Environmentally friendly, or green office supplies are appearing more and more often, so I thought I would take a look at the Paper Mate Biodegradable Pen that I picked up from OfficeMax and which is also available in more varieties here from Amazon. There is also a biodegradable mechanical pencil version which I didn’t pick up to test out, but judging from the pictures of it, its got a similar look and feel.
Now before I even get into the review, there is some controversy over the “green” language used by Paper Mate to describe the environmentally friendly aspects of this pen. From my research (and I’m not a scientist) it looks like there are some differences between being biodegradable and compostable. Basically, you can’t just toss this entire pen in a landfill and have it naturally return to the earth, but when certain components (see further down) are placed directly in soil or a compost it will degrade. Either way, as a consumer you need to do your research and make well-informed decisions, and personally I think its much better to have a pen like this Paper Mate Biodegradable instead of a pen thats just all plastic that will stick around with us for 100s of years.
Visually, I think Paper Mate did a good job with the design and coloring of this pen, the light earthy colors, smooth natural looking lines and the textured leafy pattern on the grip, convey a an environmentally friendly tone. Beyond just being a good-looking and environmentally friendly pen, it is also very comfortable to write with. The rubberized grip section, and the overall balance made it pretty comfortable to write with, although it is a fairly light weight pen, so if you like something more hefty, this pen wont fit that bill for you.
Earlier I mentioned that only certain parts of the pen are considered to be biodegradable, so the above photo shows those components. Basically the entire body of the pen can be put in your compost or soil when you are done with it…AFTER you have bought some refills for it several times hopefully.
What you have left now are the non-biodegradable parts of the Paper Mate Biodegradable Pen, so basically you have the grip, the ink cartridge, the spring, and the plunger parts. So I think that while the world of green office supplies still has a way to go before becoming perfect, this Paper Mate Biodegradable pen is a great start down that path.
Oh, and normally I do a writing sample, but for the most part ballpoint pens mostly write the same. This one does a better job than most other ballpoints (excluding the cream of the crop Uniball Jetstream and Pilot Acroball) that I’ve used. It writes fairly smooth, and it doesn’t result in any of the clumpy gooey spots that you sometimes get with other ballpoints, so you wont be disappointed if you are expecting a nice writing ballpoint.