21 Best Eco-Friendly Journals: The Complete List

21 Best Eco-Friendly Journals: The Complete List

Dennis Kamprad

Read Time:13 Minutes


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Everything we buy has an environmental impact, for better or for worse. These days, consumers are waking up to the power of their choices, and the products you buy determine demand, and demand directs industry, so it is important to choose wisely. If you’re looking for a new, eco-friendly journal, you’ve come to the right place.

The best eco-friendly journals either use recycled paper or alternative materials from leafs to bamboo to unused textile fabric to powdered calcium carbonate (one of the most common minerals). These journals are both sustainable and durable products. And some even come with erasable pages.

The rest of this article will look at 21 wonderful journals that are all doing something to be kind to the earth. There are journals made from recycled materials, using creative and nontraditional materials, using stone paper, and some that could be the last journal you will ever buy. Whatever you’re looking for, there is a journal here for you.

These Journals Are Made of Recycled Materials

This list covers a wide range of products, from the Rocketbook Matrix Graph Notebook, which eliminates paper waste entirely, to the Karst Journal, which cuts down on water usage and deforestation by making its paper out of stone instead of trees. But let’s start with a more obvious category: journals that are made of recycled paper.

The use of recycled materials in one aspect of a product is often used to tout the eco-friendliness of the entire product as a whole. But sustainability is more complicated than that, and it is true that using recycled materials is not the be-all and end-all of green business. 

Many factors should be taken into account, such as the carbon emissions and energy sources of the production process and the recyclability of the object itself once it has been used.

However, using recycled paper is one way to significantly reduce the overall deforestation and water usage of the stationary industry. There are several incredible journals that are mostly or completely made of post-consumer recyclables, which means the materials have already been used once before they are reformed into your journal. This reduces the demand for trees by tens of thousands every year.

Here are some of the best journals made of recycled materials:

Ecojet Journal

For a journal with real personality, take a look at the exquisite Ecojet journals. These beautiful gifts are made with 100% post-consumer recycled waste paper to give products a second life and to reduce the number of trees being cut down to create them. The glue and ink are both vegetable-based, which means that far fewer harmful chemicals are released into water sources during production and decomposition.

To add to this, Ecojet increases their positive impact on the world through a buy one, give one scheme that gives books and journals to children in need around the world and donates portions of their profits to the charities Live It Earth and Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. What’s not to love?

Paperage Recycled Lined Journal

The paperage recycled lined journal is a little lined notebook, made of 100% recycled, post-consumer materials in both the paper and the cover. In a sector that uses a lot of microplastics and mixed materials, this journal is unique because it is both biodegradable and recyclable. With 160 pages and a lay-flat open design, this journal is a simple and effective solution for your needs.

Decomposition Journal

Their ink is soy-based to protect water sources, their covers are bright and creative, and their paper is 100% post-consumer waste recycled. These journals, notebooks, and composition books are an excellent and highly Instagrammable choice.

Their website suggests that their use of recycled paper and post-consumer materials has saved the equivalent of nearly “40,000 trees, over sixteen million gallons of wastewater, and thousands of tons of CO2” and solid waste, which is pretty cool. The environmental impact of their shipping is reduced because they are made in the United States and don’t have to travel as far to get to you.

Worthwhile Paper Journal

The Worthwhile paper journal is created by a down-to-earth husband and wife team in Michigan. They are committed to reducing their carbon footprint and choosing eco-friendly options wherever they can. The journal features a range of tasteful screen-printed covers and uses recycled cardstock and paper produced in a paper-mill running on 100% hydro-power.

This is one of those smaller companies with a lot of heart, doing as much as it can to reduce its footprint. You have the added benefit of supporting small businesses when you buy this journal! It would make an amazing gift.

These Journals Use Alternative Materials

The materials commonly used in traditional journals, paper made from tree-pulp, plastic, acids, glue, and leather, each takes an environmental toll. Trees are a precious resource on the planet, and yet to produce each week’s Sunday newspapers in the United States alone, 500,000 trees are cut down. Plastic is not biodegradable, while leather has a multitude of environmental effects, including releasing toxins into water sources during the tanning process.

These journals are created to break the mold. While potentially using some traditional materials, each one is also innovating new ways to replace the old methods and produce beautiful journals that are easier on the planet. They’re ditching tree pulp or leather and coming up with methods to turn things like agricultural waste into something helpful.

Lemome Cork Covered Journal

The Lemone cork covered journal creates its supple cover out of cork rather than leather, presenting a beautiful vegan alternative that produces less CO2 while it’s made. The paper is acid-free and recyclable, and the company claims that it is 20%-50% thicker than average paper, making for a smoother and more satisfying writing experience. The perforated edges allow for easy page removal, and the understated yet unique cover pattern would make it a perfect gift.

EcoPaper Journal

These EcoPaper journals are made with post-consumer materials and are completely tree-free. The company uses agricultural waste to create their paper and their fun designs. An interesting aspect of this is that it tells you what has gone into the journal you are buying, and there is a surprising range of options.

You can choose journals with paper made from bananas to coffee, or from mango to sugar-cane, and then have the satisfaction of knowing that your journal has saved trees by reusing waste products.

Truegrass Journal

Truegrass is a Taiwanese company seeking to bring nature into our everyday lives. Their beautiful notebooks are made with recycled paper and covers created from the agricultural waste product grass pulp, combined with recycled plastics. They claim to carry a faint, pleasant scent of grass, and their covers come in a range from geometric drawings of animals to water-color art.

They have a program called True-Cycle, where you can send your used Truegrass products back to them, and they will be recycled in-house to create new products. Their paper has been certified as recycled by the Forest Stewardship Council. They are also partners with 1% for the Planet.

By the Sea Organics Journal

By the Sea Organic Journals are lovely, patterned journals feature gorgeous cloth covers, and they are tree-free. That’s because they are created from paper made of cotton rags, industrial cotton textile remnants that are soaked, blended, and repurposed as paper.

The garment industry uses vast amounts of water and generates huge quantities of waste. In fact, Business Insider reports that 85% of all textiles go to the dump each year, so it is imperative to find creative ways to repurpose remnants and unwanted fabric. These delightful journals are one such way.

Sunny Leaf Wooden Journal

This Sunny Leaf wooden journal is largely biodegradable. Instead of the plastic sheeting or faux-leather of so many other journals on the market, this one avoids the use of plastic altogether by creating its covers out of sustainably sourced birch wood. If you’re looking for something unusual, you’ve found it here.

The sweet cover design works with wooden material to create a truly playful product. However, the paper is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, and both paper and cover are fully recyclable.

Pangaia Bamboo Journal

These minimalist, elegant journals from Pangaia Bamboo do not use trees. Instead, they are made of bamboo fibers and sugar cane production waste. The paper itself is carbon neutral, and Pangaia also plants trees. They’ve teamed up with SeaTrees, a charity in Indonesia, in order to plant one mangrove tree for every product sold.

These trees absorb up to one ton of CO2, nurturing unique and lush ecosystems along the way. So you’re actually contributing to the net number of trees in the world when you buy this journal. Crazy, right?

Bodhi Leaf Lokta Journal

A colorful and intensely unique journal, this would make an excellent gift. The paper of the Bodhi Leaf Lokta journal is handcrafted by local Nepalese artisans in the Himalayas. Instead of trees, this paper is made with leaves from the local lokta bushes, a plant that thrives in the high altitudes of the mountains.

This rough, heavy paper is flecked with the lokta pulp, each page telling the story of a hand-made product. The covers are hand-dyed with natural dye made from fruits and vegetables. Altogether, this beautiful journal would make a heartfelt gift or the perfect companion for a thoughtful journaler.

These Journals Are Made of Stone Paper 

Another alternative material that is making significant inroads into the stationary market is stone paper. There are so many great journals made of this material that it is only fitting to give it its own section on the list.

The Benefits of Stone Paper

One fairly recent innovation that cuts down on environmental impact in the production process is creating stone paper. Instead of making paper the traditional way from tree pulp, stone paper is about 80% powdered calcium carbonate, one of the earth’s most common minerals, bonded with a small amount of plastic.

The production process is more sustainable than traditional paper because it uses far less water, by some estimates, even 90% less, and produces significantly less CO2. It often also obtains the calcium carbonate as a waste byproduct from limestone quarries, and it uses no bleach or other acids in its production.

Stone paper is smoother than traditional paper, and some people prefer it for the glide of the pen across the surface in writing and drawing. It is more durable than other papers, much less prone to tear, and as a final benefit, it is waterproof.

The Challenges of Stone Paper

While their creation is eco-friendly, stone paper journals do present challenges when it comes to disposal. Technically, the paper can be recycled, but the combination of plastic and stone in the material means that many recycling plants are not equipped to deal with them yet.

They are not biodegradable, but they are photodegradable, which means exposure to prolonged exposure to direct sunlight will eventually break them down. 

The University of Southern Indiana estimates that ‘the average American uses 7 trees a year in paper, wood, and other products made from trees.’ So, while stone paper is not a perfect alternative to traditional paper, it is an exciting new frontier for reducing the number of trees we are destroying every year.

Could your next journal be made of stone paper? Let’s look!

imSTONE Journal

These imSTONE Journals have fun, clean, geometric patterned covers – great for studying or giving as gifts. The lined paper makes them perfect for taking notes. They’re slightly smaller than A5, so they are great for slipping a notebook in your bag and getting going. Of course, the stone paper means that you never have to worry about inconvenient spills causing your ink to run or notes to smudge.

Stonit Bullet Journal

If you’re looking for something sleek and classic, this is for you. This little Stonit Bullet journal gives you creative freedom in a pocket-size format, perfect for organizing your life. If black is a little boring to you, it also comes in three other lovely colors.

Keep in mind that the ink may need a few seconds more to dry for many stone papers than you are used to, so do be cautious at first to avoid smears.

Onyx and Green Spiral Notebook

Onyx and Green are a company making ecologically-friendly office and school supplies. This spiral notebook is lined with a perforated edge so that the usually tear-resistant paper can be ripped out with ease. Stone paper is also less prone to bleeding ink through, so this notebook is a great choice for sharpies or heavy note-taking.

Pictostone Blank Journal

If you’re looking for a journal with blank, unlined pages, this could be the one for you. The Picstone Blank Journal comes with all the benefits of stone paper, but with the added perk, a tree will be planted for every journal sold. Obviously, no trees are cut down to make these journals, and so rather than reducing the number of trees in the world, this brand actually builds the forests of the future.

Karst Journal

For something with a little more elegance of style, check out the Karst Journal. Along with peddling a beautiful product, Karst is certified with B-Corp, an organization that certifies businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. They are also carbon-neutral.

These Journals Could Be the Last You Ever Buy

The truth is that the most sustainable eco-friendly journal is the one you already own. With that said, probably the second-most eco-friendly journal is one that you can use for the rest of your life. These journals allow you to use them over and over again, eliminating the need to buy new journals. This is wonderful because it cuts down on the energy used to produce new journals and also the number of journals heading to landfill.

Paper Saver Journal

Perhaps the most creative and out-of-the-box idea on our list is the Paper Saver, which originated in Australia. This elegant faux-leather notebook ingeniously allows you to insert discarded or unwanted A4 paper. documents you no longer need, printed bookings, or official correspondence to form the notebook pages, allowing you to write on the blank side.

This cuts out the recycling middle man and prevents hundreds of sheets of paper from going to landfills or reentering this system, ultimately stopping the need for further notebooks to be bought.

The Paper Savers can hold 40-50 sheets of standard A4, giving you 80-100 pages to write on. This approach also means you are free to rearrange your pages at will, which may benefit creative projects. It’s quirky, but it is a great way to save paper. There are several attractive versions, including the option to have one monogrammed for an incredible gift or a treat for yourself.

Erasable Pages and Digital Uploads

Much of our documentation and communication are digital these days, and some companies are coming up with creative ways to help the journal transcend formats. These journals and notebooks feature erasable paper and options to upload your content to online storage.

It should be said that neither of the companies here in this section have rigorous sustainability policies governing their sourcing or manufacturing. However, these notebooks do have the potential to be the last you ever buy. By reusing them repeatedly, the long-term effect you could have is certainly eco-friendly, hence their place on this list.

Rocketbook Matrix Graph Notebook

If it’s graph paper you’re looking for, this could be an incredible asset. The Rocketbook Matrix Graph Notebook graph paper has a 0.25-inch grid, and it allows you to sketch or calculate manually as in any other journal or notebook.

But here’s the cool thing, with their accompanying phone app, you can scan the pages straight into any cloud storage that you may use. Then you can wipe off the ink with a simple damp cloth and start all over again.

When you buy one of these, it comes with a microfiber cloth and the particular Rocketbook pen required to write on the paper and dissolve the ink with water.

Now, the cover and spine of these notebooks are plastic, albeit recyclable, and Rocketbook themselves are not clear on the methods they use to make production itself sustainable.

They come in a variety of sizes and even have a planner with a range of paper types, so no matter what you’re after, Rocketbook is worth considering, especially if you like the idea of digitizing your documents.

Vellee Kystore Erasable Faux Leather Notebook

Working on a similar principle to the Rocketbook notebook, this Vellee Kystore Erasable Faux Leather Notebook is erasable and offers a partnering app to digitize your pages. Each sheet can be written on and erased 500 times, and the ink in the Pilot Frixion Pen that comes with the purchase is erasable with a damp cloth or exposure to heat, for example, by a hairdryer or using the eraser on the pen. Keep in mind that you can only use these specific pens on the notebook: normal pens will not be erasable. 

This is a great option for you if you want an erasable journal with lined, rather than squared or grid dot paper. The faux-leather cover and metal ring binder lie flat when opened and offer a different, warmer aesthetic than the more sleek and utilitarian Rocketbook.

Keep in mind for both of these products that you should avoid exposing your pages to sunlight or intense heat for prolonged periods, as this will cause the ink to fade and disappear.

These Journals Get an Honorable Mention

Some journals don’t fit neatly into any of the categories above, but beautiful products and real effort to decrease their impact on the earth mean that they deserve to be mentioned here.

Dingbats A4 Journal

Dingbats journals are Forest Stewardship Council certified and completely vegan, with biodegradable covers. They bring awareness to endangered animals by featuring a different one on the front of various tasteful covers. They offer a huge range of sizes, along with four different paper patterns, such as plain, lined, dotted, and squared. With an inner pocket, a bookmark, and a pen holder, this journal would be excellent for personal or professional purposes.

Appointed Stationary Journal

These lovely cloth-bound notebooks are made in the United States. The paper is acid and chlorine-free, and two-thirds of the energy used to produce it is renewable. The cloth covers are locally made and biodegradable, and most of their packaging is made from recycled materials.

Which Should You Pick?

21 eco-friendly journals. But which one is right for you? As a consumer, it is wonderful that you are researching mindful and responsible options for your next journal. The world has never needed thoughtful consumers more. While you may not think that an object as small as a journal can make much of an impact, the truth is that the paper industry is a significant player on the global environmental scene.

If you are just looking to play your part in supporting our planet by deciding to buy an environmentally friendly journal, then good for you. Anyone of the notebooks on this list will serve your purpose. But as you can see, there are many options. You have the opportunity to decide what your priorities are: when you think about being eco-friendly, what impact are you hoping to make?

Paper products make up 26% of waste in landfill sites. If this bothers you, the Paper Saver may be right for you. You are directly stopping paper from going into the trash. The reusable, digitalizing journals may also be an excellent choice. 

It is important to note that even if a product is made of recycled materials, it may not be recyclable. If you want to avoid sending yet more paper to landfill, make sure that your journal can be recycled as a whole, particularly if the pages and cover are recyclable; remember to check if the spiral spine is too.

The pulp and paper industry uses vast amounts of water. In fact, using more water to produce a ton of product than any other industry. It also releases toxic chemicals used in paper production into water sources, polluting ecosystems. If you feel passionate about this, consider a stone paper journal, which uses up to 92% less water in production than typical paper.

If it’s deforestation and the balance of CO2 emissions and absorptions in the world that you would like to see change, the stone paper, and other tree-free papers will probably be a priority for you as you pick out your next journal.

Final Thoughts

It is amazing to see so many companies turning their attention to the impact their products have on the world. We have a long way to go, but the number of sustainable options on the market today is unprecedented. Innovations help decrease water usage and pollution, and alternatives to traditional tree-pulp and leather journals are holding out a new vision of the future: and it’s bright.

For now, whether you’re looking for something to contain your creative musings, structure your professional plans, a gift for a loved one, or a treat for yourself, there is an eco-friendly journal for you.

Stay impactful,

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