How One Notebook Company Is Changing The Game When It Comes To Paper Waste

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May. 26 2019, Updated 2:23 p.m. ET

It’s the stuff punch lines are made of: What is it about the world’s greenest notebook that makes it so environmentally friendly? It has no paper in it. Yet that’s exactly the point behind Paper Saver, the first notebook to come with absolutely zero pages inside. The company is selling front and back notebook covers connected with a spine and strap of elastic, for everyone who wants a new way to reduce paper waste before it even hits the recycling bin.

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Paper waste is a serious problem that’s not solved by recycling. 

The trouble with recycled products, the thinking goes, is they still take up space, require energy to produce, and still rely on a starting point that extracts something from the planet without giving anything back. In other words, there is still a serious “waste footprint” that comes from recycling.

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Half of all paper in United States offices ends up in the garbage, not the recycling. And 27 percent of everything in landfills is actually made of paper.

If you want a new way to do your part, try to ditch recycled products and simply use less. For example, that means instead of recyclable plastic water bottles, try carrying a refillable container. In this case, instead of buying notebooks filled with sheets made out of 100-percent recycled paper, you can experiment with a notebook that’s just a front and back cover, and put in all your old scrap paper as journal pages yourself. 

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Paper Saver was inspired by an authentic (and wasteful) office space. 

Australian-based architect Jon Yong knows what paper waste looks like. At his office in Melbourne, he watched draft sheet after draft sheet come off the printer, be looked over, and thrown in the recycling bin—even though the backsides of all those sheets of paper were totally untouched. 

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Yong decided almost a decade ago to put all that waste to good use, and designed a notebook for himself into which scrap paper could be inserted and folded over. At the time, it didn’t occur to Yong that this might be a contraption suited for a global audience.

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Today, each Paper save can hold 40 to 50 pieces of legal-sized paper, totaling 80 to 100 pages of useable paper. The Paper Saver notebook itself is made of a faux leather cover and back, stainless steel binding, elastic to hold the inserted paper down, and a nylon bookmark.

It's all the recycling with none of the energy use. 

The nicest part of Paper Saver is that you’re recycling without any of the associated energy: no collection of paper products, transportation to a recycling facility, the use of energy to remake the paper into something else, package and ship it to stores. Just grab the legal paper out of your junk mail, printer, and recycling bin, and slide it into the Paper Saver.

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Have trouble drawing or writing without grids or lines on the page? Paper Saver’s got you covered. The company offers free downloads of each.

And while the $22 price tag might feel steep, consider what you’d spend on journals over the course of your lifetime. That number can now start and stop at around 20 bucks. And if you want to save the paper after you’ve written or drawn in it, just slide it out of Paper Saver and into a file for safe keeping.    

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