Reusable Notebooks Reduce Paper Waste

I’m guilty. Whenever I see a blank notebook with a cute cover on it—you know, like a pretty marble swirl, a sweet but overstated inspirational saying, or a sweet but overstated inspirational saying printed over a pretty marble swirl—I just have to have it! Then more often than not, it sits on my bookshelf being pretty, but not truly serving its purpose. So, now I have three problems: 1) I have a ton of half-used notebooks, journals, and diaries cluttering up my space; 2) all my notes are disorganized because they’re in order of whichever pretty notebook was closest to me when I needed to write something; and 3) I don’t know what to do with all the notebooks IF they ever get used. There’s all the paper waste of the notes I no longer need and the disorganized leftovers I might need at some point eventually. Sure, I can type everything out, but who wants to do that? Some of us still like the idea of writing things down, and in some cases it makes more sense than jotting it down on a laptop or phone.

Enter the reusable notebook!

I first heard about reusable notebooks from a friend. Yes, it sounds crazy. How can a notebook be reusable? What do you do with your notes if you want to keep them? Sliced bread, people landing on the moon … now, a reusable notebook? What kind of madness is this?!? Then I did some investigating. It turns out there are several different types of reusable smart notebooks that can help cut down on paper waste, reduce clutter created by an endless amount of journals, and help you organize your thoughts digitally. Some notepads are like digital tablets: They are expensive and require a special pen and a charger (e.g., the Moleskine smart writing set notebook). Some require stickers to organize notes. Some even require microwaves! Yes, microwaves. I settled on one reusable journal called Rocketbook, not because it’s necessarily the best notebook out there, but because it was on sale and it got good reviews from other buyers.

Since, as far as I know, it is not available in stores, I ordered it online. Cringe, I know! Packaging waste is a big issue, and this one was a doozy. It came in a plastic foil-lined zipper bag within a non-recyclable, but thankfully reusable bubble wrap envelope. There was also a microfiber (also a growing waste problem) cloth inside another plastic sleeve. Hey, I tried. I bought a reusable notebook to cut down on paper waste and ended up with two plastic sleeves, a bubble wrap envelope, and carbon emissions for the travel from across the country. *Facepalm*

Here’s the good news. So far, this notebook is awesome! The paper doesn’t feel exactly like paper because it isn’t paper, but it does feel like writing on paper for the most part. While it works similar to a dry erase board in that it can easily be erased by wiping it with water and the included cloth, it will not wipe or smudge off if you touch it (after the recommended 15-second drying period). The ink can also be removed with the pen’s eraser—that part really took me back to 1996 erasable pen nostalgia. Each page is numbered and contains a QR code, a grid, and cute little symbols on the bottom reminiscent of Lucky Charms —all are supposed to help keep you organized with assistance from the downloadable app.

Each symbol on the bottom can be assigned to an electronic account. For example, the diamond might be team meeting notes that you would like to email or drop into a special folder for your co-workers when scanned by your phone. If there are multiple pages, the QR code will put the pages in order for you. Once you are done scanning the pages, you can count on your notes being organized in folders you designate for easy access. Then you can erase the pages so you can reuse them for years to come. The journal is compatible with certain pens and highlighters which can be found in stores and can also be used on similar notebooks like the Elfin notebook, the Zohulu notebook, and the RUBook—all comparable products to the Rocketbook.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with my purchase and excited to see how functional it will be in my work and personal life in the long run. Time will tell!

— TC Clark
Posted on Jan 10, 2019

Summary: I first heard about reusable notebooks from a friend. Yes, it sounds crazy. How can a notebook be reusable? What do you do with your notes if you want to keep them? Sliced bread, people landing on the moon … now, a reusable notebook? What kind of madness is this?!?