Staples really bite. If you’ve ever caught your finger on the teeth of a staple or ruined important documents with a hungry stapler, you probably don’t appreciate these sharp little metal doodads. Well, the planet doesn’t appreciate them either.
Staples are wasteful and have a huge carbon footprint. The most common type of office staple is made with galvanized steel – that’s steel that’s been re-heated and coated with a layer of zinc. As you can imagine, this double heating process is a pretty energy intensive task. From mining and transporting ore, to smelting and forming the staples one at a time from wire spools, staples gobble up energy at every step of their production and use. This energy use causes millions of tons of pollution.
Since staples are tiny, they rarely get recycled. In fact, they often increase the cost of recycling paper because they contaminate the recycling stream and can jam machinery. In paper recycling centers, the staples are pulled from the line by powerful magnets and screening filters, and then they’re thrown away as a recycling byproduct.
Instead of adding a piece of scrap metal to your documents, a staple free stapler cuts a tiny strip of paper and then threads that strip through the other documents. No staples are harmed, and you’ll never be frustrated by a staple shortage. Unfortunately, there are some limitations to the technology. It only works on a small number of pages, generally 2-7 sheets of paper of normal thickness. So, unless you want to make a new “un-staple” every 5 pages in a document (and mess with offsetting those marks), these are best suited for short memos rather than binding training manuals.
If your office uses a lot of short notes and you don’t want to waste time going to the office supply store all the time, perhaps one of these metal-free staplers is the answer. Otherwise, you might want to consider an older technology – the paperclip!