As my Mom can tell you, I have boxes upon boxes of plastic storage units that are sitting in both of the sheds in her backyard. About a year ago I was going through them and in the process I pulled out some stuff that, for some unGodly reason, I was “storing.” Among these items were a computer keyboard and some old pens, pencils, and markers.
I brought this stuff back with me to my home near the shore and when I got there, I immediately put the keyboard into a different storage area in my closet and I added the writing implements to a bucket of similar items. I’ve never been one to throw away items that still have some tangible use to them and I think that is a virtue. However, adding those extra pens and pencils to my bucket of pens and pencils got me to thinking about all of the stuff that we all probably have lying around in junk drawers or plastic bins or buckets, etc. How many of us have a bunch of old pens and pencils sitting around, but when we need something to write with we comment that we never have anything to use?
I bring up the brief story about bringing home pens, pencils, and a keyboard to comment on something that I’ve been trying to do for a few years now. When I started going to graduate school at Rutgers (which would be the spring semester of 2004), I realized that it made no sense for me to go out and buy new pens and notebooks and other things that you’d use in the classroom because I had leftovers from both college and high school. Seriously, who needs to go out and buy another notebook when you’ve probably only used 15 – 20 pages out of your last one or if you have sheets of loose leaf paper laying around? It’s insane the amount of resources that we all likely waste by not completely using all of the items that we purchase. Think of how much money you’ve probably spent on writing implements over the years when you had perfectly good ones lying around your home or office.
While these are “sustainable” and “environmentally-friendly” reasons to completely use the items that we purchase, there is another reason – it saves money! Why go out and spend even $2 or $3 on new pens when you have old ones sitting in a drawer? Why go spend $5 to $8 on notebooks when you have old pieces of paper that you can use? I’m currently taking a course in executive communication and the notebook that I’m using is an old black and white marble covered composition notebook from Mead that I purchased when I was in college. In the last ten years or so, I only used about 6 pages in that notebook. Just 6 pages! Talk about a waste…
And as a quick note – I’m not against going out and purchasing new stuff when it is needed. For example, the garbage can that I keep near the desk in my bedroom is broken and needs to be replaced. Sure, it gets the job done, but it’s broken and has a jagged edge. When I get a new garbage can, though, I’ll be sure to put this one in the recycling bin since it is made of plastic.
The pencil that I’m using to take notes during the executive communication class is probably older than some of the people reading this blog. I remember getting it in second or third grade and it has “Happy Thanksgiving” stamped across the side of it with a weird looking turkey and an odd pilgrim on either side. This is one of the pencils that had been sitting in my Mom’s shed for 10 to 15 years doing nothing. Sure, it’s a funny pencil, but it gets the job done and it is a bit of a conversation starter with my classmates (which usually starts with either, “Is that your kid’s pencil?” or “Does that say ‘Happy Thanksgiving’ on it?”).
The next time you think you need to go out and buy a pen or a pencil stop and think about whether or not you have a sufficient writing implement at home or in the office somewhere.