Sometimes it’s not enough to just have some unique or cool office supplies, it helps to know that you are also using environmentally friendly office supplies, and supporting American jobs. In the case of these journals from ecosystem and Barnes & Noble, you can accomplish both of those goals. The folks at ecosystem were kind enough to send over these three samples for me to review, but for now we are only going to focus on two of them, the Author and the Artist journals. The planner, also known as the Advisor will get its own review in the next few days.
The naming for these journals is a little more creative than the usual “ruled” and “blank” description you are accustomed to. The Author is basically a lined journal, while the Artist is a journal with completely blank pages inside, Im sure I dont need to connect the dots for you here, but blank pages to draw on, and lined pages to write on would make you either an author or an artist. Pretty simple, but also pretty clever. In addition to the clever names, you have probably already noticed the nice bright colors of these journals, I dont think you could lose one of these in a backpack or a desk if you tried.
One thing I really like is when notebooks or journals have their branding or logo somewhere but as subtle as possible, and the ecosystem journals do just that. It’s almost like having a watermark on the back of the journal, and the logo itself is very clean and non obtrusive, and since it’s a picture of a leaf, it implies to people who happen to see it, that you are probably using some sort of earth friendly journal. This close up of the logo doesnt quite do the color of the journal justice, its more of a construction cone orange when you see it in person, I think I just need to work on my photo taking skills.
Inside each of the ecosystem journals is a sturdy pocket made from some heavier weight card stock to store your extra documents and other items. Both the front inside and back inside covers have a pattern of the ecosystem logo printed on them that is basically a subdued shade of the color of the cover. Something else you will also find on the back inside cover is the unique ID that serves as a way to identify your journal. Following is a close up picture of that unique ID.
The unique IDs printed inside of each of these environmentally friendly journals allows you to register the product so that if you lose it, someone can return it, and you can also use the number to find out some very intricate detail about how and where your notebook was made, along with the details of what exactly makes it such an environmentally friendly product. The details on how environmentally friendly (100% post-consumer recycled paper) get amazingly granular after you enter your information on the ecosystem site. Not only will you learn about the processes, materials, and resources used/saved in the manufacture of your journal, but you can also find out exactly where the components were made, and how many workers are employed in the US for that specific purpose. It’s all pretty amazing stuff to be able to track a specific product at this level of detail. The below screen-shot gives you a glimpse of the first level of detail, but there is even a second level of detail you get when you click on each of the items in the far left column. The fact that there are at least 269 people involved with the production of this journal reminds me of the classic economic tale, “I, Pencil.”
Not only are the journals made from environmentally friendly sources, but everything on the journals including the cover, the elastic strap, and even the plastic shrink wrap are designed to be recycled when you are done with them which, is all explained here.
In the short time that I have been in possession of these journals, I’ve been very impressed with their quality. The binding seems very sturdy, as does the back pocket, and you can even see the quality in the elastic closure strap and the ribbon bookmark. Both the bookmark and the closure are made from (environmentally friendly) a nice sturdy and hefty material that I have no doubts about lasting the life of the notebook, unlike some other journals I’ve used where you get nervous every time you pull the elastic closure back around the cover.
I’m not sure if the close up photo helps to convey the durable feel that the bookmark and elastic closure have, but they are very nice in comparison to other journals in this class.
Also, here is a quick close up of the binding of the Author journal.
So now that you have an idea whats going on with these journals, I think it’s about time to take a look at how they actually perform when you write in them. I tried to use a few different pens in this, I think I managed to cover a Sharpie Pen, a fountain pen, a rollerball, a gel pen, and a ballpoint. Each of these pens worked out really well on the paper. The paper is a nice bright white that holds ink very well, and is smooth while writing on it. None of these inks feathered on the paper, nor did they bleed through or show through. I would say that the strongest test of this paper was with my Pelikan M215 fountain pen, because fountain pens and fountain pen ink tend to be the hardest on most papers, but it still held up quite well. You might have an issue if you use a fountain pen with a wider nib, or ink that tends to flow generously, but I would definitely consider these notebooks fountain pen friendly.
The above writing sample shows multiple different pens used in the ecosystem journal, and they all performed very well. The top heading was written with an orange Sharpie Pen, then next came a Uniball Signo DX, and after that was the Uniball Jetstream Ballpoint pen, and the brown in the middle was written with a Pelikan M215 with fine nib and Levenger Cocoa ink, the last ink was a repeat of the Uniball Signo, but I just wanted to get some green in there. I was also very impressed with the perforations in the Artist journal (the Author journal did not have perforated pages) because they tore out SO easily, and so cleanly. Normally when I rip something with perforations, I fold back and fort a few times to ensure a clean separation, but with these journals, I folded ocne in one direction, and that was it, it tore out VERY cleanly, and you almost couldn’t even tell it was perforated.
Overall I am impressed with these journals. Often you will find yourself buying into the stereotype that an American made product might be inferior, and that a notebook made of recycled paper might not be that great to write on, but from my experience with these ecosystem journals, those statements couldn’t be further from the truth. If you are in the market for a new journal or planner, check out the whole Ecosystem Collection or check out your local Barnes & Nobel because these are definitely worth a try. It also doesnt hurt at all that these are so environmentally friendly, and help to employ some of your fellow US citizens in times of such horrible unemployment numbers.
Update 12/2/2009: If you like this ecosystem environmentally friendly journal, check out the review of their environmentally friendly planner too.
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