Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Rock Paper

Part of the appeal of "green" products is that primarily they are familiar items made from recycled components. Notebooks made with recycled paper and plastic pens made out of plastic bottles are two standard green products.

Moving along the continuum you get old favorites with a green twist, such as woodless pencils: essentially a graphite core wrapped in recycled newspaper.

At the National Stationery Show I was introduced to a product that moves one step further, making a totally familiar product out of an absolutely impossible element in such a way that it helps the environment: paper made from rocks, or rock paper.

The rock paper I played with was at the Urban Smart booth, where they were showcasing their line of dry erase stationery (itself a really great idea) and dry erase picture frames (which has some funny/dangerous elements to it as well).


Rock paper, which is manufactured in Taiwan and sold under the TerraSkin brand, is three parts recycled calcium carbonate—the same mineral in marble and limestone—and one part polyethylene binder. Production of this requires no water or bleach and uses only half the energy needed to make traditional paper. The resulting material is durable, and recyclable, breaking down into a talcum-like powder if exposed to sunlight and humidity long enough.

[Edit: Katie Kelley of Urban Smart got in touch with me and asked that I correct one thing in the above paragraph: their rock paper is made in Canada, not Taiwan. Everything else remains the same, and I'm very happy to add this information.]


What I found amazing about this paper is that while it feels very thin, there was no bleedthrough with either a gel ink pen or a fountain pen. The paper absorbed the ink, but other than a bit of a shadow on the back side there was not problem with double-sided writing. The paper seems coated yet absorbent, and it has one of the silkiest textures I've ever felt.

Now the question is: where can I buy it? I haven't seen any, so I'll be in touch with Urban Smart to see who's ordering their notebooks. The only downside I saw was the lack of a hardcover notebook option, but that may be in the future.

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