Should shorthand writers be more green?

I‘m constantly writing. I’m not just writing the end product – newspaper articles, for example – but through the entire process. Shorthand notes from interviews, shorthand notes and jottings during research, drafts and so on. I’ll confess that I’ve rarely contemplated the number of plastic pens I’ve discarded over the years, the petroleum-based ink I’ve used or the countless leaves of shorthand notepaper I’ve run through. But I bet if somebody brought put it all on my desk I’d be horrified.

As daily users of ink, paper and plastic, should we as shorthand practitioners be more considerate for the impact our work/hobby has on Mother Nature?

Well, what can we do?

First off, 100% recycled paper has to be the way forward. Next up is pens. Throwing used Biros away has got a be a naughty thing to do, and I’m not sure they can be recycled everywhere. I’ve seen ballpoint pens which have been recycled from old CD cases and the like. But what do you do with them afterwards? Can they too be recycled? I haven’t got an answer to that yet.

So I’m thinking a refillable fountain pen has to be the answer because then you’d not be throwing anything away. And if you veer towards non toxic plant-based inks then perhaps we’re being as green as we can be. I’m going to try and it and I’ll report back as to how I get on.

What’s your view?

One thought on “Should shorthand writers be more green?

  • October 9, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    I’ve been using a (metal) fountain pen for years. Stylo-snobbery aside, I would have thought a fountain pen would still be the default choice for writing shorthand, rather than a biro because of the stiffer resistance of a ballpoint on paper.

    Not sure about the ink I’ve got, though; it’s probably made of something awful like a mix of crude oil and precious octopus excreta.

    As for notebooks, I make my own. I’ve laid out a page with lines spaced the way I like, and I print these out onto typing paper. I found a box of perfectly good paper that someone put in the bin-shed outside my partner’s building a few years ago, and I’m still working my way through that.

    I’ve got a podcast about writing and binding books, and I’ve posted a video about making notebooks and pads there. It’s on iTunes (“DIY Book”) and on my website,

    It’s not really that involved though: you just hit the underscore key and hold on until you’ve filled a page with lines, then select-all, colour the lines light blue (or whatever you like), then print out the page, cut in half or quarters. I’ve also added a pink line down the middle. Then you clamp those together with a bulldog clip (clothes peg, whatever) and put PVA/craft glue along one side. The result is a pad whose pages you can tear off (and recycle!) as you use them.

    DIY is a bit greener, and it can be a lot of fun, both making and using things you’ve crafted yourself!


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