You know the routine: you arrive at your desk and can't find a pen, so promptly head to the stationery cupboard for a shiny new black ballpoint. By the end of the day you've somehow ended up with one of those mysterious chewed-up old red numbers. Every day, some 14 million of these pens are sold worldwide. In 2005, total sales passed 100 billion, driven by this 'use it, chew it, lose it' culture. Where do they all go? Sheer waste. Unfortunately for our eco drive, Douglas Adams' theory in his Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy that there's a planet populated entirely by our 'unattended biros' is highly unlikely.
They say the pen is mightier than the sword. It certainly has a powerful effect on the environment, and not just when you're writing to your local MP to lobby for a wind-farm. For one thing, businesses can stop sending out ballpoint pens as promo items - think of other more sustainable ways of promoting your business. And for personal use, why not write with a simple pencil or a 100% recycled pen? Or try labelling a new ballpoint and using it all the way to the end. Then, of course, there's the glamorous world of refillable pens - treat yourself to a solid gold Mont Blanc Meisterstuck. My editor keeps telling me to get one. If I did, it would disappear quickly, that's for sure.
Two out of 10 - a small gesture, but entirely in your hands.
Dave Waller is MT's resident eco-prefect.