Calepino... mean, green writing machines

by Amanda Fleet

I love stationery. That's no big surprise. But I also love this planet we're on and over the last few years have become acutely aware of how much plastic is used, everywhere. It hasn't stopped me loving stationery, but it has made me think more than twice before buying products that aren't biodegradable. It's difficult. Even when I think I've found something great, it then arrives in shrink-wrapped plastic.

Enter Calepino!

Stu kindly sent me a pack of three Calepino pocket notebooks a while ago and I've finally found time to play with them. They're made of 100% recycled (and recyclable) stuff! Even the packaging around the three notebooks was cardboard, rather than shrink-wrap plastic. To quote their (slightly Google-translate) website:

To produce trying our hardest to respect the environment, is one of the biggest challenges that CALEPINO face. The raw materials used (cardboard and paper) are of high quality and 100% recycled. The cardboard shaped for the covers and the cases all bear the Eco-label “Ange Bleu”, and entirely recycled and void of any dangerous substances. The paper comes from durable forests, the paper is whitened without any chlorine and comes from 100% recycled fibers (FSC, PEFC and ISO 14001 labels). The product is printed in joy and happiness on Heidelberg printing machines with vegetable-based ink. Furthermore, in order to avoid using plastic, the notebooks are not stored in packaging film but in recycled cardboard.

So what are they like?

Well, the set I had was one lined, one grid and one plain (No.s 1, 2 and 3 respectively). The branding is minimalist - colour-coded stripes with Calepino and Fabriqué en France on them. Between the stripes it says which kind of notebook it is: No. 1 is lined (red), No. 2 is squared (green) and No. 3 is plain (blue).

The stripes continue to the back of the notebook. The three books came in a cardboard pack and there is some information (in French) about the production and specifications inside the pack.

The line spacing in the lined notebook is 6 mm with a top margin of 18 mm and a bottom margin of 7 mm. The lines are red and very fine. In the squared notebook, the grid is 5 mm and the lines are green. On the inside front cover is a space to put your name, address etc. (I never do...). At the back is some more information in French.

The notebooks are 9 cm x 14 cm and the cover and the cardboard carton are made from a sturdy 325 gsm card stock. All of the inks used are vegetable-based and the paper is whitened without the use of chlorine. The corners are rounded and there are 48 pages per notebook.

The cover feels really nice and solid. The kind of cover that will withstand being shoved in a back pocket, or knocked about in a bag, and it would just shrug (in a Gallic way no doubt, possibly also saying "Boff" at the same time).

Being 100% recycled, I have to say that the paper doesn't play terribly nicely with fountain pens, unfortunately. There is a teensy amount of feathering with my more obnoxious nibs, but the show-through and bleed-through is too much for me (I do recognise I am quite picky though!). It's less than many other notebooks though! Rollerballs/gel pens are largely okay though. I removed the centre pages, because I hate having the pen test pages left in a notebook...

Here's the reverse of the page:

But, the texture of the paper is amazing - slightly toothy and lovely for pencils. I tried a variety of pencils on the paper. Probably my favourite was the Pebble Stationery pencil, but all of them were great. Sometimes paper can be too smooth for a decent experience if you write with pencil, but these were superb.

They probably play very nicely with biros, but I don't really possess any, so I can't say!

If you're looking for a set of notebooks that look stylish, won't break the bank, are ruggedly built and have amazing green credentials (and no plastic!) then these are the guys for you. They're in the shop. Pop over and check them out.

Lined set of three

Squared set of three

Plain set of three

Dot grid set of three

Other Calepino products