If you are amongst those who can’t help gifting yourself and others new journals, diaries, planners and calendars as the new year rolls in, unmindful of the naysayers who scoff at the utility of these in the digital age, we see you — the world of stationery is irresistible! Ask a stationery lover, and they’ll tell you all about their splurging ways. But there’s also that tinge of guilt at this indulgence. After all, it takes about 24 trees to produce a tonne of non-recycled office paper. That’s what Conservatree’s study reports, which also suggests one tree makes only 8,333.3 sheets. Plastic and paper are two widely-used materials in stationery, leading to waste and landfill pollution. Another study by Green Journal states that globally, we’ve lost around 386 million hectares of forest from 2001 to 2019 for producing paper. Besides, stationery often comes wrapped in plastic, creating non-biodegradable packaging wastage.
That even the humble stationery, indispensable in our quotidian life, can play a significant role in the climate crisis is a sobering thought. We don’t realise this while discarding our disposable plastic pens or forgetting to change the printer settings to allow printing on both sides of the paper. As with much else, while we cannot wish away the use of stationery completely, we can, as consumers, become more aware of our consumption.
What’s The Solution?
Using recycled paper, using the stationery that we already have fully and reusing what can be reused are the starting points. As stationery fiends ourselves, we understand the temptation to grab new things off the aisle, but often we don’t put our entire stationery collection and art supplies to use. If they’re acting as mere collectibles, they’re better off at a store. Another way to reduce stationery hoarding is to cut down impulse buying, whether online or at physical stores. Instead of opting for cheap disposables, invest in high-quality pieces that’ll last longer. Remember the good old days when we’d fill our fountain pens with ink or get new refills for our pens? It’s time to revisit those sensible and simple actions.
While most stationery is still mass-produced, there is a growing trend of consumers and brands responding to the sustainability challenge and opting for eco-friendly stationery.
Eco-friendly Stationery: What Do We Know?
Unlike mass-produced products, eco-friendly stationery largely consists of recycled and biodegradable products. Most brands that champion sustainability now produce zero-waste products in slow and limited batches to avoid overconsumption and garbage. Made from materials like bamboo, hemp, recycled paper, or cotton — the objective of eco-friendly stationery is to ensure less waste is sent to the landfills. And then, there’s FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified paper which can either be recycled paper or ethically and responsibly sourced and produced paper. Now that FSC-certified products are available in India, you can check if your notebooks and other paper products carry the FSC chain of custody seal that is a mark of responsible processes followed from sourcing to production.
Now that FSC-certified products are available in India, you can check if your notebooks and other paper products carry the FSC chain of custody seal that is a mark of responsible processes followed from sourcing to production.
Source: Packaging World
France-based BIC — a leading stationery brand has set an excellent example with its Writing the Future, Together initiative. Pledging to ensure its packaging and products are 100 per cent reusable, recyclable, and compostable by 2025, BIC has already been leveraging renewable electricity to create its products. By 2025, it intends to operate on 100 per cent renewable electricity only. Apart from this, the brand intends to enhance its working conditions and carefully vet its raw material suppliers. As of now, they use eco-friendly packaging only — that too, when necessary. Between 2010 and 2020, BIC has cut down its water consumption by 45 per cent. While it has fully embraced the circular economy journey, it also intends to reform its plastic usage, and be a sustainable brand, in and out.
Remarkable — a UK-based eco-stationery brand recycles waste materials to craft its stationery. From paper cups and plastic water bottles to old CDs and newspapers, this brand has been recycling like a pro since the 1990s. And Indian brand, For Earth’s Sake, is founded by Vidur and Vidushi; when Vidur was celebrating his birthday in Kashmir, he found it distressing to watch garbage accumulate at a park. In no time, he took to cleaning the park, and his sister, Vidushi also joined him. They were moved enough to start For Earth’s Sake to ensure rags don’t end up on the streets. They offer plantable stationery, metal sharpeners, and notebooks. Even Faber-Castell is trying to be more eco-conscious and has launched plantable pencils made from recycled paper.
Hemp is another incredible material for stationery because hemp fibre fights decomposition and can be recycled about eight times. Just so you know, paper can be recycled only thrice, and unlike paper, hemp doesn’t fade or yellow with time. Plus, less water is consumed to produce stationery from hemp, and it doesn’t require bleaching or chemicals like paper does. Homegrown brands like Behemp and Hemis craft hemp-based stationery that you can shop online. Brown Living is yet another zero-waste online store that carefully curates its products. From hand-painted notebooks and plastic-free stationery kits to bamboo pens and plant-based adhesive tapes — Brown Living covers A to Z of our stationery needs. While you are at it, check out their range of plantable stationery, pen stands, recycled copier paper, and planners.
Indian brands like BioQ, Goli Soda, The Sagez, and Eco-friendly Jalebi also make great eco-friendly stationery. 21Fools is another Indian brand with more than just creativity up its sleeve. They do various eco-friendly products, from plantable crackers to pottery, but are mainly known for plantable stationery. You can grab A4 sheets, envelopes, and calendars made from post-consumption waste cotton; female artisans from Roopbas in Sanganer embed these sheets with cotton. We are also partial to the desk calendars from the NGO, WWF-India, that are FSC certified and feature great wildlife and nature photography.
The first principle of sustainable living remains the same – purchase only when you need it. But when you do buy it – and don’t grudge yourself the occasional indulgence! – consider supporting stationery brands that are upcycling and crafting unique pieces from trash, are using biodegradable raw materials or are ensuring that responsible practices have been followed in the sourcing and production of the products. We cannot eliminate consumption, but we can consume better.