Disrupting the Composition Book Industry (?!)

The black marble composition notebook was first introduced in the 1930’s and hasn’t changed much since. Why? It’s been a great notebook and hasn’t been challenged.

Here’s the question though…. Why doesn’t EVERYONE use them? At coffee shops, you see people huddled over computers with a notebook at their side. Are these Composition books? No. They are typically much higher end – beautifully bound and so lovely.

As a professional, I’ve been using Lechtturm1917 for years. Some people rely on swag from corporate events. Moleskine is popular. Baron Fig has developed a beautiful product. I could wax poetic for hours (like any good supply geek), but at roughly $20 each, these really aren’t suitable for students. And, if we are entirely honest, they’re not great for the planet either. What we do know is that when we put pen to the paper of a quality notebook, it feels great. It’s the first step in making a thought into a reality.

When my kids started middle school we knew the old Composition books weren’t cutting it. We didn’t feel good about disposable notebooks that were bad for the environment and seemed to say “your words don’t matter.”

We scoured the market and found some products that came close to what we were looking for – but something was always missing. They were ugly or expensive or had the wrong layout. What to do?

We got to work and created the notebook we all wanted to use. Wide Ruled Rebel notebooks are for this generation of students, doodlers, and dreamers. Our notebooks are built for students and the environment, at a price that is closer to mass-market Mead than to Moleskine.

When we set out to build our notebooks, two things were critical:

Our notebooks had to be built for students.

We collected new and used notebooks. Tested samples. Talked to students, parents and teachers. We learned: EVERY student is an individual.

Our notebooks had to be good for the environment.

Could it be good for students and NOT good for the environment? I mean, these kids will be around long after us adults are gone.

Armed with this knowledge, we obsessed over every single detail.

Environmental Stewardship

Wide Ruled Rebel notebooks are made with recycled materials and are completely recyclable—just toss in the recycle bin when you are done. No separating the cover from the spine or removing spiral wires. Kraft covers are easy to decorate and better than colored paper for recycling. This means we use less virgin materials and more of our notebooks are recoverable in the end.


Made with 300 GMS recycled kraft, our covers are as durable as they can be without unnecessary coating. We’ve rounded the corners to keep them from getting banged up. And, we’ve mostly left the covers blank for each student to make their own (please share, we love to see them!)

We’ve included the Wide Ruled Rebel logo as a reminder to add a class subject or state the intended purpose – or as a starting place for a fabulous doodle. Flip the notebook over – you’ll see it’s the same on both sides – great for our left-handed students!


Stitching the pages together provides benefit beyond recyclability. By binding the pages and cover with a Singer stitch, our notebooks lie flat without bulky wires to get in the way of your keyboard. Pages can be removed without the binding losing integrity and other pages falling out (like with stapled notebooks we’ve tested). While this does create a jagged edge, the paper airplane you are making won’t mind.

We added tape to the binding for reinforcement and easy labeling. Add a pop of color! Try that on a traditional black bound Composition notebook!


The paper is our favorite part – its critical to how a notebook feels and performs. We wanted paper that does not warp and provides a smooth writing surface. We choose recycled ivory-colored, 70 GSM paper. The ivory color (with grey lines) is easy on the eyes, reducing the glare seen with pure white paper. The 70 GSM paper weight gives heft to avoid ghosting and bleed through.


Our notebooks come in at a lean 40 sheets (that’s 80 pages of writing surface.). Why? Check the stash of notebooks you have lying around your house at the end of the school year. How many are full? We’ve found that most are half empty. Half. Where does that go? Landfill. Or recycling (if we are lucky). We’ve found less that 40 sheets isn’t enough (our testers told us!) But more sheets mean carrying extra bulk and increasing waste. It’s like Goldilocks finding the bed that fits her just right.

Need more space? Start a new notebook. We LOVE the sense of accomplishment when you turn the last page of a well loved notebook – and the promise when you open a brand new one.


We started first with ruled notebooks – we love a good ruled notebook. But, the quality notebooks (like the Moleskine Cahier) we found are narrow ruled. Our thoughts are just too big! We knew we needed wide ruled and college ruled. We also knew we needed margin lines on both sides of the page. Margins had to be dark enough to see, but faint enough to ignore.

And who says ruled notebooks are all you need? We get it – sometimes you need something a little different. Math, anyone?! Bullet journaling? We offer our notebooks in five different layouts: wide ruled (our namesake!), college ruled, grid, dot grid or blank. Whether you are looking for a bullet journal (BuJo), artist sketch book, or a class notebook for school, we have a layout to meet your need.


Can we compete with the bargain basement pricing of Staples, Office Depot or Walmart? No. But at $3.60 per notebook (in a five notebook bundle), our notebooks are significantly less expensive than other high end notebooks. We created a high-quality Composition notebook a fraction of the cost of the entrenched standard-bearer with an added emphasis on students and environmental stewardship.

So, are we changing the world? No – these are still just notebooks.
But, Wide Ruled Rebel notebook’s empty pages are waiting for each individual Rebeler to write their own future. Our Rebelers – they will change the world. Let’s equip them.

Photo by Julia Joppien on Unsplash


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