Are Fountain Pens More Environmentally Friendly?

There are many reasons one may wish to own a fountain pen as opposed to any other type, but one of the more surprising reasons is because they are supposedly better for the environment. So, are fountain pens more environmentally friendly than normal pens are?

Believe it or not, fountain pens actually are more environmentally friendly than most other pens, mostly due to the fact that they are intended to be used for a long time and are not as quickly replaced or disposed of compared to other pens.

Still, the situation is a bit more complicated than that, and in this article, we will discuss the exact details of how a fountain pen can be more environmentally friendly than other types of pens on the market.

Table of Contents

Disposable Versus Permanent

When you think about products that aren’t very good for the environment, it is usually the ones that are used and thrown away quickly, like plastic water bottles or plastic bags. Because they are meant to be thrown away soon after use, they create a lot of waste very quickly.

This same notion is true when it comes to pens. Think of your average ballpoint pen: convenient though it may be, it does not have a particularly long lifetime, and when it runs out of ink, you will usually just throw it away. You can refill a ballpoint pen, but even then, your old refill still goes to the trash, creating waste.

Fountain pens, on the other hand, have the potential to last many years if they are cared for properly. On top of that, a fountain pen that uses bottled ink instead of cartridges is even better for the environment because the bottles can be easily recycled and they don’t need to be recycled as often.

This situation is true for nearly any pen that is intended to be used and quickly disposed of, not just ballpoints. Pens that use cartridges have a bigger environmental impact than pens that don’t. That’s just how it is.

Fountain Pens Can Still Have an Impact

While it is true that fountain pens can have less of an impact on the environment than your typical Bic pen, this is not to say that there is no impact on the environment at all. There are many factors that determine how environmentally friendly a fountain pen can be. For instance, the materials the pen is made out of.

Some fountain pens use cartridges, which are often made of plastic. Naturally, these have a bigger impact on the environment since you will have to replace them regularly, which puts more plastic in a landfill somewhere.

And of course, even if you use bottled ink instead of cartridges, that ink still has to be produced somewhere, and chances are that the production of that ink causes some sort of negative impact on the environment in some capacity.

Basically, there are ways you could end up being nearly as bad for the environment as a normal plastic pen even if you use a fountain pen. The most important thing is to know what those ways are so you can reduce your footprint as much as possible.

Avoid Cartridges at All Costs

As mentioned previously, using ink cartridges greatly increases the environmental impact of a pen, because it means a lot of refills and a lot of disposal of plastic containers, which are often not recycled even though they should be.

So if you want to be environmentally friendly with your fountain pen, be sure to purchase bottled ink instead of cartridges. The bottles are much easier to recycle and don’t need to be replaced nearly as often as cartridges do.

Do Not Splurge on Inks

We understand that it may be hard for fountain pen aficionados to consider this, since the various different inks you can use with these pens is a big part of why people like them. But as mentioned earlier, ink production does affect the environment. The more ink that has to be made, the bigger that impact is.

Therefore, as a consumer who cares about the environment, one should keep in mind that purchasing tons of different inks are telling businesses that they need to keep making more and more to increase their sales.

While having many different inks can be fun, it’s important to keep your footprint in mind and use only what you need if you really want to minimize the impact of your fountain pen on the environment.

Try to Avoid Shipping When Possible

Obviously, the way to completely eradicate the environmental impact of a fountain pen would be to simply not own one, but we aren’t suggesting you do that. But there is a factor most people don’t take into consideration when it comes to nearly any product, that being shipping.

Frankly, the environmental impact of shipping a fountain pen will almost always be much larger than any environmental impact the fountain pen itself will make in its lifetime. Naturally, that impact grows in scope the further away the pen has to be shipped, and things get even worse when it is by air.

We’re not saying that you should never order a fountain pen online. But if you can, it would be much better to buy one from a physical location near you. If you do order pens online, try to not order so many: every time one is shipped, a big impact is made on the environment.


Fountain pens are, on average, more environmentally friendly than other types of pens. This is mostly because fountain pens are not meant to be disposed of quickly. But there are still things to keep in mind to minimize their environmental impact.

Make sure you use bottled ink, not cartridges. Try not to purchase unnecessary amounts of ink and purchase your fountain pens locally if you can. Otherwise, even a fountain pen can still have a pretty big impact on the environment.

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