As TUAW's official case-tester-in-chief, I've seen cases and sleeves for iPhones, iPads and Macs made out of just about every material under the sun. There are those beautiful wood and leather cases, and some crafted from aluminum and other materials, but the vast majority are made of some sort of plastic. That has often made me wonder where all that plastic ends up after a few years when Apple users move on to newer devices. Now Griffin Technology is making waves by bringing Papernomad's paper composite eco-friendly sleeves to North America for the first time.
What makes these sleeves so different? The outer shell is made of a water and tear resistant paper composite that looks somewhat like those brown paper bags you used to get at the grocery store before you started using those reusable bags. The inside lining is a wool felt that keeps your favorite Apple product free from scratches and static. Between those two is a batting material that pads your device from bumps. Holding the device in place is a hemp twill pull-tab with a magnetic closure.
So, thinking of paper getting wet probably makes you think of soggy paper that's ripping apart and dumping your groceries onto the ground -- not exactly what you'd want for an all-purpose device sleeve, right? The patented paper composite material is water resistant. Papernomad warns you not to put your sleeve into a washing machine, as you'll end up with a pile of compostable goo. However, a little rain or beer spilled on the outside is just going to give your sleeve a bit of character.
Speaking of character, Papernomad sleeves have one more defining characteristic. Like just about any other paper, you can write or paint on them with a variety of media, meaning that you can create a totally unique sleeve. I have some plans for the review item I received; it's getting a marker-drawn TUAW logo, a David Lanham sticker or two, and anything else I decide to customize it with.
Griffin's the distributor for the Papernomad products in North America; our European readers need to visit Papernomad.com to buy their sleeves.
There are three Papernomad sleeves you can buy; Pars for iPhone 4/4s and iPhone 5 (US$39.99), Zattere for iPad ($49.99), and Tamakwa for 13" MacBook Air ($59.99). While they're not yet listed on the Griffin Technology website, there are also sleeves for iPad mini, 11" MacBook Air, and 13" and 15" MacBook Pro that should be available soon.
I've got to admit that I was smitten by the simplicity and feel of the iPad mini Zattere and can see how Papernomad's sleeves could become a favorite. The best thing is, once I've moved on to a future Apple device with a different form factor, I know that this case is going to just biodegrade over time and not end up lasting for a thousand years in a landfill.