Ballpoint pens have a strange affinity to magically disappear from our clutches and enter into the void of all lost things, never to return - like your rubber bands or that left sock. And it only hits us much later that, despite their small build, millions of ballpoint pens eventually accumulate into a vast pile of plastic waste. But how wonderful would it be if all these lost items germinated into trees? I know I wouldn’t feel too bad about losing so many goddamn pens then.
That’s when Lakshmi Menon, designer by day and environmental hero by night, decided to make that thought a reality. She decided to create a pen, called ‘Entrée’, that is not only made from natural and eco-friendly materials, but also be renewable - in a whole new way! Her crafted pens are made from paper waste generated by local printing presses, and buried at the bottom of each pen, is a seed. According to a report by The Better India, the paper is rolled with a machine that Lakshmi designed herself and is patented. Once the ink in the pen runs out, all one would need to do is to plant the pen in any soil and wait for a beautiful seedling to sprout in the coming weeks. Each pen is sold at a price of INR 12, compared to INR 5 regular ballpoint ones.
The seeds in the pens are that of the humming tree or the Agasthya tree, known especially for its versatile medicinal properties. So while it may cost more than your regular ballpoint pen, by purchasing one of these pens you’re reducing waste, choosing eco-friendly and sustainable stationary and planting a tree.
Lakshmi’s work doesn’t stop here – her organisation, Pure Living, offers sustainable living solutions and employs women and paraplegic individuals from underprivileged backgrounds to make these pens. “The pen just became mightier,” she said to The Better India. Entrée is expected to bring the amount of plastic used per pen to one-fifth of the normal usage, and due to cost constraints, Lakshmi retains the use of plastic refills for the ink - although sometimes she does resort to making metal bodied ones.
And there’s so much more to her efforts in this endeavour. She soon hopes to conduct a “ballpoint pen trash collection” campaign across schools in Kerala and create awareness on the current levels of waste generation. They also plan to make art installations with collected pens in the hopes of visually quantifying and demonstrating the dire situation of growing plastic waste in India.
With Lakshmi’s new pen making waves across the state, we can only hope that a large enough forest emerges from all the pens we’ve lost and are definitely about to lose.
For more information and purchasing these pens you can reach her at [email protected]
Click here to read the complete report by The Better India
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