The Ecology of Pens

I’ve been getting into fountain pens, lately. Why? Well, aside from fountain pens, there’s concern for the environment, and moving away from disposable things. I have a hunch that all those cheap stick pens add up to a whole lot of dead plastics. With the fountain pens, you just keep re-using, and the ink comes in big, glass jars that can be recycled, instead of ballpoint refills or cartridges.

And the fact that boxes of pens have somehow become a metaphor for mortality helped. Yes, I was cleaning out a relative’s apartment, when the used Bookseller declined (very politely) to take the box of pens we’d collected. (I don’t know who offered.) Everybody has their own little box of pens. Gee, thanks.

So, fountain pens.

I’ve purchased two entry-level, under $20 pens.

The first is a Pilot Metropolitan. (medium nib) Everything you need in one box. Pen, converter…. and one cartridge of ink. I’m saving the cartridge for “emergencies” or… you know, when I travel, and can’t be trusted with a bottle of ink in a hotel room. (In the spirit of optimism, there may come a time when I am experienced enough with the refilling to do it over someone else’s table/floor/carpet. It could happen.) The whole works came in a plastic and aluminum “gift box” which means that eco-friendly thing won’t really kick in until I’ve used it for a gift box worth of disposables. **sigh**

The converter is a press-plate number, which basically works out to being an eye-dropper that attaches to the pen. It smelled unpleasantly like rubber, when I first got it, but that has already worn off. I can’t tell by looking whether the pen is full or not, but I’m also using a golden brown ink. It might be more obvious with blue or black.

It has some heft to it. You definitely know you’re not dealing with a disposable Bic, here. And it writes smoothly enough that after a few weeks of using it I ordered a second pen.

(Because that seemed like the easiest way of alternating ink colors from day to day.)

I actually did think of buying a second Metropolitan, but in the end, a sense of adventure and a desire for variety won out.

I got a Lamy Safari with a fine nib. It came in a nifty cardboard box, with a certain amount of design to it.img_20190617_133332403-1794569778.jpg

One pen. One cartridge. No converter. Buying the converter did bring the total over $20.

I don’t regret it. The pen writes really well. Nice, smooth… all the things a pen needs to be. It’s made out of plastic, and is a lot lighter than the Metropolitan.

The converter is a screw-type thing, which means you have to hold the pen in the ink, and screw and unscrew the converter to fill it. (It will be a long time before I can do that in a motel.) On this one, you actually can tell how full the pen is, and there’s a little window in the side of the pen, itself, so you can tell without disassembling the pen. The nib, itself is also replaceable, although heck if I know exactly how.

It is butt-ugly, but that doesn’t seem to matter. It just works. I’m a lot less conscious of having the Lamy in my hand than the Metropolitan. (Which may or may not be a good thing.)

I enjoy writing with both of them. We’ll hope that I don’t lose them anytime soon.

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