Doing our part to help protect the environment is important—and getting more important every day. Even seemingly small steps, like choosing reusable and responsibly made pens, can add up to a big difference over time. For a bit of perspective, Bic has sold over 100 billion disposable pens since 1950. If all those pens were lined up end to end, they could circle the Earth 350 times.
Using an environmentally friendly pen doesn’t have to be a sacrifice. In fact, you may even be using one already without realizing it! In this article we’ll share our favorite eco-friendly pens, many of which are already extremely popular due to their great quality and performance.
The easiest way to be eco-friendly in your pen use is to buy pens made of recycled plastic. Recycled plastic pens are particularly common in Japan, since recycling there is a pretty big deal.
Japanese Eco mark symbol
Pens bearing the Eco Mark symbol (shown to the left) are certified by the Japan Environment Association to contain at least 70% factory recycled or 60% post-consumer recycled plastic by weight. Many other Japanese pens are made in accordance with the Green Purchasing Act, meaning that they contain at least 40% recycled material. These pens may be marked with a green leaf symbol, but most are not marked. Some pen companies also use their own branding to mark eco-friendly products, such as the Pilot BeGreen and Pentel Recycology lines.
Here are our recommendations for great pens made from recycled plastic.
Ballpoint Pen: Pilot Acroball
The Acroball uses a special low-viscosity “hybrid” ballpoint ink, created by blending lubricants with conventional ballpoint ink. The result is a pen that combines the smoothness and reliability of a ballpoint pen with the crisp, vibrant lines of a gel pen. The Acroball comes in a full range of ink colors and is made of 77% recycled plastic.
Uni Jetstream Standard
Uni Jetstream Standard Series—The Jetstream is the original hybrid ballpoint ink pen and still the most popular. The standard series comes in a variety of stylish body colors and is made of 46% recycled plastic.
Uni Power Tank
Uni Power Tank—Uni-ball’s version of the “space pen,” the Power Tank can write upside-down, underwater, over grease, and in extreme temperatures. The standard series pens are made of 75% recycled plastic, and the Smart series pens are made of 45% recycled plastic.
Pilot Petball—Part of Pilot’s “B2P” line, over 90% of the plastic used to make the Petball is from recycled plastic bottles. The barrel of the pen is shaped to mirror the ridges of a plastic bottle and is available in a range of fun body colors.
Gel Pen: Zebra Sarasa Push Clip
Available in dozens of ink colors and five tip sizes from ultra-fine 0.3 mm to bold 1.0 mm, the Sarasa Push Clip encapsulates everything that makes Japanese gel pens great. The ink flow is smooth and generous yet also clean and precise—never feeling messy or out of control, even in the larger tip sizes. Sporting the Eco Mark prominently on its distinctive binder clip, it is made of 75% recycled plastic and is not only one of our favorite eco-friendly gel pens but one of our favorite gel pens, period.
Pilot Hi-Tec-C Grip
Pilot Hi-Tec-C Grip—Another poster child for high-quality Japanese gel pens, the Hi-Tec-C has developed a cult following for its combination of smooth writing and fine, precise lines. This rubber grip version is made of 74% recycled plastic.
Pilot Juice—Pilot’s rival to the Sarasa Push Clip, the Juice is made of 82% recycled plastic and features water- and fade-resistant pigment ink in 36 different colors.
Pentel EnerGel X
Pentel EnerGel X—One of America’s best-selling gel pen lines, the EnerGel features a fast-drying, smear-resistant ink formula that makes it a particularly good choice for lefties. The EnerGel X is made of 84% recycled plastic.
Rollerball Pen: Pilot Hi-Tecpoint
A cartridge-refillable version of the iconic and best-selling Pilot Precise rollerball pens, the Hi-Tecpoint features a sturdy body made of thick, 71% recycled plastic. Like the rest of the Precise family, it has smooth-flowing liquid ink and a needle-point tip for clean, sharp writing.
Pilot Multi Ball
Pilot Multi Ball—The Multi Ball feels just like an ordinary rollerball or gel pen on paper, and it can write on plastic, glass, and other non-porous surfaces too! It comes in a range of colors and tip sizes and is made of 77% recycled plastic.
Multi Pen: Zebra Sarasa Multi 4+1
Zebra Sarasa Multi 4+1
The Zebra Sarasa Multi 4+1 includes four gel ink refills and a 0.5 mm mechanical pencil, making it great for the serious multi-tasker. It comes with four basic gel ink colors, but it is also compatible with a wide selection of Sarasa gel ink and Surari ballpoint ink colors, letting you pick and choose your perfect combination. The Multi 4+1 comes in three stylish body patterns and is made of 81% recycled plastic.
Pilot Acroball 4 Color
Pilot Acroball 4 Color—The Acroball 4 Color multi pen uses Pilot’s super-smooth Acroball hybrid ballpoint ink. It also happens to be compatible with Uni-ball’s Style Fit Signo gel ink and Jetstream hybrid ballpoint ink refills, giving you a huge range of customizability. The Acroball 4 Color comes in 6 different body colors and is made of 79% recycled plastic.
Uni Jetstream 3 Color
Uni Jetstream 3 Color—The Jetstream 3 Color multi pen features the ever-popular Jetstream hybrid ballpoint ink. It comes in super-fine 0.5 and 0.38 mm tip sizes, with refills also available in the more conventional 0.7 and 1.0 mm tip sizes. It comes in 9 different body colors and is made of 41% recycled plastic.
Fountain Pen: Pilot Kakuno
A great fountain pen aimed at younger users, the Kakuno features a playfully colored, 85% recycled plastic body. It uses the same super-smooth Japanese medium and fine steel nibs as the Pilot Metropolitan, but with a fun smiley face printed on the nib. The Kakuno can be refilled with Pilot fountain pen ink cartridges or with bottled fountain pen ink and a Pilot CON-20 or CON-50 converter.
Pilot VPen—The VPen is a disposable, non-refillable fountain pen that comes ready to write straight out of the box. While a disposable pen isn’t as eco-friendly as a reusable pen, the VPen is made of 43% recycled plastic.
Sign Pen: Pentel Sign Pen
Pentel Sign Pen
First released in 1963, this pen quickly rose to fame as President Lyndon Johnson’s pen of choice for taking notes and signing documents. The Sign Pen’s fiber tip offers a fun, expressive writing and drawing experience. It comes in a rainbow of colors and is made of 83% recycled plastic.
Pilot Super Petit
Pilot Super Petit—The Super Petit has a finer and slightly firmer tip than the Pentel Sign Pen, giving it a more precise yet somewhat less expressive feel. It is made of 84% recycled plastic.
Multi-Surface Marker: Zebra Mackee Care
Zebra Mackee Care
The Mackee Care markers use an alcohol- and oil-based ink that can write on a wide variety of surfaces including paper, plastic, metal, and fabric. The ink is water-resistant but can be removed from nonporous surfaces with alcohol. Their double-sided design makes them great for bold and detailed writing. They come in 12 vibrant colors, are made of 83% recycled plastic, and are even refillable!
Uni Posca Paint Marker—The Posca marker uses a lightfast, pigment-based paint ink. The ink is permanent on porous surfaces like paper, but it can be scraped or washed off nonporous surfaces like glass. This makes it a great choice for temporary signage and window art. It is made of 41% recycled material.
Pilot Name Marker
Pilot Name Marker—The Name Marker uses a quick-drying, feather-resistant ink that holds up well to laundering, making it perfect for labelling sports equipment and children’s clothing. It is made of approximately 87% recycled plastic and comes in single- and double-sided versions.
Highlighter: Zebra Optex 1 EZ
Zebra Optex 1 EZ
The Optex 1 EZ is a refillable highlighter made of 98% recycled plastic. As the name implies, it also has some innovative features designed to make it as easy and convenient to use as possible. The cap be easily removed by gently squeezing pressure points on either side of the cap, and the ink is made to last longer than a typical highlighter. The refill packs even come with a built-in wrench to make unscrewing the barrel of the highlighter as effortless as possible.
Pilot Spotliter 2—The Spotliter 2 features a convenient double-sided design, with a broad chisel tip on one end for regular highlighting and a fine bullet tip on the other for underlining, boxing, and writing notes. It is refillable like the Optex 1 EZ and made of 89% recycled plastic.
Uni Propus 2
Uni Propus 2—The Propus 2 also has a double-sided design, as well as a rugged black body made of 75% recycled plastic. Its pigment-based ink is highly water-resistant, making it great for protecting important highlights from accidental spills.
Pilot FriXion Light
Pilot FriXion Light—FriXion Light highlighters use special thermo-sensitive ink that turns invisible when exposed to heat from the built-in friction “eraser.” This lets you correct accidental highlights and even remove highlights altogether once they’re no longer needed. Just be sure not to leave any important highlighted materials in a hot car, since they can also cause the ink to turn invisible. They come in a variety of standard and soft colors and are made of 87% recycled material.
Whiteboard Marker: Pilot Board Master
Pilot Board Master
The Pilot Board Master is made of 91% recycled plastic and can be refilled with ink cartridges whenever it runs dry. The board master comes in a range of colors and tip sizes, and the transparent ink cartridge lets you see exactly how much ink is left.
Pilot Wytebord—The Wytebord marker is made of 56% recycled plastic and refillable with bottled ink instead of cartridges, making it a great choice for people who do a lot of whiteboard writing. It also has a handy magnet and eraser built into the cap.
Pentel Handy-line S
Pentel Handy-LineS—The Handy-LineS is made of 55% recycled plastic and features a pocket and retractable tip, making it a convenient choice for teachers, chefs, and anyone else who likes to have a dry-eraser marker always on hand.
Buy it For Life
Another way to be friendly to the environment is to buy a high-quality, refillable pen that you can use for many years without needing to replace it. Here are some of our favorite pens that you could use every day of your life and still pass on to the grandkids. You can also find more ideas in our Buy It For Life collection.
Ball Pen: Karas Kustoms Retrakt
Karas Kustoms Retrakt
The Retrakt pen body holds a wide range of our favorite gel, ballpoint, and rollerball refills. Designed and made in the USA, each Retrakt pen body is machined from a solid bar of metal and uses a high-quality German push button. The aluminum version is anodized to protect against wear and corrosion, while the weightier brass and copper pens have a raw metal finish that will darken and develop a unique patina reflecting the way you use it.
Multi Pen: Zebra Sharbo X
Zebra Sharbo X
The Sharbo X is no ordinary multi pen. Featuring a sleek profile and all-metal construction, it looks and feels like a premium writing tool—which is exactly what it is. The Sharbo X holds two ink colors of your choice plus a mechanical pencil. It comes in a range of styles, from the slim LT3 to the premium TS10, which can hold an additional third ink color.
It uses D1 multi pen refills, but due to a slight difference in width between Zebra D1 refills and other brands’ D1 refills, the Sharbo X is not always able to hold non-Zebra D1 refills.
For D1 refills that don’t fit in the Sharbo X, we’ve found that placing a tiny sliver of tape on the side of the refill can help it fit securely.
Fountain Pen: Kaweco AL Sport
Kaweco AL Sport
The AL Sport is an industrial take on a classic pen that dates back to the 1930s. Originally made to be easily carried by athletes in a small pocket, Sport pens use an unconventional “long short” design. Its long cap and short body make it conveniently compact when closed yet comfortably full-sized with the cap posted on the back of the pen. The AL Sport is machined from solid aluminum and feels amazingly sturdy and well-balanced in the hand. It comes in a variety of finishes, including the popular raw aluminum version, which has a soft finish meant to pick up scratches and quickly develop a well-used look.
For a heavyweight alternative to the AL Sport, check out the Kaweco Brass Sport.
As you can see, it’s easy to be environmentally conscious and still use a great pen. For more eco-friendly pens, notebooks, and accessories, check out our Environmentally Conscious collection.
Do you have any tips or recommendations for making your writing and drawing more eco-friendly? We’d love to hear about them in the comments below!
Recycled Plastic Pen Recommendations
|Pen Type||Recommendation||Also Consider|
|Ballpoint Pen||Pilot Acroball (77%)||Uni Jetstream Standard (46%)
Uni Power Tank (75%)
Pilot Petball (90%)
|Gell Pen||Zebra Sarasa Push Clip (75%)||Pilot Hi-Tec-C Grip (74%)
Pilot Juice (82%)
Pentel Energel X (84%)
|Rollerball Pen||Pilot Hi-Tecpoint (71%)||Pilot Multi Ball (77%)|
|Multi Pen||Zebra Sarasa Multi 4+1 (81%)||Pilot Acroball 4 Color (79%)
Uni Jetstream 3 Color (41%)
|Fountain Pen||Pilot Kakuno (85%)||Pilot VPen (43%)|
|Sign Pen||Pentel Sign Pen (83%)||Pilot Super Petit (84%)|
|Multi-Surface Marker||Zebra Mackee Care (83%)||Uni Posca Paint Marker (41%)
Pilot Name Marker (87%)
|Highlighter||Zebra Optex 1 EZ (98%)||Pilot Spotliter 2 (89%)
Uni Propus 2 (75%)
Pilot FriXion Light (87%)
|Whiteboard Marker||Pilot Board Master (91%)||Pilot Wytebord (56%)
Pentel Handy-line S (55%)