Using What we Have

On keeping notebook collections modest

Kevin Jones
2 min readOct 22, 2021


I bought new pocket notebooks, a rare experience these days. Birthday money doesn’t burn holes in my pocket like it used to, but I still like to spend on analogue products when I can.

One of the key principles for living sustainably is to buy less. With this in mind I try not to buy more than I need and I only buy things that I think I’ll use. In terms of notebooks, this means my pile of “to use” notebooks never gets much more than ten to fifteen books high.

I didn’t used to be this way. I had subscriptions to quarterly releases from Field Notes and others. I chased the new shiny thing. I coveted new rulings and layouts. But as I’ve become more interested in green living I don’t want these things as strongly.

There’s a concept amongst stationery collectors (and other hobbies) known as SABLE, which stands for Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy, i.e. you’ve bought more than you could ever hope to use in your own lifetime. I’ve never been close to SABLE, but I wonder if, for sustainability reasons, it is time to consider another acronym. Just Enough Stationery for Tomorrow, perhaps?

Other things to consider if you want to make your notebook use more sustainable:

Use the good china

We use this phrase in our house to remind us that things are made to be used. You could save certain items for some unspecified future use, or you could enjoy them now.

Imagine the scenario: you die, and whoever gets the job of handling your estate doesn’t even realise how awesome your notebooks are and pitches them

Complete things

And use as much of them as you can. I don’t necessarily mean you have to fill each page with blocks of densely packed, tiny writing, but it stands to reason that if you get more use out of each item you will buy less things

Only buy what you need

This is where I lose the collectors amongst us, but I refer back to my earlier point: these things are made to be used.

Is it right to imprison these books in boxes or cupboards, knowing that the energy, time and materials used to create them was wasted? I like to think of those great notebooks, those ones I could have bought more of, as better fulfilling their purpose out in the world, hopefully in the hands of someone who values them

Buy local

Buy more notebooks manufactured in your own country. This reduces the energy consumption associated with shipping, but also supports your local economy

Buy sustainable

Look for FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified paper or recycled paper



Kevin Jones

Maritime Sustainability Specialist. Editor of Rethink Convenience and author of the Live Circular newsletter