Five Star College Ruled Spiral Notebooks

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Karthyayani Sajeev
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Five Star notebooks are the product of choice for multiple students, providing a variety of stationery ideal for notetaking and schoolwork each year. As a frequent customer of Mead school supplies, including Five Star notebooks, I was interested in looking into the sustainability behind this product, however results were noticeably lacking for information on labor practices and product assembly. Five Star has quite a long way to go before reaching where it needs to be, in terms of sustainability. The brand would especially benefit from more clarity as to where and how their products are being made. At the moment, Five Star paints its green profile by providing specific recycling instructions on its website, and thereby “reinforcing eco-friendly behavior,” however further steps could be taken to ensure recycling is done by its customers.

What it's made of:


cardboard. The company offers two types of notebook covers to choose from in its spiral-bound collection: plastic and polypropylene. Polypropylene, a sustainable star for multiple brands such as Starbucks and McDonalds, boasts lightweight properties and low density, allowing it to be more environmentally responsible than typical plastics, which use more polycarbonate. Clear polypropylene is also fully recyclable and produces significantly less CO2 than PET, PS, and PVC. However the problem lies in the fact that just 3% of the material produced gets recycled yearly, meaning 97% finds itself in landfills, where it then takes 20-30 years to decompose. Worth noting, polypropylene-cover notebooks have a $10+ price difference compared with plastic-cover notebooks, inducing customers to choose the less sustainable option.

How it's made:


Five Star prides itself in its Sustainable Forestry Initiative Certification, which covers all notetaking products assembled in the US and Canada. The brand does indeed hold a certification with Sustainable Forestry Initiative, under its parent corporation, ACCO Brands, covering US and Canada production in the cities of Alexandria, Mississauga, and Sidney. However, the certification only covers commercial printing services, sold with the label SFI Certified Sourcing. Further information, regarding notebook assembly, could not be found.

Who makes it:


There is little information regarding who makes this product, beyond the locations of ACCO Brands printing factories in Alexandria, Mississauga, and Sidney, which are not specific to Five Star. However under SFI Certified Sourcing, the corporation is audited and subject to annual surveillance for continued compliance with certification requirements.