By Wendy Russ
My son and I were in Target, looking at notebooks. His mother, a notebook addict, had to look despite not needing one at the moment. Or any moment probably in the next 5-10 years due to her inability to resist impulse purchasing notebooks several times prior to this particular shopping trip.
I saw the label on the Miquelrius Stone Paper notebook that claimed the manufacture of the product used no trees, no water and no bleach. I asked my tween, “Well then what IS in it?” He promptly rolled his eyes and walked away.
What is in it: stone. Just like it says. More specifically a waste material collected from marble quarries which is then ground into a fine white calcium carbonate powder. In a manufacturing process this is bonded with high-density polyethylene to yield a paper-like product that looks and acts a lot like paper, but then again, kind of doesn’t.
The first thing you will notice is that a notebook of stone paper is significantly heavier than one of the same size made of plant-based paper. Is that a deal breaker? Not unless you are carrying half a dozen of them with you. And, yes, I tested this in the store. The weight does add up significantly.
The second thing you’ll notice is the texture. There is no grain to the paper, so it has a smooth, almost velvety texture similar to old-school thermal fax paper. The bonus is writing on the paper is smooth and quick, effortless. The downside is that if you have “texture issues” you may not like it. My son, for example, rejected it instantly claiming it was “creepy.”
Manufacturers of stone paper (there are many) tout the paper as eco-friendly because it uses waste material, doesn’t kill trees and doesn’t require water or chemicals to produce it. Environmentalists seem less blinded by this wow-factor claiming that it isn’t biodegradable and must be recycled under commercial conditions. Which is fine if you recycle. (But according to the National Resources Defense Council, only about one in three of you people living in the city do.)
I purchased a small notebook for the purposes of testing. It was 80 pages and 6.5×8” and was priced at $6.99 at Target, approximately twice the price of the same type of notebook filled with tree paper.
As promised, the writing test was exquisite. Ballpoint pen glides across the paper and retains a rich color of ink that is diminished slightly when writing on plant-based paper. Felt tip pen is more grabby but has a beautiful watercolor appearance at the termination of letter where the ink pools slightly. Neither of these smeared for me, though I have read complaints of smearing in other reviews. Pencil was the best surprise, though. I never use pencils for writing because I don’t like the scratch of it on paper. This is absent on stone paper and graphite glides smoothly and looks rich on the paper making a cheap #2 pencil look like something you picked up in a local art store.
Next, the water test. Stone paper claims to be water resistant and lives up to its promise. I wet down my test sheets and water ran off and eventually dried with no warping. It also did not stain after the Cherry Dr. Pepper test. (Unlike my mouth.)
Unexpectedly, during the water test everything I had written in felt tip and gel pen vanished. Which is a bad thing if you want your words to live forever, but could be great if you need an impromptu white board experience. Or need to quickly destroy the evidence of the love notes you’re passing to another student during class. (In some tests, given time, markers achieved durability, but the Crayola washable marker was definitely not a viable choice, ever.)
The paper folds easily, so origami and paper airplanes are still a go.
Each sheet is tear resistant. The paper begins stretching and then will suddenly rip, but tearing is unpredictable as there is no grain. It tears the same vertically and horizontally and leaves an oddly smooth edge. Tug-of-war between siblings will last far longer with these pages.
The paper burns quickly like plant-based papers, but the unburned pieces left have a strange texture, like melted plastic. The ash is weird and it doesn’t seem to smoke or fume as it burns.
Final recommendation: Definitely YES for journaling or any writing you want to last for a long time or for people who do field or lab work where their journals are at risk from moisture or wear. Definitely NO for every day school work or papers you plan on throwing out. For disposable work the paper is not cost-effective and it has to be recycled with #2 plastics like milk jugs, shampoo bottles and yogurt tubs.
When buying, try to find a brand that is manufactured in the country where you live. Miquelrius was the only brand I could find locally and is manufactured in Spain. Support your local economy as often as you can and buy domestic when it is available, if your wallet will allow.