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Reusing Paper: Why is it Important?

“Damn”, you think. You are standing next to the printer and you are looking at the multiple A4 sheets with your presentation hand-out on it. Or, well, it should have been on there. One of the slides is three quarters of that A4 page… and the back of that A4 is blank. With a sigh you throw the stack of A4 papers in the paper bin and you walk back to your laptop to try to print it out again…


“So?”, you may think. That ‘misprint’ you just produced, can be reused!

“Well, it is going to be reused because that paper is going to be recycled, right?”

You are right. The paper industry is one of the industries that is ahead in recycling, in comparison with many other industries, such as plastic or energy.


However, paper can be recycled 5 to 7 times before it becomes useless. And in the final recycle round, this paper is the sheet of paper on your doctor’s treatment table - low quality and downcycled. It is true that recycled paper normally does not get re-bleached to make it white, which saves the use of chlorine. Chlorine can end up in the environment as a by-product of the bleaching process.


Recycling is better than using trees, but still, to produce one A4 sheet of recycled paper, it takes liters of water, it takes up energy for remanufacturing and the transportation to eventually make it to you. That is why we at Arbor – Precycled Notebooks, believe in “reusing is reducing”. Our aim is to offer people like you a sustainable notebook, a notebook that is one step before recycling. Our notebook consists of multiple types of ‘saved’ paper, which makes it very colourful and unique.


From front to back, it is one of a kind. The front covers are test prints from the Jan van Eyck Art Academy in Maastricht. The paper you write on is like the ‘misprint’ you made, as mentioned above. We collect one-sided printed (and blank!) paper from the Maastricht University, where students deposit their misprints, and the facility manager puts the blank A4 sheets in when the printer is jammed again.



The back covers are frozen pizza cartons and cereal boxes collected at the Student Hotel Maastricht or excess six-pack cartons of the local beer brewery Gulpener.


All this paper gets transported to the social organization Athos. Athos is detrimental in realizing our other aim: increasing social inclusion for people with a distance to the labour market. Every Wednesday we work with 4 Athos team members to assemble all the different sourced paper ‘waste’ into our sustainable notebooks. For us, sustainable impact should be both environmental and social. Values can be captured in more forms than a dollar sign, by acknowledging that we eventually give nature its true value, and not just naming it an externality.



We recognize that in order to produce these notebooks, we need partnerships to achieve our goals. With our notebooks we do want to not only reduce our ecological footprint, but also create awareness, for we need an impact community to work together for sustainability. Our notebooks represent a collaboration of companies, organisations and consumers like you, who recognize that “reusing is reducing” needs an innovative supply chain and way of working together to make that happen. We are thankful for the partners we currently have in our Arbor supply chain and we hope that this will grow in the future.


To come back to the question why reusing paper is so important, we believe that reusing paper not only has direct impact on our environment, but also creates great, though indirect impact on our ways of looking at the current ‘way of doing’ and stimulates the growing mindset of “reusing is reducing”.



However, before we can even start reusing and repurposing your paper waste into our beautiful notebooks, there is one crucial step you can take, that is to reduce paper waste. Consider the impact before you print something, only print when you must, and try to print double-sided and print in black and white. Our ultimate goal is not to make as many notebooks as possible, but to raise awareness and urge people to minimize their paper waste, one page at a time.


Natalia Westermann

Arbor Sustainable Notebooks

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