Zap Notebooks

A pile of three Zap Notebooks, one blue and green in an A5 size, one smaller in black.  The black one reveals the cover, 'Zap Book 100% recycled in a bold modern font
Clairefontaine Zap Books

British pseudo-intellectuals like me are used to idolising anything and everything French. Even the most mediocre products are lauded if they might give us a bit of Gallic chic. But occasionally, you come across a brand that deserves it. For me, Clairefontaine fits this bill. They produce high quality notebooks at reasonable prices, and I’ve filled many of their exercise books over the years. So imagine my delight when, on my last trip to Europe, I discovered one of their newer products: the Zap Notebook. These are 100% recycled paper notebooks which come in a range of colours and sizes. The first draft of this review was written on a bright blue 1/2 Zap Book.

Bright green Zap Book

Recycled paper has a bit of a bad reputation; it’s often a bit rough or gritty, a sort of off colour, and generally not as nice to write on. Clairefontaine usually has such wonderfully smooth paper, it’s hard to believe this could be matched with recycled materials. but the Zap Book won’t disappoint. They don’t have quite the same glossy sheen as the standard Clairefontaine notebooks, but the pen still glides over them easily. The paper is absorbent without being thirsty, and is thick enough that your text doesn’t just soak straight through to the other side (although I’m no longer a habitual fountain pen user, so can’t vouch for how well it would cope with one). Mine gets thrown in my backpack or handbag and lugged about wherever I go, so a certain sturdiness is required. However its dense construction seems to have ensured it’s up to the task. It is perfect bound, but the spine seems to be holding up well, without any missing pages or damage from me forcing it open when writing in cafes and train carriages.

Three Zap Books on their side showing their spines which read 'Zap Book 100% Recycled'

The Zap Book comes in the range of vibrant colours you’d expect from modern stationery. There aren’t patterned ones, but there is still plenty of choice. I picked up blue, green, and black, the latter in a tiny size perfect for taking round galleries when I’m reviewing exhibitions.

This is a more eco-friendly alternative that sees off its non-recycled competition with ease, so next time you’re after some new notebooks, I’d definitely recommend seeking these out.


Stationery is so personal, and we can end up spending a lot of time with it, so it pays to be picky! Which are your favourite brands? Are there any eco-friendly products I should know about? Share your suggestions in the comments below!

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