I have a whiteboard in my office. I use a variety of colorful, plastic, whiteboard pens on it, which are labeled “nontoxic,” but produce volatile, organic aromas that can lead to headaches if you work with them long enough. On average, I find that only one of three whiteboard markers I pick up will actually write on the whiteboard in a way that allows readers in my office to read the marks. There appears to be no rhyme or reason as to which ones will work and which ones won’t.
When I need to clean my whiteboard, I use a plastic spray bottle of “Extra Strength Marker Board Cleaner,” which contains trisodium phosphate, may be harmful if swallowed, is an eye irritant, and must be kept out of the reach of children. Once I spray this chemical on, I have to wipe it off with either a rag (which must then be washed, consuming water and electricity), or with paper towels (which go into the trash, and then into a landfill somewhere). The longer the material on the whiteboard stays there, the harder it is to scrub off, and the more rags and paper towels are required, and the greater the likelihood that my work clothes, desk or papers will be stained by the residue I am removing.
Once I clean the board, it takes some time for it to dry, and if I try to write something on it before it does, 100% of the whiteboard markers I pick up will leave no readable marks (as opposed to the normal 66%), but will instead sort of skid over the glossy, wet surface of the board, requiring more paper towels or rags to remedy the situation. This makes real-time use of the board in meeting or teaching situations messy and difficult.
So can someone please tell me why this is a better, cleaner, safer, cheaper, or healthier system than a good old natural green slate chalkboard with a stick of chalk and a felt eraser?