Here's my solution. This notebook is made from and bound with recycled materials. The cardboard covers and scratch paper are being given a new life, and staying out of the trash while I am using less paper.
Making one of these notebooks takes about 45 minutes. I usually make one while on the phone each night, as you can still concentrate on other things while making one. The composition books that this will be replacing cost only a dollar or two, so this is more about recycling rather than saving vast amounts of money. As an added plus, you can get some pretty cool designs of your covers, depending on the boxes you use, or you can have the plain side out and decorate it yourself.
Step 1: Material You Will Need
-used paper. My school has a lot of computer and graphics labs, and each of them has a recycling bin for miss prints. This gives me a pretty ample amount of the stuff.
-a cardboard box. I prefer to use the flat kind, rather than the corrugated kind. Cereal boxes, the boxes for 24 packs of soda, most microwavable dinners, etc. will do. My room mates eat a lot of that kind of stuff, so I have a good supply in our personal recycling bins.
-thread. I use carpet thread because it is pretty robust stuff. You can use regular thread, but I would double it up to be safe.
-a ruler. We will be measuring the places for our holes to be punched.
-a thumb tack. This will be used as a punch to make our treading holes.
-an x-acto knife. This will trim down to size our box.
-a writing tool. You will need to mark a few things.
-a board to bear down on. We don't want to mess up any tables punching hols or cutting, do we?
-duct tape. Just for good measure.
-a bulldog clip to hold our paper down.
Step 2: Hole Punching
Along this line, mark off every half an inch. Once this is done, get our your tack and push it in on these tick marks. Be sure it goes all the way through.
Heads up: by attempting to punch holes in a lot of paper at once, you will make it fairly difficult. I reccomend you do one of two things. Either get a hammer and drive the tack through the paper (but not into the board! Be careful!) or do multiple groups of smaller amount of paper.
Step 3: The Cover
Then go ahead an punch holes on the designated spots just like we did with the paper.
Step 4: Sew It All Together
Before you sew everything together, decide if you want the box's plain side or decorated side facing out. Once you have your decision made, make sure the OPPOSITE side is facing toward the paper when you state to sew. I prefer mine to be the plain brown, so I can label them, but a more interesting person may just choose to have a Bisquick sponsored notebook.
Feed the thread through one of the holes in the paper stack and directly into the corresponding hole in your notebook cover.
Once you read the top, pull your thread taught by giving each stitch along the binding a gentle tug to pull out the slack. Be sure to look at the last picture for clarity!
Step 5: Tie It Off and Trim
After the know has been tied, take your blade of choice and trim the extra over off. I recommend doing the back side first, using the paper's edge as a reference. Then flip the whole thing over so the front is face down and the notebook it closed, and trim it again using the edge of the paper as a guide.
Step 6: Voilà!
Also in the pictures is a few shots of one of my legal pad style with cover.