Making the World a Better Place, One Pen and Pencil at a Time

The phrase “The pen is mightier than the sword,” becomes clear and apparent each new school year. The things a simple pen will accomplish this year are as of yet untold, but remain exciting nonetheless, and can run the gamut from bringing home great news on things like acceptance letters and notes of congratulations for jobs-well-done, to not-so-fun school-wide memos like “Emergency Grade Four Lice Alert.” But either way, despite our highly-digitalized world, the power of a pen makes us pay attention to the communication it brings. If it’s important enough to be written down, it commands our attention.

To give you an idea of how popular pens still are, consider this: Through a popular recycling program available at 300 Staples locations across Canada, TerraCycle and Staples have worked together to provide a second life for many writing instruments. How many? Over 2 million so far! If all writing instruments recycled through this program were connected, they could travel up the CN tower nearly 700 times! That is a lot of school permission notes! In fact, these stores will accept almost any writing utensil, including all brands of pens and caps, mechanical pencils, markers and marker caps, highlighters/caps, and permanent markers.

Think about all the ways our kids can use this “pen power.” Pens and related stationery supplies are so important that every year at the end of August, we stuff kids’ pencil cases with new, full pens, along with freshly sharpened pencils, bright highlighters and glue sticks, and send them off to learn new and exciting things about the world they live in. But there are many powerful ways to use these “tools” and while school and formal learning are hugely important, let’s also consider the power in these products for additional learning; learnings that come after the three o’clock bell has long rung. There’s surge recently in kids enacting social change at the grassroots level. We’ve seen classrooms raise money to build schools, poster campaigns for clean water programs, and nickels donated for funding museum trips for kids otherwise unable to finance such outings.

When we help bring together the collective energy and creative mindset of kids – whether in a classroom setting or around the family dining table – we are setting all involved up to enact change. Fresh clean sheets of poster board become signage for neighbourhood lemonade stands with proceeds going to local animal shelters, or pens put to paper become letters to local government requesting more useable greenspace in city planning, or …. The options are limitless when you combine a cup of markers, a fresh pad of paper, and some kids on a mission.

Have a conversation during your back-to-school shopping trip this year with your kid’s find out what issues ignite them. Then, grab a fresh pack of pens and set them on a path to making change happen – one pen stroke at a time.

Stay updated with all things Staples this summer by checking out our back to school centre at

By Michelle Janzso

July 30, 2018

Staples Canada