Sunday, January 29, 2006

Moleskine & Palomino

I've been travelling overseas to Frankfurt Paperworld show and now to our pencil factory in Thailand. Too tied up to get down to the detail in writing Part 3 on making a Pencil Revolutionary out of an Environmentalist. There's also some interesting new pencil items I plan to write about from the Paperworld show. All this will need to wait till I get back home though.

In the meantime I thought I'd treat you to a few of the increasing associations between Moleskine and Palomino I've been finding on blogs, Flickr and the like. Thanks to A.E. Baxter for this first Palomino-Moleskine "glam" shot.

Nita's talent is visible on her InkTracks blog where she drew this Moleskine using her Palomino Pencils. We're glad she digressed from her wonderful color efforts to work in graphite for a few sketches last month. We'd love to see more.

I found this next link just today from The Fountainhead on the Flickr Moleskinerie pool. I don't actually know yet if any of our California Republic color pencils were used in this drawing, but I couldn't resist pointing this out. The pages include an interesting write up on the brief one month history of the republic and the mistaken design of the original flag of the California Republic which was supposed to be a pear, not a bear. Fortunately, we've outlasted our first month unlike our namesake. However the spirit of Captain Bartlett and those original California revolutionaries remains an inspiration for us here at California Republic Stationers. You may have already noticed that we've also encorporated this spirit into our Golden Bear brand which we think works out much better than the Golden Pear would have. Not sure the "Pear revolution" would have lasted even a week back in 1846.

Oh yeah, I've commented recently on the Pencil Revolution, but will mention this here also. Upon return from my current travels in about a week we will be listing on Pencil World Creativity Store our newest item the Palomino graphite HB with eraser which many of you have been asking about. Here's a sneak peak.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Pencils: An Environmental Profile

Or Part 2 in my continuing series on "How to make a Pencil Revolutionary out of an Environmentalist."

In Part 1 of this series I set the stage by indicating my defining parameters to answer the question, “What arguments would one use to convince an environmentalist to use wood cased pencils?” I’ll say in advance please excuse the length of this post as environmentalus rabidus extremus is a wily and cagy creature and so the foundation and evidence for my arguments must be well constructed.

To accomplish this I will today address a range of environmental impacts with results drawn from an independent third party study performed by Arthur D. Little during 1993. This study was performed on behalf of our former Incense-cedar pencil stock supplier and sister company in our family group, P&M Cedar Products, Inc. P&M operated several sawmills cutting cedar logs harvested in California and Oregon forests into pencil stock and other lumber products and was later integrated back into CalCedar. The pencil stock is converted to pencils slats by our company California Cedar Products Co. for distribution to pencil manufactures. This study, entitled “Pencils: An Environmental Profile”, was designed to develop an improved understanding of the environmental related strengths and vulnerabilities of the Incense-cedar pencil as compared to extruded plastic pencils and to pencils with a recycled paper casing. By recycled paper pencils we mean pencils produced from pencil slats made from compressed recycled paper products, such as the Sanford American EcoWriter pencil produced during the 1990s.

This was a quite extensive study which was complicated by the wide range of manufacturing inputs used in each case. The report references over 75 resource materials used in addition to extensive interviews and on-site investigations and discussions with manufacturers involved in various processes involved through the 5 stage lifecycle. Additional experts in areas of plastics and pulp and paper production were also consulted along with in depth data collection that is all summarized in the report running approximately 100 pages.

The environmental analysis focused on evaluating resources consumed and pollutants produced by each of the three pencil casing types during five life cycle stages including:

Raw Material Acquisition – harvesting of timber and production of pencil stock for incense-cedar pencils, oil and natural gas extraction and processing for plastic pencils, and collection and sorting waste paper for recycled paper pencils.

Slat/Resin production – pencil slat production for incense-cedar and recycled pencil production, and plastic resin production for plastic pencils

Pencil Manufacturing – production of pencils from slats for incense-cedar and recycled paper pencils and from plastic resin and wood flour for plastic pencils, including the graphite-plastic extruded core vs. the traditional graphite-clay kiln fired cores used in pencils produced from slats.

Use – consumer use of pencils

Post consumer disposal – disposal of pencil materials, such as pencil shavings and stubs, including landfill and incineration alternatives

The results of the analysis indicated that each of the three pencil products has comparative environmental advantages and disadvantages. On the whole, the incense-cedar wood cased pencil was found to be superior to the other two forms of pencil across a greater number of the dimensions analyzed in terms of reduced impact on the environment. The resource inputs and environmental outputs considered across each life cycle and the key conclusions for each are summarized here:

Environmental Impacts on Resource Inputs
Raw material consumption
– Wood pencils require four times more raw materials than the plastic pencil and more than twice the raw materials of the recycled paper material. However a much higher proportion of raw materials used in wood cased pencils are recyclable and the wood pencil consumes less than half the non-renewable resources as either the plastic or recycled paper pencil.
Water consumption – The wood cased pencil consumes approximately 60% of the water used by plastic pencil and approximately 10% of the water consumed by the paper pencil.
Energy consumption – The wood pencil requires approximately ½ the energy required by the paper pencil and a similar quantity of energy as the plastic pencil. The Incense-cedar wood pencil utilizes significantly more renewable energy sources than the plastic or recycled paper pencil.

Environmental outputs
Atmospheric emissions – The wood pencil results in emissions less than or equal to those of the plastic and paper pencil for carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide, culfer oxide, and particulate matter. The wood pencil emits from 5 to 6 times more carbon monoxide than either the plastic or paper pencil. The wood pencil emits more than three times the organic pollutants emitted by the paper pencil, but only about 10% those of the plastic pencil.
Waste water effluents – The wood pencil emits insignificant quantities of waste water pollutants; emissions of BOD and suspended solids are greater for plastic and paper pencils.
Solid waste – The wood pencil generates less net process solid waste requiring disposal and less post consumer waste than the other two pencil types. While the wood pencil generates more solid waste a greater proportion of this solid waste is later recycled into various products. (See my prior post “Wood Manufacturing Byproducts” for more on CalCedar’s efforts in this area through the years)
Hazardous waste – The wood pencil generates significantly less hazardous waste than either the plastic or recycled paper pencil.

This report is certainly quite helpful to demonstrate the relative environmental superiority of the wood cased pencil versus the two other pencil types. However an objective, intelligent review from the viewpoint of our target consumer environmentalus rabidus extremus would likely yield the following objections:
- The report does not address impacts of graphite production as well as production of other components common to each of the three pencil types. Nor does it address alternative forms of writing instruments.
- The study is now 12 years old and manufacturing processes and relative environmental impacts may have changed due to various improvements in different industries.
- The report focuses on Incense-cedar as a surrogate for all wood casings. Environmental control standards may not be as high or as consistently enforced in other parts of the world where alternative pencil woods now more commonly used in today’s pencils are grown, harvested and processed into lumber, slats and pencils.
- Finally and probably most importantly to rabidus extremus this report does not address wildlife and ecosystem impacts other than the perspective of raw material and water resource consumption in unit volumes.

While in Part 1 I narrowly defined the convincing to be done as limited to selection among cased pencils, some generalizations might be made about comparisons between plastic writing instruments vs. wood cased based on results of this study. These wood favor wood over plastic. Impacts of common cased-pencil components such as graphite, erasers and ferrules were not analyzed in this study since they would have no relative impact in a comparative analysis. How graphite might compare to the vast array of inks used in pens and how ferrules and erasers compare on environmental impacts to other pen or mechanical pencil components is unclear.

As far as time gone by since completion of this study, my only comment is that all things progress in time and improvement could be expected on all fronts maintaining the relative comparative advantages and disadvantages. As to the implication that other wood casings commonly used may be less environmentally sound than Incense-cedar, this is a complicated matter and perhaps a good subject for a future post. In the meantime, all the more reason to purchase genuine Incense-cedar pencils.

On the relative wildlife and ecosystem impacts across the raw material sourcing component it’s correct that this report doesn’t seem to assess this dimension. When it comes to timber harvesting the report does makes note of existing protections under the strong forest practice laws in California and Oregon and indicates the mixed use of selective vs. clear cutting harvest practices according to site specifics. So while I’ve clearly made a cogent argument for the wood cased pencil’s environmental superiority on many dimensions that comunus citizenus may very well accept, it appears I haven’t quite convinced rabidus extremus of this and there is yet work to be done.

As chance would have it I recently received a phone call from a real activist, environmentalist type who had questions about cedar use in pencils. So for Part 3 of this series I’ll go right to the source of our target consumer to get to the bottom of his thinking and make my final effort at conversion of rabidus extremus to Pencil Revolutionary.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Paint that Palomino

Vibrant colors and more variety in selecting your own personal mix of Palominos are our theme today for new listings at Pencil World Creativity Store.

First, some of you have been requesting other color lacquers for our Palomino graphite pencils after seeing the beautiful array of colors in our Artist Color and Aquarelle Pencil. While our Palomino orange is our standard we do have a blue Palomino we’re now making available in a 6 pack.

Next, based upon a number of requests we have received sufficient stock on hand here in California to support adding our new Palomino Graphite Variety Pack. This 6 pack allows you to choose any mix of our Palomino graphite pencils from 2H to 2B including the HB in blue or orange according to your own taste.

As a number of fellow Revolutionaries have shown interest in alternate package options for color pencil range, we are introducing the Palomino Artist Color Pencil Variety Pack and the Palomino Aquarelle Pencil Variety Pack. These new items give you the ability to select your own 6 pencil mix from the 24 color range in each line as a means of personalizing your collection to your individual tastes and preferences. You can now replenish your supply for your full wood box sets at a discount or perhaps this will allow you to sample the color and aquarelle ranges at a good introductory price. We're convinced you'll love our color range and will be looking to add one of our wood box sets to stable your Palominos.

As a final color flash for the week, celebrate in red, white and blue with our Spangle Stars and Stripes 40 count tube.

Finally, for those of you looking to stock up on good quality general writing pencils we’re running a special promotion through February 15th in which you can get a free Golden Bear Mini Sharpener with purchase of any four 40 count tubes in Golden Bear, Prospector and now go ahead and add the Spangle Stars and Stripes pencils to that group.

Been looking for Part 2 on my new series, How to Make a Pencil Revolutionary out of an Environmentalist? It’s coming as soon as I can get to it over the weekend. I hope you'll be riding and painting with those Palominos in the meantime.

Friday, January 06, 2006

How to make a Pencil Revolutionary out of an Environmentalist: Part I

Recently John at PRevo forwarded a question from a fellow Pencil Revolutionary that he felt might better be answered by me. The question: “What arguments would one use to convince an environmentalist to use wood cased pencils?”

Initially, I couldn’t resist offering a quick, sarcastic and typically glib “industry think” response by questioning the lack of common sense in the decision making skills of the stereotypical environmentalist. Who can’t see that the use of a well managed, renewable resource is favored over writing instrument casings from alternate materials derived from petroleum based plastics or metallic compounds which involve mining? This of course assumes the Environmentalist chooses to use a hand held writing instrument as opposed to some alternate method of recording and communicating information. This would complicate comparing environmental trade-offs so for the purposes of simplification I’ll assume we’re discussing choosing among alternative writing instruments.

I’ll also overlook the implication in the question that papermaking seems not to be an offensive use of trees (since you have to write on something) while somehow use of a wood cased pencil may be perceived more damaging by some. Given the amount of paper consumption generated by legal proceedings driven by environmentalist appeals of timber harvest plans this is probably a reasonable simplification of the matter.

Of added concern before answering such a question is to define the context of what an environmentalist is, since I need to know who it is I’m trying to convince. Are we referring to the environmentalus rabidus extremus subspecies who views timber harvesting as an affront to all forms of life on earth. For example, someone who might also be a member of PETA an organization that is now even attacking fishing as an activity that causes pain to fish.

Or instead are we more concerned with the evironmnetalus commonus citizenus subspecies. Here we see less on an activist, one who simply wants to be sure their consumption decisions are not overly harmful to the environment. Someone who might purchase a small car or a hybrid SUV over a Hummer or be concerned about forest practices so that the water quality supports fish and other habitat and has no objection to and may even participate in fishing or hunting activity.

For a little help I went to Merriam-Webster for the following clarification.

en·vi·ron·men·tal·ist 1 : an advocate of environmentalism2 : one concerned about environmental quality especially of the human environment with respect to the control of pollution
: advocacy of the preservation or improvement of the natural environment; especially : the movement to control pollution

This definition seems fairly benign and can be generalized to imply that just about anyone with a concern for environmental preservation is an environmentalist. However given the use of activist word of advocacy and I’m up for the tougher challenge I’ll try to go from the standpoint that we’re dealing with the rabidus extremus variety. Now that this is all worked out, I’ll start building my case.

More to come later in Part 2