Set Them Free: A Pen Purge

Years of buying and trying out all kinds of pens led to this…

Pen cups

And this…
More pen cups

Pen miscellanea

Looking around at the various pen cups in my office, I decided it was time to take action (quickly, before I changed my mind). A pen living in a dusty mug is not a happy and healthy pen so I knew I needed to find them brand new homes.

Free pens!

Luckily, because I work at a college, I have a steady flow of students who are thrilled to test-drive and adopt my cast-offs. They’re amazed to be offered free pens and often admit to having a bit of a pen addiction themselves. So we bond a little bit as we discuss our particular likes and dislikes. A few ask, “Why do you have so many pens?” I briefly explain that I have a clinical condition known as “hyperpenopathy”, which might be completely made up, yet very real.

Before long, the pen herd has been thinned. It’s a bit like when vultures swoop in and pick a carcass clean, but in a good way.

Post-purge

I’m happy to see my surplus pens and pencils put to good use before the ink has fossilized and the erasers turn to dust. It really is a win-win situation.

uni-ball Vision Elite rollerball

Sometimes, though, I find MYSELF rooting through the pens I’VE JUST DECIDED TO GIVE AWAY, when one of them catches my eye. Such was the case with this uni-ball Vision Elite 0.5 mm orange rollerball. Something about seeing it get picked over made me want it back. So I snagged it, and have been using it ever since for jotting quick (orange) notes, and for checking off to-do list boxes.

uni-ball Vision Elite rollerball

Reduce.

Reuse.

And, if you’re me, reclaim.

That’s MY kind of “ink joy.” (With apologies to PaperMate)

Ink Joy pens

Do you ever give away pens? Do you trade with friends? [Hmmmm...maybe we should do this!] Do you donate to a favorite school or program? Do you set them free in the wild? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments.

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13 thoughts on “Set Them Free: A Pen Purge

  1. Great idea! This inspired me to look through my pen collection to see if there’s anything I can give away at work. Then realised the only thing I want to get rid of is my bag of colour pencils from my school days… Don’t think anyone would want those.

  2. When I spotted the “Live Simply” pen cup I snort-laughed my iced tea through my nose! Clearly you took that message to heart–eventually. ;) (I usually donate to a teacher or give away to people when they say they like them. ) Felicitations – your spring cleaning is finished early this year!

  3. I give students who have expressed an interest in a quality pen some of my “extras”. I want to promote writing and this really helps as they take pride in their writing instrument versus a random pen they found or picked up during the back to school sales. My extras were pens I once used with zeal but as I found something new they ended up orphans, so to speak. I like when they find good homes!

  4. As a retired person I envy you and the opportunities that you have to use your pens. I have to look for places to put my pens to use. Church is my primary place to put them to work. As a volunteer at a local elementary school I have been able to encourage the students to use pens. In the small contests that I devise in the class rooms I have given a fountain pen as a contest prize. The students don’t even know what a “fountain” pen is. Where have we gone wrong? In our school system teachers are not allowed to teach cursive writing. Enough already, any suggestions of activities to put my pens to use? I love to give my pens away (not my loved ones), but the extras some of which I purchase for this purpose. Spread the love!

    • We have an after-school program for inner city kids housed in our church and every now and then I donate a bag of pens from my stash, as well as some of the notebooks that I acquire during back-to-school sales at Staples. Since I don’t have kids of my own, it’s fun to find outlets to spread some pen/notebook love around. I like your idea of giving out a fountain pen as a prize…with maybe a few lessons on how to maintain and use it. They seem so magical to the uninitiated!

  5. For some reason I’m always losing my pens! I wish I could add a tracker , so when I lose them I can use an app of some sort to find them :) lol. I like to share my favorite pens with others.

  6. Great idea, thanks for the share. I went through a couple months buying a $25 free shipping stash from Jet Pens when I learned of their site. Some I liked some I didn’t but I ended up with a pile that looked liked yours. I did a similar penvangelism effort and laid them out at work. Guess that wasn’t such a crazy idea after all.

  7. I’ve done the buy-and-try soooo many times that I ended up doing purges almost once per year. That has slowed considerably as my pen collection has turned more into a reusable barrel situation in most cases, but even just a couple of months ago I put a box together and hauled it to work for my colleagues to sift through. There is a strange satisfaction walking around the office seeing someone use a nice Pilot or Uni-ball rather than a BIC from the office cabinet. : )

    Several years back I sent a box of pens to the charity Pens For Kids when Brad Dowdy was promoting them on The Pen Addict which was a fun experience.

  8. I just GOT BACK a cup full of pens I’d given my wife, who’s NOT a pen aficionado…likes em sticklike, ball point and thin lined. I’m a 1.0/1.2 line, hybrid ink/new smooth ink Jetstream/Zmulsion/Zebra flight kind of guy… But I thank you all for where I can bring/lose that cup of pens now (away from home…)

  9. I work at a school, so when I get “freebie” pens at conferences etc, I always put them out at school. Parents, students and staff alike are always in the office needing pens for this or that. I’m pretty particular about the pens I, myself use so most of the pens I get for free I give away.

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