Recycled pencils: Making news out of news

recycled-colored-pencils - A guest post by Sandra Garcia

Every year, parents are obligated to buy their kids (whether they like it or not) school supplies, and you can bet that pencils are on the list.

Moms and dads might be surprised to find out that those little orange sticks are made out of the 4 billion trees cut down worldwide for paper industries, and assembled with toxic chemicals in factories that pollute the air (most erasers are made from latex). After much sharpening, they are then thrown away to rest in landfills. It’s estimated that 14 billion wood pencils are made each year, and scientists have stated – to little effect – that the manufacturing process of office and school products is damaging to the environment. In fact, after construction and consumer use, these items are one of the world’s top dump-fillers.

New companies have emerged to combat the misuse of the planet’s resources for the paper and office supply industries. One such company that has emerged and specialized in recycled pencils is Earthzone, based in Vancouver, B.C. Canada. In 2005, architect and filmmaker Matty Scolozzi was unsatisfied with the slow pace of his career and created Earthzone out of a desire to start a creative business, and his passion to encourage people to save the Earth.

To make recycled pencils, Earthzone takes used, whole newspaper sheets (sourced from both Canada and USA), flattens and cuts them, then wraps the pencil graphite with a water-based glue. Other recycled pencil companies have a similar manufacturing process. Even consumers who are already buying and using these types of pencils may not know is that the shavings from sharpening can also be recycled. Re-using a four-foot stack of newspapers to make these pencils can save a 40-foot pine tree.

Because the pencils are virtually air-free, they are almost impossible to break and will last up to three times more than wood pencils, which answers many parents’ qualms about eco-friendly supplies costing more than their counterparts. Over time, buying green can save you from buying more!

And, gone are the days of the boring orange pencil. Now, recycled pencils have expanded to include colored, artist, scented, and unpainted pencils that expose the newsprint the pencil was made of. An example of this is Earthzone’s Special Edition Recycled Pencil. There are so many options out there that you can be certain you’ll find a brand or type that is to your and your children’s liking.

Skeptics will say that these small items will make little impact to improve the environment, but entrepreneurs like Scolozzi are confident that every bit helps, especially when the process of making a green product doesn’t harm the Earth. Numbering in the millions of dollars, the eco-friendly product industry is a profitable one, and Earthzone alone will make six-figures by the end of the year. As long as the demand continues to grow for all products like recycled pencils to be green-made, it will just be a matter of time before other corporations follow.

About Earthzone:

Founded in 2005, Earthzone created a line of recycled pencils, which are distributed by six national distributors, including Chapters Indigo and Basics Office Products. Earthzone plans to make other sustainable products by January 2010, and to sell 30 more products by next fall. Earthzone is committed to conducting ethical and responsible business, based on principles of environmental preservation and professionalism. www.Earthzone.com

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2 Responses to “Recycled pencils: Making news out of news”

  1. Richard @ Eco Living Advice March 2, 2010 at 6:38 pm #

    My father uses a gadget that he inherited from *his* father. It’s essentially a pencil-extender. So when a pencil gets really short after lots of use, you can stick it in the end of this gadget and continue to use it right to the bitter end. Waste not, want not :-)

    • Anna August 25, 2010 at 8:48 pm #

      @ Richard – wow, that is pretty efficient. I guess every little bit counts!

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