How To Have an Eco-Friendly Journaling Practice

And how it does and doesn’t make a difference

Deepti Kannapan

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Photo by Calista Tee on Unsplash

It’s common among journalers to worry about wasting paper. Some feel like they need to save their ‘nice’ notebooks for important thoughts worthy of the thick paper and ornate covers. Others choose to go paperless for environmental reasons, and do their journaling on a tablet instead.

I’m somewhere in the middle.

When I use a paper notebook, I want it to be for a valuable purpose — something I’ll want to preserve and re-read. Doing more mundane tasks like daily planning on paper feels wasteful, not to mention the piles of clutter it will create. That’s part of why my diaries and idea notebooks are on paper but my planners are digital.

Is there a place for paper in a hypothetical, sustainable future?

I like to think about the possibilities for a best-case, perfectly environmentally-friendly economy.

If we completely eliminated all the current technologies and processes that cause environmental destruction, what would take their place, and how would the new technologies work together?

We are, of course, a long way from that world. But we’ll never get there if we can’t imagine the possibilities. And there are interesting engineering problems along the way to chew on.

In that ideal economy, there is no place for any material that isn’t infinitely recyclable. So, we need to either develop a scalable process for breaking down plastic or stop using it.

In contrast, I can make a case for keeping paper around, in some form.

In many applications, paper can replace plastic as a disposable packaging material. It’s both recyclable and compostable, so it’s easy to dispose of even when it comes in contact with food. Unlike most recyclable materials that run into contamination issues.

The market for paper may need to be sized up or down, it may need to incorporate more alternative materials into its supply (like agricultural waste, bamboo, and lokta), and may need to adopt sustainable forestry practices. But I don’t think it needs to be eliminated.

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Deepti Kannapan

Painter, occasional cartoonist, aerospace engineer. Writes about sustainable technology, creativity, and journaling.