One of my big goals for my life is to be more environmentally friendly. I’ve been thinking about the whole paper notes vs. iPad debate and others like it. For example, instead of going out and buying a Tesla or Prius, it’s actually better to keep the car you currently have provided it isn’t a massive gas-guzzler like a Hummer (or some other mechanical abomination)! So, I’m keeping my 2003 Camry until the wheels fall off, and then, I’ll replace those wheels! Anyways, the iPad vs. Notebooks debate is sort of inconclusive. But what is clear is that if you’re using notebooks made with some fraction of PCW (Post Consumer Waste), then that drastically reduces the environmental impact of paper note taking. I used the Paper Calculator from the Environmental Paper Network for the analysis. Long story, short – it makes a big difference if your notebook is made from recycled materials. This article explains a lot.
The journals are around A5, and what I think of as a traditional notebook – similar to my medium sized Moleskine – a notebook I wouldn’t actually recommend.
This journal comes in lined, dotted, and squared rule which is noice!! Its paper is made out of stone which is interesting. I think this notebook is made entirely from recycled stone, and it looks like it’s 100% recycled. $25
This journal is made with 100% recycled FSC certified paper. This seems like a great option for a journal. The cover is a nice canvas-type texture that I think would feel really nice to hold. I know this sounds kooky, but there’s an intangible feeling that tells me this notebook would just be really ~nice~. The only downside is that it does not come with a ribbon bookmark. $26
This pick is more of an honorable mention than anything else. This notebook, from my research, doesn’t seem to be made out of any recycled materials. This is probably the best option if you’re looking for a bullet journal as it has 100 gsm paper, numbered pages, and 2 ribbon bookmarks. Dingbats also donates 2% of their UK sales to the WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature). $23
Large Notebooks for Note Taking
These notebooks range from a B5-ish size to traditional US Letter size notebooks. I would typically use notebooks of this size to take class notes for school.
This notebook is made from 70% PCW and 30% sugarcane paper. Linked above are the “Bio-Based” notebooks. $9 for 80 sheet notebook & $5 for a 70 sheet notebook The Roaring Spring brand also offers the “Sugar Cane” line of notebooks which feature paper that is made from at least 30% PCW. $5
This notebook’s paper is made from 100% recycled fiber, and the notebook is made from 50% PCW. I think this would be a fantastic option for class notes. The only downside is that it only comes in ruled paper. $6
This notebook is made from 100% post consumer waste recycled paper! It literally doesn’t get any better than that! Additionally, these notebooks come in wide ruled, college ruled, dotted, and graph (aka grid or squared) pages. I have one of these in the composition notebook style, and I love it. Honestly, I haven’t used a lot of it because the cover is so beautiful that I’m waiting for the perfect occasion or class to use it. $9
This notebook is made from 100% recycled fibers at least 30% of which is post consumer. Again, this notebook only comes in college-ruled which is a bummer. $7
This notebook is made from 100% recycled fibers although it does not specify how much of that is PCW. This notebook is unique in that it has 100 sheets (200 pages). All the other notebooks from this post have 80 sheets, so if you have a class that is notes intensive, then this notebook might be your best bet. $8
Taking notes is an important part of learning and content acquisition. I hope this post made it a bit easier for you all (and myself) to find greener alternatives. I was surprised by how much of a difference a notebook made from post consumer waste versus a new notebook makes on the environment. For example a notebook made from 80% PCW releases 4.8 pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere compared to 9.0 pounds released into the atmosphere by a notebook containing 0% PCW.
Our decisions matter.
I’m working on being more environmentally friendly, and I hope you will join me.
P.S.: S/O to my Environmental Science Teacher, Mr. B, for opening my eyes, so my own complacency.
Environmental impact estimates were made using the Environmental Paper Network Paper Calculator Version 4.0. For more information visit www.papercalculator.org.