Blog - A False Economy?

The Disposable Pen vs Affordable Fountain Pen


There's nothing quite more satisfying on a dull and damp October afternoon than addressing your inner-nerdiness, and working out what is more affordable as an everyday pen - a lower-end fountain pen, or a generically branded disposable ballpoint?

If you're a fountain pen aficionado, then I'm sure at one point or another, you've been asked, what's wrong with using a simple 'biro'? The chances are you could repost with the fact that a fountain pen certainly helps with your handwriting style. Well, now you're going to be able to give them an even more comprehensive reply!

For starters, in using disposable pens, we are just adding to the environmental demands to landfill such waste (the EPA estimate Americans throw away 1.6 billion disposable pens each year!)

While many of us do indeed recycle, and the plastic barrels of your standard disposable pen is made of recyclable plastic, how many of people take apart the pen to remove all metal parts and the ink tube? I assume not that many!

Furthermore, with oil a finite commodity, when disposable pens are eventually seen as a non-essential item, those disposable pens at some point, in the admittedly maybe distant future, are going to eventually seem not so disposable.

Yet perhaps the most compelling argument in favour of fountain pens over disposables, is the fact they're not as cheap as you may think. People may seem shocked at the price of some fountain pens, but of course we all know that you don't have to break the bank for a pen that writes neatly and looks the part.

Inspired by a post I read by Nathan Tardif of Noodler's ink, I thought it would be a good idea to use today's weather as an excuse to work out just how much value we get out of our fountain pens, as opposed to the generic ballpoint.

The workings:

Average price of the generic ballpoint: 40p (consisting of 0.44ml ink)
0.44ml= 0.09p/0.1ml (90.9p per ml)

90ml bottle Noodler's Ink Bulletproof Black: £13.50
15p per ml

90ml/ 0.44ml= 204.5 ballpoints to get as much ink as a bottle of Noodler's
204.4 averagely priced generic ballpoints: £81.81
Noodler's Ink= Over 6 times better value than the ballpoint

Quite incredible!

What you can buy on PurePens.co.uk for less than £81.81 (correct at the time of posting blog):
- Jinhao 599 fountain pen & bottle of Noodler's Bulletproof Black= £19.49
- TWSBI Eco fountain pen & Noodler's Bulletproof Black= £39.99

AND remember as the TWSBI Eco's have a 1.2ml ink capacity, one fill will last three times longer than the standard ballpoint or to put it another way, you will have used and thrown away 3 biros before your Eco runs dry.

- Noodler's Ahab fountain pen & Noodler's Bulletproof Black= £31.95
AND as the Noodler's Ahabs has an even larger 1.8ml ink capacity, and therefore one fill will last four times longer than the standard ballpoint.

There you have it, fountain pens- they have the history, they help you write nicely, they look nicer and they write for longer. And of course, when the oil runs out- you'll be safe in the knowledge you've still got your fountain pen and stockpiles of ink to enjoy!