Friday, November 8, 2013

Free For All Friday No. 9: Point of Origin?

We all want to buy local, but is that even possible with planners?

I try to buy planners and notebooks that are made in the UK and USA whenever possible. But it's rare to find products that are made exclusively from materials in these countries.

One example: Monday I was extremely thrilled to go to a Philofaxy meetup at the Letts factory in Dalkeith, Scotland. I'll have a detailed post about it next week, it was fantastic!  I was very interested to see their on-site printing facility. I love that many (about 60% if I remember that detail correctly) of their diary products are printed and bound right here in Scotland. But their paper comes from elsewhere in Europe, and they ship diary products all over the world. So they aren't completely local.

Another example: Quo Vadis planners are printed in the US. But their paper comes from France and the covers are made in Canada. They use very strict environmental policies, which is excellent, but there is still international shipping involved.

Another example: my own planner is printed and bound in Singapore using paper from Japan, and shipped all over the world.

As wonderful as it would be to buy a planner/ diary that was made entirely from (relatively)  local materials, I wonder if it exists anywhere? Does anyone know of a planner or notebook brand where all the materials are from one country?

One thing that I do appreciate no matter where the raw materials come from is that these companies are keeping jobs in Scotland/ UK/ USA when it would probably be cheaper to outsource them somewhere else. Many of the employees at Letts have worked there for decades, and I really appreciate that they are still able to keep their jobs.

Does it matter to you where your planner/ diary and notebooks are made?

And as always on Fridays, feel free to discuss, ask questions about, or generally chat about anything planner-related!


  1. Most purchasers say they care. They will state a preference for locally sourced and ethically produced. The sad truth is that many of the same people won't pay the true (extra) cost that is involved! They will opt for a cheaper price - regardless of ethics. Most planners/ organisers don't even state where their materials come from. Even The Filofax Original which brashly states "Made in Britain" doesn't tell you that many of the components - including the ring mechanisms - are mass produced in China and merely assembled in Britain!

    Companies like Letts Filofax aren't being altruistic. It's local politics, the potential massive cost of making middle-aged employees with many years service redundant and the necessary payback from the huge cost of machinery investment that was made just a few years ago that keeps jobs in Dalkeith.

    1. Hi Laurie! I live in the states and do my best to by everything I can local (first) and non-Chinese (second). After the first waves of lead-infused paints on little kids' toys at the time when I had a toddler turned me permanently away from their products. I do end up paying more - sometimes double - for non-Chinese - but I would rather have fewer things made elsewhere or locally. It's too bad that so many manufacturers choose to go for the bigger profit andsupport unfair trade, un-liveable wages for those on the production line, etc

      Anyway, this summer I bought a new Filofax "original" personal because they said it was made in the UK. I don't know about the materials, but that was my exclusive reason for trying this one out - and it's my first personal, which I needed to try and capture my increasinly complicated life.

      I love my Original! I love the vibrant green, I like the numbered but not labeled sections and their colors - I am happy that I was able to support workers in the UK, even if many materials were imported.

  2. I've been happily using the Quo Vadis Visual for the last 5 years (a record for me!), and I know that the fact it was made in the USA swayed me to try it when I bought it at Barnes & Noble the first time. I noticed right away the little brochure that mentions that it is made in Hamburg NY, as I live in Buffalo.

    My Visual Soho cover was made in Poland, which also caught my eye as my husband's family is third-generation Polish-American.

    B&N doesn't carry the Visual anymore so I've had to buy the last 4 refills online. I seem to be the kiss of death for whomever I buy my refill from - they go out of business right after I order from them. I'm afraid to buy from, as it might be the end of Quo Vadis!

    I would love a tour of the Quo Vadis facility - I wish they had a shop so I could check out their other offerings in person, as I think I need to switch to a larger planner, or a daily planner. I picked up a Journal 21 at B&N yesterday, but I'm not sure I'm ready to leave the weekly view behind, and the month views are a bit squished as it's narrower than the Visual.

  3. I have been giving this some thought, and while I agree about Buying British, or Buying American or Buying Canadian, or German or Swedish, and I try to do it myself, I think it is equally important not to over consume.

    I use one planner at a time. I don't need seventeen of them, or even seven.
    My current "heap" is two A5 Filofaxes (both of which are en route to being sold), a vintage Personal (which is going to the USA on Monday to someone who will love and appreciate it) and a Midori, my current planner of choice.

    I have a few notebooks, one I bought in Istanbul because it was beautiful, and one from Japan for the same reason. And really, that's it.

    Not buying is quite a radical way of doing things though. No more searching for the perfect planner until I have used what I have already. No point in looking if I'm not going to buy.

    My way around this is to buy Second Hand. Pre loved. Unloved. Surplus. Vintage.
    I'm on the hunt for a Slimline - maybe a Holborn - at the moment but I really, really don't want a new one!

  4. Don't know whether anyone else would be interested, but I've just bought an FC Veronica ( - because I've always wondered, and they're currently $40.

    They're not available on the UK FC website and the shipping was prohibitively expensive (like, over $40 so I'd be paying over 50% of the cost for shipping). But as it turns out my cousin who lives in America will shortly be visiting her parents in Hong Kong over Thanksgiving break, and her brother (my other cousin) who lives here in London UK will also be visiting. So my new binder will be coming to me the long way round LOL :-)