for the love of trees

This Shabbat, the calendar works out so that it is also Tu b’Shevat, aka the new year for trees. This is a time that is generally marked with ecological awareness. I’ve cared for and written about the environment for about thirty years now (thankfully you don’t have access to those early writings, though they were pretty good for an elementary school student). I’m surprised and dismayed to discover I’ve been mostly silent here about this topic.

I use quite a significant amount of paper each year. How do I reconcile that with caring for the environment?

photo of several Clairefontaine and Rhodia notebooks in PSG's collection.

My favourite notebooks are from Clairefontaine and Rhodia. Why do I love them so very much? They are made from pulp and wood by-products from forests independently certified by PEFC or FSC as sustainably managed.


Clairefontaine manufactures their own paper. This provides them complete control over the entire process. They’ve reduced their water consumption, the paper is chlorine-free, they use natural inks (which I believe they purchase), supply most of the energy (80%) necessary for the manufacturing process, and are committed to reducing waste.

These are important things to me, every day. These issues should be important to you as well. If we don’t take care of what we have today, there will be nothing left for tomorrow.

This ראש השנה לאילנות I decided to help raise awareness about how one company is working to make a difference. Another company doing so is Tom Bihn, with their UPS shipping Carbon Neutral Program.

Do you have a favourite company that is doing so? Please let me know.

photo collage of Clairefontaine sustainability marks on three different notebooks

Additional reading:

I’ve received many products from Exaclair USA and Tom Bihn over the years, some may be shown in this blog post. I have purchased even more on my own, the FTC wants you to know. There are no affiliate links in this post.

when a5 isn’t enough

Back in December I signed up to try a sample of some paper that’s definitely out of my normal size range from Week 9 of the Rhodia Paper Project: Free Samples of BIG Rhodia Paper!

I like A5 for most of my everyday writing and recording needs, but sometimes I need more space. This paper is huge – the No. 38 Rhodia pad is 16½” x 12½” (A3+420X 318). It’s the 80 g acid-free, pH neutral paper I know and love because it likes fountain pens as much as I do. It is available not only in a 5mm grid, but also as a 5mm dot, with the subtle violet line (or dot) that makes me happy. I immediately fell in love and purchased a dot grid No. 38 pad of my own (available at European Paper and other fine shops).


I use it mostly for long-range planning. While I like my weekly planner for daily planning, I prefer to see more at once when I’m in project planning mode. It’s particularly valuable for me to be able to see an entire quarter at a glance and still have room to write.

So with this wonderful paper, I made my own. It’s visible. I don’t have to use super tiny fine tipped pens to write in it. While the paper is delightful for all my pens, I plan to find a frame (probably similar this one) to put the current quarter in so I can write with whiteboard markers and make changes without worrying a kitten will run off with my post-it note.