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Eco-Friendly Notebooks

Eco Friendly Notebooks

Are you in the market for an eco-friendly notebook? I use all kinds of digital tools, but nothing beats writing by hand for me, especially for planning and brainstorming tasks! I find that thoughts come easier to me when writing by hand, and I appreciate the possibility of a blank page. Fortunately, there are many varieties of eco-friendly notebooks depending on your needs and preferences. 

Why Choose a Sustainable Notebook?

A sustainable notebook can be a great choice for a variety of reasons. Maybe you’re trying to cut down on your paper usage — I know I am! In fact, I learned that a 2018 analysis from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that paper and cardboard materials as the largest component of municipal solid waste. Notebooks made of recycled paper can be a good option, but paper can be recycled a finite number of times — each time it’s recycled, the fibers get shorter. 

Additionally, every municipal recycling program is a little different. For example, some programs let you recycle a notebook with the spiral in, some don’t. I don’t know about you, but I find it tricky to keep track of how to recycle all kinds of unique products and prefer to buy something that doesn’t require recycling at all. Also, while over two-thirds of paper and cardboard were recycled in 2018, a huge amount of paper (we’re talking millions of tons) are not, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

RELATED:

Our Favorite Eco-Friendly Notebooks

Spiral Bound: Appointed Workbook

If you love a spiral bound notebook for its ability to lay flat, look no further than the Appointed Workbook. Made in the U.S. with responsibly sourced paper and a cotton cover, it has a sleek, minimal, and sophisticated look. They claim their paper is made with ⅔ renewable energy, with more than half made on-site with renewable biomass and zero-emission hydroelectric. Additionally, the paper is acid- and chlorine-free (better for our waterways!) while still offering a smooth premium writing experience. The cover is biodegradable, odor-free, and pH neutral. 

Oftentimes packaging can be a culprit in single-use plastic that quickly ends up in the garbage, but Appointed has made it a point to eliminate single-use packaging wherever they can. Their packaging features biodegradable, renewable, and curbside-recyclable materials. 

Pros:

  • USA made 
  • Available in lined, grid, or blank interior
  • Perforated sheets
  • Paper is Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified
  • Water-resistant cover  
  • Personalization available 

Cons:

  • Lined and grid ruling are one-sided

Specs:

  • Size: 6.5” × 8.5”
  • Material: Paper, cotton, brass 
  • Price Range: $20-$30 

Reusable: Paper Saver

You are now ready to write your notes and ideas sustainably in the Paper Saver Reusable Notebook!  Use our templates to print lines, grids, planners and more to write sustainably and stay organised.  Once you are finished, remove paper and replenish with more used paper to upcycle as pages, reducing your paper waste so you can write notes more sustainably.

Paper Saver was started when an Australian architect became tired of seeing printed draft designs heading into the trash — he knew there was still life left in the blank, white pages before they were recycled. The Paper Saver notebook was born!

This is a neat product that I wish I’d heard about sooner! I’m always using the backs of used paper for making lists — letters in the mail, printed documents that I no longer need, etc. This allows you to turn these pages into a notebook for you to use and extend the life of paper you already have. Pretty ingenious. I could see myself using this in addition to other notebook or writing tools, to keep my current scrap paper system organized. The notebook can hold around 40-50 sheets of folded letter sized printed paper, which would give you around 80-100 pages in writing paper.  

Pros:

  • Vegan leather
  • Endless use by continually supplying your own scrap paper 
  • Simple design without need for clips, staples, or glue
  • Includes elastic closure band and ribbon bookmark for organization

Cons:

  • Plastic cover (vegan leather is not biodegradable)
  • Paper not included (you supply your own scrap paper)
  • Only available in a few colors – black, light pink, light blue 

Specs:

  • Size: 8.7″ x 6″
  • Material: Faux leather and steel
  • Price Range: $17-$25

Composition Style: Decomposition Notebook 

If you find yourself using classic composition notebooks, consider the Decomposition book. Made in the USA, the notebook is made from 100% post-consumer waste recycled paper and is printed with soy ink. The Decomposition books also come in a variety of fun cover designs. 

The Michael Roger company that manufactures the Decomposition Book is family-owned and -operated and has been around since 1949. They offer a variety of eco-conscious stationary products. I do wish they had more detail on their eco-conscious claims as it relates to methods and materials. 

Pros:

  • USA-made 
  • Paper made from 100% post-consumer waste recycled paper
  • Many cover options
  • Compostable and recyclable 
  • Sewn binding 
  • Lined and dot grid interior options

Cons:

  • Thinner paper best for pencil or ballpoint pens
  • Website lacks detail on their eco-friendly manufacturing methods 

Specs:

  • Size: 9.75” × 7.5” 
  • Material: Recycled paper 
  • Price Range: $11-$16

Paperback: Northbooks 

If you prefer a paperback notebook, Northbooks offers a lightweight notebook made from eco-friendly material in the USA. 

The notebook is made of high-quality, 30% recycled paper, and their paper is Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) certified. The cover uses 50% post-consumer recycled, natural jute fiber paper. Additionally, Northbooks plants a tree in the rainforest for every purchase made, through a partnership with Eden Projects

Pros:

  • USA-made 
  • Available in blank, lined, dot, and grid interior options
  • Lays flat 
  • Lightweight 
  • Soft, foldable cover that you can draw on
  • Thick paper resistant to feathering, ghosting, and bleeding  

Cons:

  • Only available in one color – natural tan 

Specs:

  • Size: 7” x 10”
  • Material: Paper
  • Price Range: $25-$30 for a pack of three

Hemp Paper: Green Field Paper Company

Green Field Paper Company offers a variety of paper products, including this Hemp Journal. The company specializes in paper products that are tree-free, in other words, using non-wood fibers and other alternative materials to avoid cutting down trees. It is manufactured from acid- and chlorine-free archival quality paper in the USA. Additionally, the paper is 25% hemp and 75% post consumer recycled paper. 

I appreciated the detail on their website sharing who they are as a company. The company speaks to their commitment to sustainability with concrete examples, including their purchase of wind energy credits, reclaimed and recycled water used for manufacturing their products, and their achievement of winning San Diego Recycler of the Year for three consecutive years. I was also impressed by their claim that they are a zero-waste facility, re-pulping all their paper cuttings or using them for packing materials, donating usable scrap paper to local schools and organizations and recycling all excess custom printed materials that they produce. 

Pros:

  • Made in USA
  • Thick, textured paper 
  • Lays flat
  • Compostable and recyclable 

Cons:

  • Only available in one color – natural tan

Specs:

  • Size:  8.5″ x 11″
  • Material: Paper 
  • Price Range: $20-$30

Stone Paper: Agood Company 

black

Agood company produces a notebook made of stone paper. If you’re not familiar with this material, it’s exactly as it sounds — paper made of stone, using no trees, water, or added chemicals. It can be recycled in most residential recycling facilities, but from what I read, it cannot be composted. The reason for that is that the stone material is combined with a small amount of high-density polyethylene (HDPE), a type of plastic. However, according to the company, the notebook can also be photodegraded in nature, meaning the ultraviolet light from the sun can degrade the material after about a year.

What does this mean for you? This material may be better for notebooks you intend to keep for a long period of time (e.g., diaries you’ll hang onto as keepsakes), rather than for simple notes you may discard in the future, since the jury seems to be out on stone paper

The notebook itself is hard-covered with high-quality, smooth stone paper printed with soy ink. Keeping in line with the company’s ethos, it is shipped without single-use plastic. 

Pros:

  • Durable (tear resistant and waterproof) which may be well suited for outdoor adventures
  • Smooth writing experience due to grainless pages 
  • Lays flat
  • Available in blank, lined, and dot interior options
  • Multiple cover colors available 
  • Personalization available 

Cons:

  • Uses a small amount of high-density polyethylene (HDPE), a type of plastic
  • Not compostable
  • Smooth finish may not appeal to those who prefer some tooth in their writing surface

Specs:

  • Size: 8.26” x 5.8”
  • Material: Stone paper
  • Price Range: $30-$35

High Tech: Rocketbook

Bridging the old-school handwriting experience with a high-tech digital experience, you have Rocketbook with a variety of products, including their Executive notebook. Think of this as a whiteboard-style notebook that can be endless wiped clean, but with an accompanying mobile application to allow you to blast your notes to cloud storage. The Rocketbook application also allows for smart titles, tags, and for notes to be transcribed into text, though I’ll say the handwriting recognition is a bit hit or miss. 

I like using these for notes that are either temporary, such as task lists, or for meeting notes I’d like to digitally backup. For sentimental diaries or journals, I prefer using other options. 

I will add the caveat that I have found that the Pilot Frixion pens that you have to use with this notebook dry up quickly in my climate. I have found that the finer 0.5mm Pilot Frixion pens last me longer than the .07 pens.

Last, while this notebook is a great affordable option, Rocketbook also offers other products such as a hardcover vegan leather version, planners, reusable note cards, and more. 

Pros:

  • Ability to back up to a variety of popular cloud storage services
  • Lays flat
  • Easy to wipe clean
  • Smooth writing experience due to grainless pages 
  • Many cover color options
  • Recyclable at most municipal recycling centers 

Cons:

  • Requires a specific pen, Pilot Frixion, which dry up slightly more frequently than usual ink pens
  • Slightly plastic feel to pages
  • Smooth finish may not appeal to those who prefer some tooth in their writing surface
  • AI text transcription moderately accurate, though should improve in future updates to the app
  • Not compostable

Specs:

  • Size: 6″ x 8.8″
  • Material: Plastic
  • Price Range: $18-$30

E-Ink Tablets: Supernote

Supernote X series

E-ink tablets are another option if you want an even more high-tech option that’s similar to an iPad or Kindle, but more focused around notetaking without all the extra distractions. I’m personally a fan of the Supernote, which I purchased earlier this year. 

You may have heard of other similar E-ink tablets such as the Remarkable and the Boox. I opted for the Supernote because it didn’t have a subscription model and the company’s transparency around their planned software updates (they share their roadmap online). 

The Supernote is a lightweight tablet that uses a specialized pen for a purely digital writing experience. You can back up your digital notes to a cloud database. Additionally, they offer handwriting recognition to convert your handwritten notes into text. Beyond note taking, I use the Supernote for reading PDFs and Kindle books. 

Pros:

  • Not backlit, true notebook experience
  • Multiple sizes offered
  • Pen with ceramic nib will never need to be replaced 
  • Facebook page for users to share tips, templates, and feedback to company

Cons:

  • Black and white display
  • Glossy 
  • Smooth finish may not appeal to those who prefer some tooth in their writing surface
  • Not recyclable through municipal systems or compostable

Specs:

  • Size: 5.4“ x 7.4” 
  • Material: Plastic
  • Price Range: $300-$500