Despite living in an age when everything seems to be digitized, the paper industry remains a force to be reckoned with. While one might assume that paper is in decline, the opposite is actually true: paper use is expected to increase by 46% by 2040! Fortunately for the trees, there are some really cool new innovations in tree free notebooks for those of us who still appreciate the analog life.
The problem with paper
Traditionally, paper has been made from wood pulp, together with chlorine; the latter is used in the bleaching process and contains toxic chemicals that are cancer-causing agents.
The paper industry is not a particularly clean one, and the normal paper production process of converting wood to paper is very energy-intensive, adds harmful chemicals into the environment, and wastes water.
Paper also takes up considerable space in U.S. landfills and contributes to deforestation, which in turn hurts the environment and contributes to global warming.
Attractive tree free paper alternatives
Thanks to the advancement of more sustainable technologies, wood pulp paper is no longer the only kind of paper available. Today there’s growing interest in tree free, eco-friendly paper.
There are many different sources of fiber for tree free paper. This includes wild plants and fiber crops like jute, flax, hemp, and bamboo, and agricultural residues like husks, straw, and sugarcane bagasse.
Today, paper can be made from cotton linters or rags, mango leaf, banana bark, tamarind, coconut, and straw. There’s also limestone paper, which is made from calcium carbonate bonded with some high-density polyethylene resin, but perhaps the most surprising type of alternative paper is made from animal poop, such as elephants, cows, and donkeys.
Alternative paper, or paper made with recycled materials, is good all around: It produces less greenhouse gas emissions, less wastewater, less energy, less solid waste, and less forest destruction.
Given the impact of switching from traditional paper to alternative sources, I’ve created this round-up of my favorite eco-friendly and tree free notebooks and journals so you can still take notes, brainstorm, and write down your thoughts, and feel good about it too.
Here are my 7 Favorite Tree Free Notebooks!
1. A5 Notebook from A Good Company
If you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind A5 stone paper notebook, this is it. I absolutely love these notebooks, I use them every day for writing down notes during meetings, brainstorming, doodling, and journaling. The white paper is so smooth, it just feels amazing to write on. I have also given them as gifts to family members and they were a huge hit.
Known as the first climate positive notebook ever, the pages are made from recycled stone. If you’re not familiar with stone paper, essentially leftover stone is turned into paper through a clean process that uses solar energy only and no water or chemicals. Stone paper is extremely durable as well as grainless, which provides for a luxuriously smooth writing experience.
The pages of this stone paper notebook are also wrinkle-free and tear and water-resistant. Seriously—you can spill a glass of water on the page and then just wipe it off.
These stone paper notebooks don’t result in deforestation, harmful chemical use, or wasted water, and they’re perfectly suitable for use in difficult outdoor settings, so you can take this notebook on the road with you. It would make the perfect traveler’s journal, as it’s made to last. They’re available with lined, dotted, or blank pages and in six different colors.
2. POOPOOPAPER Notebook
These incredible sustainable notebooks are organic, chemical- and tree-free, and handcrafted using time-honored skills, traditions, and techniques. The alternative-sourced paper is made from 85% poop fibers mixed with agricultural waste fibers, including corn husk, hay, sugar cane, coconut shells, and banana stock.
As the name suggests, the company uses real poop from elephants, horses, cows, and donkeys in a complex process which yields a range of paper styles, from textured and rough to smooth and refined. Don’t worry though: the paper is odorless and suitable for a wide array of inks, not to mention arts and crafts.
They offer a beautiful collection of handmade tree-free journals. There’s a great selection of hardcover notebooks with various designs and for a plethora of occasions, so you’re sure to find exactly what you’re looking for.
Check out the POOPOOPAPER Notebook
3. Rocketbook Reusable Notebook
This modern, eco-friendly journal may look and feel like a regular notebook and offer the usual “pen and paper” experience, but it’s a lot more than that.
The pages are made from synthetic materials, which are entirely smooth, and when you use a pen from the Pilot Frixion line, you can write as usual but you can also wash away your writing with a bit of water without ruining the page.
This makes them a great candidate for a travel notebook or for any other purpose where they might experience more wear and tear.
If you’re prone to losing things, this is definitely the right soft cover notebook for you as you can send your handwritten notes to cloud services like Dropbox, Evernote, OneNote, Slack, iCloud, Google Drive, and your email, and you can also use the Rocketbook application, available for both Android and iOS.
Even better, specialized AI technology lets you use Rocketbook’s smart titles search so you can find your notes more easily. Time to say goodbye to post-it notes!
These environmentally-friendly spiral-bound notebooks come in six different formats, from dot grid to lines, plus several include spaces for your task list, weekly planner and monthly calendar.
Since you can write your notes, organize them, scan them and then erase them and reuse your notebook, this could very well be the last notebook you ever buy! How’s that for a sustainable purchase?
4. Green Field Paper Company Notebooks
Green Field Paper Company should definitely be on your radar if you’re looking for eco-friendly notebooks. They have a small but high-quality selection of acid and chlorine-free journals with 100% recycled paper made with 25% hemp and 75% FSC-certified post-consumer pulp. I especially love the paper’s organic look, thanks to the tiny flecks on each page, which represent the hemp fibers.
The paper is 100% biobased, archival quality, available in four different weights, and made in the USA at a special hydroelectric-powered mill. These natural-looking journals are available in different sizes and with various flower-inspired covers.
5. Mr. Ellie Elephant Dung Notebook
This lovely handmade, handmade notebook comes all the way from Sri Lanka and is perfect for environmentally conscious individuals. The wire-bound book comes with 50 sheets of unlined paper, and I especially love it because it supports fair trade and local artisans.
The company’s eco paper products are all 100% recycled and are made from 30% fiber from elephant dung and 70% recycled paper. Everything is acid-free and organic, and no toxic chemicals or trees are used in their processes. Even better, they use their own process with all-natural vegetative binding agents and water-soluble salt dyes for color.
One aspect I really love about these notebooks is that they give you the ability to give back. Every purchase you made helps boost demand, which offers their workers more opportunities to create jobs, protect trees, and save elephants.
6. Ecopaper Journals
These journals are produced in Costa Rica using post-consumer waste and plantation agricultural waste fibers. They come in a range of beautiful nature-inspired hard covers made with post-consumer kraft paper board, and the tree-free pages are eco-friendly, and made with banana, sugar cane, hemp, coffee, mango or lemon. This means they were made from either banana plant bark or peel fibers, waste from bagasse, coffee, etc. that would have otherwise gone to waste. Additionally, the paper is made with no chlorine or chlorine derivatives and no toxins, bleaches or chemicals.
The notebooks are bound with Italian wire and are the perfect size to keep your personal notes, jot down plans and keep track of memories. But of course, their greatest appeal is that they’re made from recycled materials and do not add to the destruction of forests.
Check out the Ecopaper Journal
7. Pangaia Tree Free Notebooks
These 64-sheet A5 size journals are tree-free and made with carbon neutral paper. The cover of this bright orchid purple book is cardboard, which was produced responsibly, and all of the pages are made from a combination of sugarcane production waste and bamboo fibers.
This notebook has a plain interior, which lends itself to easy note taking, and it has an inner pocket on the front cover, which is the perfect place to store loose notes.
I particularly like this company for all the good it’s doing. They make a wide range of products and are always innovating to protect the environment. For example, they recently added new materials like seaweed fiber and grape leather to their collection, and in 2020 they planted more than 400,000 mangrove trees.
Check out the Pangaia Notebooks
If you’re looking for a new notebook, hopefully we’ve inspired you to opt for one of these unique, eco-friendly and tree free notebooks and journals.
Whether you’re looking for blank paper or a college-lined notebook, whether you want to create a photo album or make your own guided journal, and whatever your preferred paper type, there’s a zero-waste, carbon-neutral, climate positive product made from post-consumer recycled materials on this list for everyone.
These tree free notebooks would also make the perfect gift for any occasion. Now all you have to do is grab your favorite fountain pen or gel pen (or, even better, an eco-conscious pen) and start writing on that eco-friendly paper!
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