The 10 Best Eco-Friendly Notebooks of 2021

Record your thoughts without the environmental waste.

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

The Rundown
Notebooks combining beauty, sustainability, and function while giving back.
Simple quality journals made with sustainable materials that you can afford.
Colorful, 100% post-consumer recycled notebooks that lay flat.
USDA Bio-preferred and made from sugarcane and post-consumer recycled paper.
Paper made from reclaimed agricultural and post-consumer recycled waste fibers.
Write and draw in this substantial hemp and post-consumer recycled paper journal.
Recyclable stone-based paper that’s easy on the environment from a carbon-neutral company.
Never miss a memory while supporting parks with these small sustainable notebooks.
Best Alternative Paper:
PooPooPaper Journals at Poopoopaper.com
Organic, hand-crafted and yes, made from repurposed animal poop.
The cutting edge hybrid that falls between paper and digital notebooks.

A fresh notebook is a special thing. Whether you use it for drawing, journaling, as a diary, or to organize your life or business, a notebook can be an outlet for your creativity, hold your deepest secrets, or become the foundation of your dreams for the future.

But keeping a notebook also means that you’re using paper. That could mean that you’re consuming trees, the water and chemicals needed to process and bleach the paper, and any other raw materials needed for binding. The pulp and paper industry generates an incredible amount of industrial air, water, and land pollution, for example accounting for about 5% of all industrial pollutant releases in 2015. The paper industry is also the fifth largest consumer of energy in the world, or 4% of the world's total energy use.

Thankfully, a number of companies today have responded to consumer demand for more eco-friendly paper options. You’ll find notebooks with recycled and alternative papers, eco-friendly covers and bindings, and even reusable notebooks.

We’ve put together this list of the best eco-friendly notebooks that are also well-made, functional and, for some, even beautiful.

Best Overall: Ecojot Jumbo Journals

Ecojot Jumbo Journal

There are so many things to like about Ecojot and its spiral-bound Jumbo Journal line, it’s tough to know where to begin. The family-owned company was founded in 2007 by brother and sister team Mark and Carolyn Gavin, produced in Toronto, Canada. Carolyn designs the beautiful artwork that graces each cover.

Ecojot paper is 100% post-consumer recycled paper made entirely from old waste paper in an award-winning sustainable paper mill in Québec, Canada. The mill is ranked the 17th most responsible company in the world by Corporate Knights.

Ecojot’s inks and glues are vegetable based, and all black and kraft board covers are sourced from sustainable suppliers in North America. Ecojot was awarded the Ancient Forest Friendly and Order of the Forest Awards by Canopy in 2012.

Perhaps the best part is that depending on which Jumbo Journal you choose, up to 50% of net profits from your purchase will be donated to a specific charity. For example, the Elephant Love Jumbo Journal and its matching planner benefit The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. Other journals benefit the RSPCA of Southern Australia, Live It Earth, Umoja Global and Center for the Arts, Port au Prince, Haiti. They also have a line celebrating strong women (view on Ecojot). The Buy 1/Give 1 campaigns have also resulted in the donation of thousands of books to kids in need all over the world.

You can feel good about your purchase of these gorgeous journals, no matter which one you choose.

Best Budget: Northbooks Journal

Northbooks Journal

When you use a lot of notebooks, or you just need a simple, quality notebook, check out Northbooks Notebooks. The minimalist design is available in an affordable range of sizes, soft and hard covers, and blank, ruled, lined, tear away, and non tear away. You can get the convenient approximately 5 x 8 inch soft cover notebook for just over $5.00. Perfectly portable and sturdy, this little notebook can follow you anywhere.

The paper used in their notebooks is sustainably sourced and Forest Stewardship Council Certified. The best part is that Northbooks gives back to the environment. By working with Eden Projects, for every order placed, a rainforest tree is planted. You can buy them individually and some come in packs of three or five.

Best for School: Paperage Recycled Lined Notebook

Paperage Recycled Lined Notebook

For school, you need a notebook that is low-profile yet sturdy to survive getting jostled around in your bag. The Paperage Recycled Notebook has a sturdy, textured recycled paper cover that comes in at least seven colors. The thread-bound, 180-degree lay-flat binding opens fully while you are writing or reading, and when closed is completely flat. It also includes a ribbon bookmark, elastic band closure, an expandable inner pocket, and sticker labels so you can personalize your notebook.

The 160 lined pages are made with 100% post-consumer recycled materials. Not just for school, this approximately 6-inch x 8-inch notebook works well for travel and the office, too.

Best Spiral-Bound: Roaring Spring Environotes College Ruled 1 Subject Recycled Spiral Notebook

Roaring Spring BioBased Environotes Notebook

Some of us want a good old-fashioned spiral-bound notebook that lays flat and can be doubled back upon itself. The Roaring Spring BioBased Environotes Notebook has 120 sheets of 9 x 11 inch college-ruled paper, which is also perforated and 3-hole-punched. The notebook also has a double pocket, available in four earth tone colors. But that’s where old-fashioned ends.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture BioBased and Bio-preferred paper is made from 30% sugarcane fiber and 70% post-consumer recycled paper that is manufactured in the United States. Roaring Spring Paper Products, named after its home city in Pennsylvania, is also a member of The American Sustainable Business Council, which advocates for policy change and building a prosperous, sustainable economy.

This notebook also comes in one-, two-, three- and five-subject versions with dividers between sections of 80, 100, or 160 sheets. If you like a smaller style, you can also find a one-subject notebook in the 9.5 x 6 inch size.

Best Tree-Free: EcoPaper Tree-Free Banana Paper Notebooks & Journals

EcoPaper Tree-Free Banana Paper Notebooks & Journals

If the loss of trees is what’s keeping you from using the notebooks, try tree-free notebooks and journals. EcoPaper Tree-Free Banana Paper Notebooks and Journals are made from the agricultural waste of products such as bananas, coffee, mangoes, lemons, sugar cane, hemp, and tobacco. The fibers are washed and ground and then mixed with a ‘base fiber’ made from 100% post-consumer recycled paper. The resulting paper is acid-free and has a light natural coloring and little bits of visible fiber. They offer a variety of bound and spiral notebooks in a range of animal and hero covers.

You can learn more about this fascinating paper-making process on EcoPaper's website. A bonus is that EcoPaper also has a Social and Economic Mission that includes fair wages and work practices and support of nonviolent ways to achieve peace and justice.

Best for Journaling: Green Field Paper Company Hemp Heritage Journal

Green Field Paper Company Hemp Heritage Journal

When recording your most personal thoughts and memories, you want a sturdy acid-free paper and a firm cover that will last. You might appreciate one of the Green Field Hemp Heritage Journals. This San Diego-based company has been creating notebooks and other paper products sustainably since 1992. It sells both homemade and machine-made hemp paper, as well as seed-embedded paper that can be planted after use. The Hemp Heritage collection of notebooks and journals offers archival quality, chlorine-free and acid-free paper made from 75% post-consumer recycled paper waste and 25% hemp fiber.

Also considered a tree-free paper, customers love that the Hemp Heritage journals are printed with soy ink on one side, so they can write and sketch in the same book. The durable cover will protect your sketches and thoughts wherever your journal tags along.

The 5.5 x 7.5-inch Letterpress series includes four different decorative covers with 70 sheets of lightweight paper. Or you can get the plain cover notebook with 60 pages in a heavier paper in size medium (7 x 7 inches) or large (8.5 x 11 inches).  

Best Waterproof: K'arst Hardcover Notebook

K'arst Stone Paper Notebook

There are lots of situations where your notebook needs to be waterproof. Whether you’re working or playing outdoors, paddling a sea kayak, or sweating through your pockets, a waterproof notebook will ensure you don’t blur or lose what you’ve written or drawn.

Karst Stone Paper is trying to make paper made trees a thing of the past. Using recycled stone, repurposed from mining and construction industry waste, Karst has created a line of beautiful, naturally waterproof notebooks. They don’t use water, trees, bleach, or acids to produce the paper pulp, which means less waste and fewer toxins in the environment.

Available in a variety of colors in hardcover and softcover, from pocket to standard 8.3 x 5.8-inch size, you can find the right waterproof stone notebook for your unique needs.

A Certified B-Corp, Karst has partnered with the One Tree Planted Foundation so that for each order, a portion of sales is used to help plant trees in North America, South America, Asia, or Africa. By partnering with non-governmental organizations around the world, the Foundation has already planted millions of trees. In addition, Karst uses solar energy to help power its process and has taken additional steps to become 100% carbon neutral.

Best Small: Gitchi Adventure Notebooks

Gitchi Adventure Notebook

When you’re on the go and you don’t want to lose your thoughts, memories, notes, or song lyrics in the moment, a small notebook that will fit in your pocket or bag is just the ticket. The Gitchi Adventure Notebook was designed with this exact purpose in mind. Gitchi is a sustainable-minded outdoor goods company that envisioned this small notebook to become a home for special moments, stories, and lessons from a life lived fully.

The notebooks are made with 100% post-consumer recycled paper that is Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Green Seal Certified for responsible forestry practices. Made using 100% renewable energy in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, each notebook is 3.5 x 5.5 inches with 48 pages of dot grid interior.

They’re available in three colors with the names Under the Stars, Into the Backcountry, and Through the Dark. The notebooks can be purchased individually or as a three-pack.

Gitchi takes sustainability a step further as well. When shipping, it purchases carbon offsets to help negate the emissions created by shipping its products. Also, through its Public Lands Pledge, the company donates 10% of proceeds from every purchase to support national parks, state parks, and other outdoor spaces.

Best Alternative Paper: PooPooPaper Journals

PooPooPaper Journal

While stone and banana papers are also alternatives to tree-based paper, this notebook needed its own category. Yes, PooPooPaper Notebooks and its other paper products are made from the undigested fibers extracted from animal manure — from elephants, cows, horses, donkeys, Thai buffalos, and other herbivores.

Cellulose is the key structural component of plant cell walls and vegetable fibers. While these animals have specialized digestive systems that can digest cellulose, they don’t completely break down all the fibers they eat. PooPooPaper collects the manure, boils it in water (without added chemicals) to remove non-fiber materials, then mixes the resulting fiber with other non-wood plant fibers like corn stalks, pineapple husks, hay, banana tree trunks, and mulberry bark, and then processes it into paper.

The result is 100% organic and sustainable, hand-crafted using age-old techniques, skills and traditions that are friendly to both people and the planet. PooPooPaper offers notebooks and journals in a range of odor-free colors and sizes. The paper itself has visible fragments and texture while being soft and taking ink well.

They company also donates a portion of profits to four different conservation and animal reserve organizations around the world.

Best Reusable: Rocketbook Everlast Mini Smart Reusable Notebook

Rocketbook Smart Reusable Notebook Mini

When you still love the joy of handwriting and drawing, but don’t need to preserve the original in paper format, a reusable notebook can help you bridge the gap between paper notebooks and digital storage.

Rocketbook Reusable Notebooks can be written and drawn in. Once they’re full, you simply use the Rocketbook app on your iOS or Android phone to capture and store each page digitally in whatever storage system you already use (Google drive, Dropbox, Evernote, OneNote, Slack, iCloud and more). Then you simply erase with the microfiber cloth provided and use the notebook again. The app uses AI technology that allows you to use Rocketbook’s smart titles, smart search, and email transcription so that you can easily name, search and later find your stored notes.

Rocketbook offers a range of sizes, decorative covers, and line, dotted, and blank. Each comes with a heat erasable Pilot FriXion pen that rolls on smoothly but disappears above 140 degrees. While you don’t want to leave this notebook in a hot car, it’s functional and paper-free under most other conditions.

Final Verdict

For sustainability, beauty and functionality, it’s hard to beat Ecojot Jumbo Journals that give back with each purchase (view at Ecojot). But you might also try the wave of the future, a Rocketbook reusable notebook (view at Amazon) or notebooks made from tree-free alternative papers like stone, banana and yes, even repurposed animal dung.

What to Look for in a Eco-Friendly Notebook

To choose the notebook that’s right for you, first consider which features you appreciate most. Do you prefer lined, dotted, grid or blank, a spiral, sewn, or glued binding, soft- or hardcover? Some prefer a hard cover if the notebook will be your constant companion and acid-free papers if you plan to preserve them for posterity.

Those who fill a lot of notebooks often appreciate low-profile, soft-covered notebooks that can be stored neatly on the shelf. You’ll also need to consider the notebook’s size, the weight (thickness and density) of the paper, and the number of pages. No matter what style works best for you, there’s a notebook that can hold your thoughts, ideas, art and dreams while treading lightly on the planet.

Why Trust Treehugger?

Lorraine Wilde has been filling notebooks for more than 30 years. She tries to learn as much as she can about the cutting edge of environmental technology. Lorraine is also proud to help consumers make healthy, informed, and environmentally-conscious choices to protect their families and our planet. She also holds a Master’s degree in environmental science and uses that education to frame her consumer choices one product at a time.