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A pencil is a thin cylindrical instrument used for writing and drawing. It consists of a rod of graphite or other marking substance, usually either encased in wood and sharpened in order to be used or held in a mechanical metal or plastic device.
As a relatively old tool for drawing and writing, the pencil has developed over time and different types of pencils were invented for different uses. You may have even learned how to write your name and then used a pencil to write it for the very first time.
Globally there are about 14 billion pencils used each year. It takes one tree to make 170,000 pencils, meaning that it takes about 80,000 trees to meet the global annual demand for pencils.
As we have come into the modern age, recycling old objects and used objects is something that has been focused on recently. Previously, objects were reused or repurposed out of the need to conserve resources and money.
Society as a whole is trying now to find even more clever ways to convert “waste” into usable materials.
So, if you are an artist or maybe just enjoy writing with pencils you may wonder if pencils can be recycled. There are several things to be considered when thinking about recycling pencils.
Pencils can be recycled, but they cannot be put in with regular recycling. The only real way to recycle pencils is through a recycling program specifically designed for them.
It will be necessary to put a little thought and ingenuity into recycling your pencils. You may not be able to recycle the small bit of pencil left after using it and sharpening it over time, but you could save all those little bits of pencil to recycle a larger quantity.
You could even ask your friends and family to save their unwanted pencils, pass them on to you, and then eventually have an even larger quantity of pencils to recycle.
There are currently several companies that will accept used pencils to recycle if you put them in a box and send them in directly to their company. The most popular recycling programs for pens and pencils is through TerraCycle.
Just placing one pencil in a normal recycle bin is not a good idea. Most cities do not have the capability to recycle pencils, and some even prohibit placing writing instruments in the bin.
Despite being made out of many recyclable materials, pencils are hard to recycle. That’s because when pencils are made, the wood is treated, processed, and painted multiple times. After this process, the wood is no longer recyclable.
That is why it is better to gather a box of pencils and send them to a place that has the machinery and manpower to handle all of the materials included in pencils. You could even gather up your colored pencils and send them to an organization that will give them to children in need.
What about mechanical pencils? Mechanical pencils are usually either metal or mixed plastic. Both should be recyclable, but often both are too small to be sorted, or are made of a mixture of metals and plastics, making them impossible to recycle.
To see the most popular mechanical pencils (so you don’t have to throw them away) just click here.
How Can I Recycle Pencils At My Own Home?
If there isn’t a recycling program that is accessible to you, you could do your own recycling of pencils at home. Wooden pencils could be used as kindling if you want to start a fire in your fireplace or in your backyard fire pit, or to keep the fire going.
You could even use the shavings that come from sharpening pencils for fire kindling. You could save these shavings in a container until you get enough to use.
It may not be the most environmentally friendly way to dispose of the pencils or shavings, but this way they would be kept out of the local landfill.
The good news is the pencils are actually biodegradable. So, if you end up throwing them into your trash bin you can be assured they will break down over time at the landfill.
Because most pencils are made of cedarwood, which tends to scare troublesome insects away, working pencil shavings into the soil around your plants may keep them safe from pest invasions. Pencil shavings can also be used to retain soil moisture.
Although pencil shavings according to one study do not act as fertilizers, they still are useful when mixed with other compost materials.
You can use your old pencils in a small pot of dirt when you plant seeds as starter sticks so that your new plants could have something to cling to as they grow. Once they outgrow them, you could then remove the pencils and save them for another set of seedlings.
You could save a few pencils and then stack them and configure them to make a birdhouse. The local birds might appreciate a secure place to build a nest.
Crafting can be fun with bits of old pencils. You could cut up the pencils into small pieces and make jewelry. You could also glue parts of a pencil onto a picture frame. You could even decorate your pen or pencil container with bits of pencil.
The erasers of pencils can be used around the house also. Erasers are great for taking marks off walls. Just use the eraser on the mark just like you would a mark on a piece of paper.
Erasers can also be used to remove excess adhesive residue from all kinds of objects. It will provide the grip and friction necessary to remove adhesive after removing a label.
You could use the parts of leftover erasers to stabilize a wall hanging. Just cut off the eraser from the pencil, then use some glue on the end to stick it to the edge or corners of the wall hanging. This will prevent the wall hanging or painting from banging against the wall, or it may help the wall decor to not tilt so badly.
Erasers are also great for removing scuff marks from light colored vinyl floors. Sometimes scuff marks are unavoidable, especially when walking on vinyl with dress shoes.
All you need to do to clean the marks off is just grab a pencil eraser and use it to erase the scuff marks, then wipe the area clean with a damp cloth.
Pencils have been around for a while and have been serving a wonderful purpose for many years . Enjoy using your imagination to figure out creative ways to recycle these and other objects you may have around the house.