What Makes Ecosystem Paper Notebooks Green Instead of Greenwash?

They were holding a stationery show on the floor above ICFF at the Javits Center in New York, and every door had a sticker advertising an "Ecosystem" green notebook. My first reaction was surprise that the name was available, and second was that it was probably greenwash- a notebook with a name like that?

But in fact, it is an interesting story of what happens when a company designs a product to be green from the ground up.

The notebooks are designed to compete with Moleskines, beloved of (rich) architects and writers everywhere. Those Italian notebooks are a pleasure to hold. The Ecosystem books feel almost (but not quite) as luxurious. But the Ecosystem books are made from 100% post-consumer recycled paper. And they don't stop there; they source every part of the book carefully. Each book has an identification number; you enter it at the website and they give you the exact ingredients of your own book. I entered mine and got this:

Note the employee count in the table above. They have a local economic story to tell as well:

Producing ecosystem entirely in the US was not just about ecological footprint, it was about constructing a business using American dollars that stay in America. The US economic environment has been unquestionably damaged as production moved out of the country over the past decades. ecosystem has attempted to un-do a small piece of that damage by working with a network of manufacturers in the US to produce these journals, planners and notebooks.

They go on, with full instructions on how to recycle your book. But people don't usually do that with this kind of notebook; they are designed to be kept. For many, losing one would be a tragedy, the paper version of a hard drive failure without backup. So they offer a lost and found; you can register your book or just look it up. I loved the comment from one person who found a book: "has some awesome poetry - you should publish!"

While I love my Moleskine, (and now my Ecosystem) I don't use it very much any more; I looked inside and my last entry was notes from ICFF in 2009. Now I use Evernote as my notebook on my Blackberry and computer. I suspect that I am not alone, and that the market for such things is shrinking; the search feature doesn't work very well.

But the Ecosystem notebook doesn't use any power and will probably hold its information a lot longer. More at Ecosystem

And who knows, maybe next year Jaymi will write about Ecosystem hacks instead of 6 Awesome Moleskine Hacks

Tags: Designers | ICFF/ New York Design Week