

That’s why it’s better to do your research and make sure you shop responsibly to get your friends and family something they’ll really like. Natural, ethically sourced cosmetics, reusable food containers, drinks bottles, coffee cups and organic cotton clothing are great starting points for sustainable gift ideas which last a long time and can be safely recycled with minimal impact to the environment. 

Our Considerations

  • Avoid disposable, single-use products or last-minute panic buys which will likely end up in landfill, and instead opt for a gift which can be reused for a substantial amount of time.
  • If you’re really worried about getting someone the right gift, why not take the stress out completely with a thoughtful donation in their name? Events such as the National Trust’s tree planting initiatives benefit British forestry and provides a sustainable gift option for those who want to avoid creating unnecessary waste at Christmas.
  • Opt for no-waste products. We love the Zero Waste Nerd blog for tips on reducing plastic and general waste. Check out this post on zero waste gift ideas for some inspiration around the festive season.
  • Choose ethically sourced products and always looks for badges of authentication. We recommend shopping for Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance, Scientific Certification Systems (SCS), Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Energy Star and Palm Oil Free products. 

Christmas Lights 

Christmas lights are a huge culprit in contributing to the environmental cost of Christmas. An article published to Global News stated that: “In London, for example — a city known for its Christmas decor — 750,000 light bulbs are used, and the lights go up months before Christmas.” As well as draining massive amounts of energy, the increased use of lights also contributes to light pollution and causes disruption to certain ecosystems and nocturnal wildlife.     

Our Considerations

  • Swap standard incandescent lights for LED (which use up to 80% less energy!). This could save more than £11m and 29,000 tonnes of CO₂ over the 12 days of Christmas.
  • Use solar powered outdoor lights which generate energy from the sun during the day.
  • Make your own handmade decorations instead of store-bought Christmas lights. Try using biodegradable or recyclable materials such as paper, twine, brass, glass, wood or even foraged natural materials from outdoors like berries or holly leaves. 

Wrapping Paper, Christmas Cards and Gift Tags 

Is it really Christmas morning unless you find yourself (or Mum) wading through a sea of discarded wrapping paper, gift tags and brightly coloured bows with a black bin bag in hand?

Although the glisten of glittering gifts under the tree is a quintessentially Christmassy sight, the waste generated from wrapping paper, Sellotape and tags is substantial. The Commercial Waste website states that here in the UK, we use an estimated 83 sq km of wrapping paper each Christmas – that’s a huge 3.2 sq m per household. Combine that with the 1 billion Christmas cards we send every year which uses 200,000 trees, and the impact to the environment becomes very apparent. 

Our Considerations

  • Remember that foil, glitter and plastic can’t be recycled, so use plain wrapping paper which can be placed straight in the recycling.  
  • Make your own handmade wrapping paper and gift tags. Use eco blogs for inspiration on designs and materials, such as this post on Stylist and this one on Little Green Space.
  • FatFace have some great ideas about reusing your old gift bags to make new wrapping. Learn more and get inspired here.
  • Make your own Christmas cards from recycled materials. Eco BnB have an amazing blog post on how to make beautiful homemade Christmas cards using felt, found objects, natural materials, herbs and spices!
Check out this great video from Goodful for ways to cut back on waste while creating beautiful eco-friendly festive packaging

Christmas Trees

We cut down roughly 8 million trees in the UK alone every Christmas. What’s more, most of these trees are disposed of in unsustainable ways which cause further damage to the environment. Throwing your old tree out with your rubbish will likely lead to the tree ending up in landfill, where it will produce the harmful greenhouse gas, methane.

Our Considerations

  • Plant a tree in your back garden which you can replant and reuse next year. It saves on trees being cut down and means you have a pretty pine or fir tree in your garden all year round!  
  • Recycle your real tree responsibly. We recommend using Recycle Now’s facility locator to find your nearest recycling plant for disposing of old Christmas trees.
  • Buy high-quality artificial tree that can be reused for years to come and, once it does reach the end of its life, make sure you recycle rather than throwing it away with your general waste.

These are just a few ideas on how we can cut back on waste without cutting back on cheer by working together to reduce our environmental impact over Christmas. 

We work with the Salvation Army and Trussell Trust to donate food supplies and gifts over the festive season. Opportunities like this are a great way for businesses to give back and make a real difference in their communities. Check out The Trussell Trust to find out how you can help, or visit The Salvation Army’s Christmas Appeal to set up a donation box of food and gifts for people in need at Christmas. You can even donate money to provide companionship for elderly people, or an hour of one-to-one support for homeless people currently living in residential centres.

Staff Tips! 

Let’s finish by asking our very own Pen Warehouse team members for their crafty tips and festive tricks to a greener Christmas! 

“It’s only small, but I don’t use gift tags as lot of them have a shiny or plastic coating on them. I tend to use the actual paper I have used to wrap the gift and cut out tags.”

“Last year, instead of buying shiny ribbons and those bows that are everywhere at Christmas (which are all a bit 1970s anyway) for my family’s presents, I put pine cones and bits of pine tree on the presents as decorations once wrapped.” 

“I always reuse bags given to me and I unwrap presents like a ninja so I can reuse the paper for next year!”

“Keep all the little plastic toys from Christmas crackers and instead of them being thrown away and adding to the world’s plastic problems – use them to make your own crackers the next year! Websites like Etsy are great for inspiration and ideas:  https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/563161128384369598/?lp=true

“Buy a real Christmas tree as there’s far less environmental impact (even compared with reusable plastic) and most councils will recycle them. Just make sure you check ahead with your local recycling facility.” 

“When it comes to wrapping paper, remember this top tip! If it scrunches up, it can be recycled.”

“Buy solar powered Christmas lights which come with a timer and set them to turn off at a certain time rather than leaving them on all night.”  

“If you’re shopping Amazon, buy more than one gift at a time and request that they be packed together to avoid waste from excessive or unnecessary packaging.”

“Don’t just fill your recycle bin and send the overflowing waste to landfill.  Utilise local recycling centres too.”

Further Reading 

Have a look at these interesting links to learn more about the environmental cost of the festive season and how you can have a more conscious Christmas: 

Business Leader: The Dark Environmental Impacts Of Our Christmas Season

Burges Salmon: The Environmental Impact Of Christmas: Chemicals In Toys & Plastics In The Environment

UK Christmas World: How Much Do Christmas Lights Cost To Run?

Wired: From Tinsel To Turkey, Here’s The Truth About How You Can Have A More Climate-Friendly Christmas

Gov UK: Don’t Increase Your Christmas Waste-Line

Commercial Waste: The True Cost Of Christmas

blog Image for Sustainability – What Are Your Goals?

Sustainability – What Are Your Goals?

Sharing ideas and industry news is hugely important. We are all in this together, whether a distributor or a competitor, the more light that is shed on vital information relevant to what we do day-to-day, the better quality the message we deliver becomes. The sustainability narrative is no different, and that knowledge sharing does not stop within our industry. No matter your size, turning to global platforms to inspire as well as inform are important.  If you are beginning your sustainability journey or are interested in the bigger picture, a good starting point will be the UN’s Sustainability Development Goals. They make clear, at a global level, the work that needs to be done and the challenge that we all face.

So, What Are SDGs?

In 2015, the United Nations Member States collectively adopted a set of 17 guidelines intended to promote “peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future.”  They were developed as a global collective strategy or action framework at a community to country level. You can find a short introduction here:

These guidelines form what is known as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – essentially an urgent action plan to improve global standards of health, education and economy while reducing inequality and the damaging effects of climate change.

Let’s take a look at the SDGs more closely: 

Goal 1: End Poverty In All Its Forms Everywhere” 

What This Means: This goal seeks to end extreme global poverty (measured as people living on less than $1.25 a day) to less than 3% by 2030. 

Goal 2: “End Hunger, Achieve Food Security & Improved Nutrition & Promote Sustainable Agriculture” 

What This Means: Reconsidering the way we grow and consume food globally in order to provide nutritious food for all, while generating incomes and protecting the environment.

Goal 3: “Ensure Healthy Lives & Promote Well-Being For All At All Ages”

What This Means: Increasing life expectancy while reducing some of the common causes of death associated with child and maternal mortality. Eradicating diseases and addressing global health issues. 

Goal 4: “Ensure Inclusive & Equitable Quality Education & Promote Lifelong Learning Opportunities For All”

What This Means: Using access to education to help people escape poverty and live healthy, sustainable lives while promoting a peaceful and tolerant society. 

Goal 5: “Achieve Gender Equality & Empower All Women & Girls” 

What This Means: Ending all forms of discrimination and violence against all women and girls across the globe. 

Goal 6: “Ensure Availability & Sustainable Management Of Water & Sanitation For All” 

What This Means: Providing clean, safe water and sanitation systems for everyone. These systems will not cause any adverse effect on the environment.  

Goal 7: “Ensure Access To Affordable, Reliable, Sustainable & Modern Energy For All”  

What This Means: Giving everyone the education and the opportunity to use sustainable energy for the benefit of the people and the planet. 

Goal 8: “Promote Sustained, Inclusive & Sustainable Economic Growth, Full & Productive Employment & Decent Work For All”

What This Means: Creating decent jobs for all to improve global living standards. 

Goal 9: “Build Resilient Infrastructure, Promote Inclusive & Sustainable Industrialisation & Foster Innovation”  

What This Means: Creating investments in infrastructure including transport, sanitation, energy and technology to empower communities through sustainable development. 

Goal 10: “Reduce Inequality Within & Among Countries”

What This Means: Creating a better world by making all people equal, regardless of race, gender, income, religion or sexuality. 

Goal 11: “Make Cities & Human Settlements Inclusive, Safe, Resilient & Sustainable” 

What This Means:  Achieving sustainability by creating career and business opportunities for all, along with safe, affordable housing. 

Goal 12: “Ensure Sustainable Consumption & Production Patterns”

What This Means: Changing the way we use our resources to produce and consume goods to achieve economic growth and sustainability. 

Goal 13: “Take Urgent Action To Combat Climate Change And Its Impacts”

What This Means: Putting measures in place to reduce the effects of greenhouse gas emissions before they become irreversible. 

Goal 14: “Conserve & Sustainably Use The Oceans, Seas & Marine Resources For Sustainable Development”

What This Means: Seek to undo the damage that has led to 40% of our oceans being heavily affected by pollution. Implement sustainable measures to reduce this impact and avoid further threat to marine biodiversity. 

Goal 15: “Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.” 

What This Means: Reducing the loss of natural habitats and biodiversity and the effects of climate change on land. 

Goal 16: “Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels”

What This Means: Eliminating violence and conflict across the globe so that all people can live peacefully.    

Goal 17: “Strengthen The Means Of Implementation & Revitalise The Global Partnership For Sustainable Development”

What This Means: Using strong global partnerships and cooperation to achieve the Sustainability Development. 

As well as 17 goals there are 169 targets to meet the goals and that is where it can get a little complicated …. so where do you start?

The SDG BusinessHub is a great source of information and inspiration. The hub was designed to ‘provide business with a powerful framework to translate global needs and ambitions into business solutions’.

So, Why Are SDGs Good for Business?

As well as understanding what may be driving the consumer, who ultimately we are producing products for,  SDGs are important because:

  • They instill customer trust and loyalty. There is growing evidence that consumers are increasingly mindful of a company’s ‘sustainability credentials and are prepared to vote with their wallets’;
  • Fossil fuels will be replaced by other forms of renewable energy and the more these are used, the lower costs will become;
  • Instability increases risk. Tackling these types of issues through your business or community will ultimately provide a secure supply chain and from a business standpoint, protect you more;
  • Diversity into new markets can provide a profitable investment, this could be from your choice of product to a process you adopt. These will give you additional USPs too;
  • They are topics that are being taught in schools and are questions that are being asked when recruiting. These topics are fast becoming part of our social conscious, having an answer for those questions will impact retention and recruitment which in turn will impact growth.

Further Reading

With 17 goals and 169 targets that vary from being specific to relatively generic, you can interpret them and apply them directly to your business or life without extensive research. Alternatively you can refer to the Social Progress Index that may make this challenge easier. This framework pockets areas of change into three sections and uses a scoring system based on how they are implemented.

Image result for structure of the social progress index

Do Goals Work?

In 2001 the UN agreed a set of Millennium Development Goals where the target was to halve the proportion of people globally living in poverty by 2015. The goal was to reduce global poverty from 36% to 18% by 2015. This was achieved, with the reduction being at 12% in 2015. This shows you that the world can get better. 

References

https://www.goldstandard.org/sites/default/files/documents/sdg_report_optimized.pdf