Green pencils.

It’s a nice trend in the pencil world that we’re thinking of the environment, especially since the pencil trade all but killed off the eastern red cedar (juniperus virginiana) that grows in the southeastern United States long ago. Some of our favorite pencils are environmentally friendly, especially the inimitable Forest Choice pencil. Armand shared these links with us:

These are pencils made from recycled denim. To boot, “they are made out of 20-33% recycled blue denim jeans that have been ground up. The rest is the recycled post-consumer paper. To complete the blue theme, they have a blue eraser and a pewter blue ferrule.” You can buy them from Green Earth Office Supply. Treehugger also tells us about pencils made of recycled money, which are not as expensive as their material would make them sound.

From the Eden Project Store, we have all sorts of nice stationary, including colored pencils made from well-managed wood and writing pencils made of recycled vending cups — one cup for each pencil. Yup, all my trips to Starbucks waste pencils, it seems, in a way.

If anyone has had the chance to try these cool products, we’d love to hear how you like them.

[Photo, Eden Project Store.]

10 Replies to “Green pencils.”

  1. I’ve used the recycled money and recycled blue jeans pencils (I purchased a pack of the former, and picked up a freebie of the latter from a trade show). While the cool factor is certainly there, the leads performed like the cheapest of give-away pencils. (Too light, too “dry,” and very rough on the paper.) I probably still have at least one or two “money” pencils, though I gave several away as part of larger gifts. (“I’ll give you a hint. There’s money in the box.”)

    Also, as “WoodChuck” will no doubt tell us, actual wood in pencils isn’t necessarily an environmentally naughty thing.

    Now, how we’re supposed to make use of coffee cups, old jeans, and shredded money is another issue. Though, it all sounds like good fodder for paper. (I’ve been looking for recycled notebook paper of late, and haven’t seen any offerings at the local office supply or drug stores.)

  2. I’ll keep using leadholders, thanks.

    I know making the leadholder costs more energy up front, but the metal parts will last decades, possibly more than a century, and are recyclable. The only consumable in a leadholder is the lead.

    Plus, they feel nicer in my hand and have “premium” leads, instead of the cheap leads these faddish “reclaimed materials” pencils often contain.

  3. Well Alia was right, it’s just taken me a bit of time to get around to commenting on this post.

    It would be innacurate to say Eastern Red Cedar was “all but killed off” by its utilization in the pencil industry. ERC is a pioneering species that is very quick to spring up in new and disturbed areas and really would be tough to eliminate. Just look at any former pasture land in the southeast and you will generally find this species leading the reforestation process as significant areas of former agricultural land revert to forest.

    In fact Eastern Red Cedar is abundant and commercially harvested still today throughout it’s range. It’s just that it’s primary use has shifted to products which best benefit from it’s unique characteristics while other species proved

    See my latest Timberlines post on Incense-cedar to learn more about the primary reasons Eastern Red Cedar gaveway to California Incense-cedar in the pencil industry.

  4. I bought a pack of the Conte “Evolution” pencils, which are the most unpleasant pencils to use that I’ve come across. Needless to say, I haven’t lost any of them yet, in spite of trying quite hard!

    They bend whilst in use, the “lead” is slippery and does not carch the tooth of the paper in the satisfying way a conventional lead pencil does, and believe it or not, the “lead” melts (don’t ask how I found that one out!)

    I note that Conte are now part of Bic, and that according to their website, these Evolution pencils are available more or less world wide – except for North America. don’t worry, you are not missing anything!

    See the hateful thing at

  5. Gill –

    The lead in the BIC/Conte Evolution pencil is a graphite and plastic composite so it can be heated and co-extruded in the manufacturing process along with the casing materials. Thus it is possible to melt this lead as opposed to grahite/clay composites which are kiln dried before being encased in wood.

  6. Have you guys tried the Greenciles? I use it with all my students. They are fantastic. The graphite does not break, sharpens easily and made of recycled newspaper.

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