Chhoden lower secondary school recently initiated a “green” move which saw the use of ballpoint pens replaced by fountain or ink pens.
The man behind the move was a teacher, Rinchen Phuntsho, who on 24 March, 2012 made a presentation ‘zero plastic guilt-free writing’ on the history of ball pens and its degrading impact on the environment and ecology. The presentation also laid emphasis on handwriting discipline that leads to neatness.
Students and members of the faculty responded by surrendering their ball pens immediately after the presentation. Now, starting from the Principal to supporting staff, everybody has started using ink pens.
Rinchen Phuntsho said that he got the idea when he took part in a needs assessment workshop at the Royal Botanical Park at Lampari in Nov 2011. During the workshop, the park warden had shared how he avoided using ball pens terming it as ‘his contribution to nature’.
“We thought that at least a few hundreds of us creating lesser plastic waste by refraining from using ball pens could make a difference,” he added, “I hope other schools and people will be motivated and follow in our footsteps to create a better world.”
A class VIII student, Tshering Dema, says that she is immensely happy with her decision to quit using ball pens. “I never realized the impact it had on the world. I now use the ink pen and am quite enjoying it”. Another student, Sumitra who is a scout says she would like to set an example by never using ball pens from now on.
The body of the pen, ink cartridge, the push button, cap, part of the tip, refills and wrappers are all made of plastic which is not degradable. Burning plastics releases toxic fumes into the air that can cause cancer. It also pollutes the ground water and soil and contributes to global emission. Further, it exhausts oil resources as it takes gallons of oil to produce a few thousands of ball pens.
Plastic degradation at sea takes between 45-1,000 years.
The school located above Lungtenphu has 15 teachers and 300 students.