The Eco-Friendly Appeal of Mechanical Pencils – Japanese Pentel ORENZNERO vs. Traditional Pens

I bought Pentel ORENZNERO Mechanical Pencil around 5 years back when I was traveling to Singapore. The salesman was pitchy and really sold me this idea of a Mechanical Pencil. In the past 5 years, a lot of shift has happened around me and to me. The major one was being a more responsible human being when it comes to our environment and society. Having used the Japanese Pentel ORENZNERO extensively as a replacement for regular pens, I’ve delved deep into assessing its environmental impact lately. Here’s a comprehensive look into why, from a holistic standpoint, I believe having a Mechanical Pencil can be a superior choice over disposable pens.

Carbon Footprint – Mechanical Pencil vs. Pen

To understand the eco-friendliness of any product, we must know its carbon footprint across its overall life cycle. This would involve understanding the emissions from raw material extraction, manufacturing, distribution, usage, and end-of-life disposal. Let’s look an assumption based comparison for a broader comparison:

CriteriaDisposable Pen (over 5 years)Pentel ORENZNERO Mechanical Pencil (over 5 years)
Assumed Weight5 grams25 grams
CO2 from Material Production5g * 6 kg CO2/kg = 30 grams25g * (1.8 + 12)/2 kg CO2/kg = 175 grams
CO2 from Ink/Consumables1 gram60 grams
CO2 from Distribution5 grams10 grams
CO2 from Components38 grams
CO2 from Disposal2 grams(Negligible, but not specified)
Total CO2 per unit38 grams283 grams
Total CO2 over multiple units (e.g., over 60 pens)2280 grams or 2.28 kg(Assuming one pencil over 5 years) 283 grams or 0.283 kg
Assumption-based Comparative Carbon Footprint of a Disposable Pen vs. Pentel ORENZNERO Mechanical Pencil Over 5 Years

Raw Material Extraction & Manufacturing

  • Disposable Pens: Predominantly made of plastic, their production is petroleum-intensive. The extraction and conversion of petroleum to plastic are energy-consuming.
  • Pentel ORENZNERO: As a premium mechanical pencil made largely of metal, it undergoes processes like mining, refining, and smelting. While these are energy-intensive, remember, it’s a one-time event for a pencil designed to last years.


While both products undergo similar distribution processes, the cumulative weight of shipping large quantities of pens, given their short lifespan, can substantially add up over the years. On the other hand, the slightly heavier ORENZNERO, being a long-term tool, mitigates its distribution emissions due to its longevity.


Also, the recurring carbon footprint of pens lies in the consistent need for replacements. In contrast, the ORENZNERO, with its main consumables being graphite and erasers, has a much smaller carbon footprint over time.


Where do pens go once exhausted? Most find their resting place in landfills, making them not just a carbon but also an environmental concern. Mechanical pencils, especially premium ones like ORENZNERO, can last years and even if they reach their end, their metal components are recyclable.

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Beyond Carbon – The Holistic Benefits of Mechanical Pencil over a Pen

The debate isnโ€™t just environmental; there are multiple dimensions to why a mechanical pencil, especially one as refined as the ORENZNERO, can be a superior choice.

Health Aspect: Pencils use graphite, a non-toxic material, making them safer especially around kids who might ingest materials. Pens, on the other hand, contain inks that could be harmful if ingested or come in contact with the skin in large amounts.

Writing Efficiency: With the fine 0.2mm lead of the ORENZNERO, you’re guaranteed precision, consistent writing, and the ability to adjust your line’s thickness by merely adjusting your writing pressure. Pens, especially ballpoints, can sometimes be inconsistent, skip, or even smudge.

Holistic Life Benefits: There’s a certain mindfulness in using tools that last. Instead of the throwaway culture, investing in a tool like ORENZNERO makes you a part of the sustainability journey. Plus, there’s an undeniable charm in owning a well-crafted instrument, enhancing the joy of writing.

But is there something even better than Mechanical Pencils?

See, as I already have Pentel ORENZNERO mechanical pencil, hence the question for me got answered evaluating this as an option. However if you specifically look into buying an option which is really eco-friendly here are some other great options you should look around as well:

  1. Refillable Fountain Pens: Instead of discarding the whole pen, you only replace the ink. They can last a lifetime if maintained properly, and the writing experience is often considered superior. Just take care of the ink chemicals and their potential issues.
  2. Wooden Pencils: Made from renewable resources (wood), especially if sourced from sustainably managed forests (e.g., those certified by the Forest Stewardship Council). Their waste (shavings) is biodegradable.
  3. Bamboo Pens: Bamboo grows rapidly, making it a renewable resource. There are pens made entirely of bamboo, reducing plastic usage.
  4. Recycled & Biodegradable Pens: Pens made from recycled materials (like water bottles) or biodegradable plastics also offer an eco-friendlier option than traditional plastics.
  5. Digital Options: For those comfortable transitioning to digital platforms, tools like tablets and digital pens/styluses eliminate the need for physical writing instruments altogether, although the environmental cost of manufacturing and disposing of electronics should be considered.
  6. Other Mechanical Pencils: While the ORENZNERO is a good option, other mechanical pencils made from durable materials that can last years (and are perhaps more easily available or affordable) can also be eco-friendly.

My Closing Note on Mechanical Pencil vs a Traditional Pen

My simple closing note would be that, I have ORENZNERO, hence the comparison. Otherwise having a Mechanical Pencil is a good choice, maybe look for a Bamboo based Mechanical Pencil which would further reduce your environmental impact.

So, the next time you pick up a writing tool, remember, the might of the pen (or in this case, the pencil) isnโ€™t just in its writing but also in its environmental story.

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