Low plastic office: manila folders

Over the last couple of decades I have used, revised and rejected more document filing systems than I care to recall. While I never plan to go paperless, I do hope to convert many of my less useful files to PDFs and leave current and active files or vital documents as paper.

And I plan to keep them in plain old manila folders. It’s easy to find them packed in cardboard boxes and recycled fiber content folders are available. (I’ve given up on bulky hanging file folders; I hate how they snag on anything and everything. They also have plastic waste: the tabs.)

Sometimes the solutions can be found in the ordinary and familiar.

Girl Scout cookies hack

When the green-garbed cookie pushers come my way, I hide: I just love those waist-bulging Thin Mints much too much. But if others don’t abstain, you might be able to benefit in a way that respects creative re-use, and indirectly reduce plastic consumption.

I discovered an empty Thin Mints carton (that holds 12 boxes) is the perfect size to use for storing and sorting letter-sized manila folders, which themselves are often packed without plastic and can be had with high recycled fiber content.

And using the box spares a purchase for a case; many small cases for manila folders are made of plastic.

Low plastic office: erasers

Some of my favorite erasers are proudly and plainly “plastic” — so once they’re used up I’ll get no more. Natural gum rubber erasers are available and presumably biodegradable. The last one I got wasn’t even packaged but a promotional piece from an arts supply store.

Source? Index cards without plastic

Does anyone have a source for index cards without a plastic wrapper. Back when I was younger, you could get them — and index tabs; which can be gotten in pasteboard boxes — bound in a band of paper.

Perhaps from an office supply source, rather than a retailer? Please leave me a lead in the comments.

Low plastic office: pens

Like my shaving, I adopted fountain pens years ago because I prefer the experience of writing with them. Most modern fountain pens — the inexpensive ones anyway — are almost all plastic, however, and that’s not good. Twisting open to refill, uncapping and recapping . . . the plastic fails. So I moved to mostly-metal pens even before my current interest in plastic reduction. So I have some experience to draw on.

Here are my two workhorses. A little Pilot Birdie — which I got recently on eBay; alas, they’re no longer made — and the larger Parker Vector, which is more commonly remembered in its plastic version.

The Pilot has a squeezing bladder, which takes relatively little ink and it dries out if the cap is off more than a minute when not writing. (Recap a moment and it’s fine.) It really is a jotter: small notes, blog post ideas, phone numbers. I carry it with me. The Parker takes cartridges — no more! — or an adaptor, to fill from a bottle. A more robust medium nub, which is better for letters and longer-format writing; I leave it on my desk.

Plastic savings? In time, I imagine there will be some. But the Pilot in particular comes in a big plastic case. I do keep a regular ball-point pen around for anything taking pressure, like forms. But the key is using those pens, and keeping up with them. Take those other pens back to the supply closet. Say no to the cheap ones that come as promotion pieces.

A nice pen doesn’t have to cost a fortune — many of us already have them; an old graduation present? — and it helps keep the desk tidy and low-plastic.