Sustainable backpacks for every budgets!
So you are an environmentalist and need to carry stuff around? Maybe your backpack broke. Maybe it just isn’t cutting it for you anymore. You need a new one.
But you recognize that the fashion industry is one of the most wasteful in the world. And that many companies who promise to be sustainable and environmentally-friendly are just greenwashing.
Oh no, you think, if only someone had an easy to read list of all of the best and most sustainable companies to buy backpacks from!
Is very important for me to find a sustainable backpack brand that is ethically made, a product that creates less waste, and treats the workers and the environment right.
Fret not, your sustainable-prayers have been answered!
Look no farther than this list with all the BEST sustainable backpack options. I really have it all-affordable bags, expensive bags, sleek bags, bulky bags, bags made from bottles, and even bags made from bananas.
Peruse and then choose!
- Price: $$
- Material: REPREVE recycled polyester, BLOOM foam padding
- Bonus: B-Corp certified, plants ten trees for each bag purchased, transparent production process
Tentree’s backpacks are simple in their design, and simply sustainable- they not only use REPREVE recycled polyester to make them, they also use BLOOM foam padding.
BLOOM foam padding is a HUGE deal; it is the first plant-based foam.
And it gets better.
Not only is BLOOM plant-based, it is made from surplus algae that is harming the ecosystems they grow in, threatening them with deadly algae blooms.
Tentree not only clears murky water to create its foam, it also strives for clarity in regard to its production process.
Tentree is COMPLETELY transparent about what is used in the creation of its products. Each product that Tentree creates has an eco-log, which records how much water was used to create the product, how much waste was created by the product, and how much CO2 was emitted in the creation of the product.
Even more impressive, Tentree is B-Corp certified! To be a B-Corp is a huge honor, only the businesses with the highest standards in regard to how they treat the environment, society, and their employees can become certified.
The best part of Tentree’s products though is that for each one you purchase, they will plant ten trees!
The name makes a little more sense now, doesn’t it?
Their goal is to plant 1 billion trees by 2030.
These eco friendly backpacks range in price from $65 to $118, depending on what model you are interested in. The Brooklyn and Motion backpacks are better suited for school, while the Mobius is more geared towards hiking.
- Price: $$
- Material: Upcycled industrial trash
- Bonus: Unique look, strong return policy
Rewilder’s bags are truly unique!
Rewilder is a small, American business, who handcrafts all of their bags in Los Angeles.
All of the bags are completely, 100% made out of upcycled industrial trash.
What kind of trash you wonder?
Well, one example is beer filters. Yes, you read that right. Rewilder came up with the genius idea to take beer filters from American beer manufacturing plants and turn them into a lightweight cloth for their backpacks. The idea is all the more genius when you consider that beer manufacturing plants go through 100,000 tons of filters every year.
That is a TON of waste.
Other materials that Rewilder repurposes include: car cover fabric used by the container shipping industry, airbag material from the end of rolls that factories normally throw out, and backdrops for entertainment events.
In other words, odds and ends, that create far too much unnecessary waste.
All of Rewilder’s bags are less than $120.
That isn’t because they skimp on quality.
To prove it, Rewilder has a 30 day return policy with no questions asked. If a bag you have had for a while is damaged or experienced wear and tear, Rewilder will take it back from you and repair it, or upcycle it into a new bag. If you want the new bag, they will give it to you at a 35% discount to thank you for recycling the bag.
3. Stubble & Co
- Price: $$$
- Material: Recycled plastic
- Bonus: Water-resistant, multi-use
Stubble & Co is an internationally recognized brand, whose Adventure Bag is a phenomenon, receiving rave reviews from all who own it.
The bag is made mostly from recycled plastic and is HIGHLY functional. You can take it traveling, on adventures into nature, to school, or to work. It is weatherproof, sturdy, has a ton of room, and lots of compartments for you to organize your belongings in.
Not only is it functional and sustainable, it is also built to last!
Not all of the bag is made of recycled plastic. This is because in some parts of the bag, using the recycled plastic fabric would have compromised its durability. Stubble & Co wants you to have this bag for life, so they valued the bag’s long-term ability to perform over using recycled elements for those parts.
Back this project on Kickstarter!
As of now, the bag is $110.
- Price: $
- Material: Range of materials
- Bonus: Second-hand bags
Out with the new, and in with the old!
A great sustainable backpack choice is a second-hand backpack. The online second-hand store thredUp has some incredible options. They have a huge amount of backpacks to choose from, that could appeal to anyone, of any age, gender, or style.
The prices are incredible, and range from $13.99 to as high as $50. These incredible prices aren’t because the bags are falling apart or poor quality. On the contrary all of the bags are all merely gently-used and come from great brands.
Thredup’s mission is to make people think of second hand, first.
The fashion industry is incredibly wasteful, and that is because they keep on pumping out new products, and we keep buying them.
It is unbelievable!
Every year, consumers, on average throw away 70 pounds of clothes and shoes, per a person!
Even if you are not interested in a thredUp backpack for yourself, consider donating to second-hand stores the next time you want to throw out clothes, shoes, or accessories!
- Price: $$
- Material: Recycled plastic bottles
- Bonus: Trendy, lots of color options
You are definitely going to recognize this brand.
Fjällräven’s backpacks are everywhere! Most people don’t even know that these quirky-yet-fashionable bags are sustainable. Their most popular bag, the Re-Kånken backpack is made entirely out of recycled plastic bottles.
This is because Fjällräven doesn’t just want you to appreciate nature, but also support it.
Not only is the fabric sustainable, so is the dye!
Fjällräven uses SpinDye technology on the Re-Kånken so it takes less water, energy, and chemicals to create.
And not only are the bags sustainable, the company is also humane. They based their code of conduct on the Fair Labor Association’s Workplace Code of Conduct. This code emphasizes the importance of sustainability, human rights, and environmental protection.
Fjällräven is a progressive company, and they hope to continue to make progress in regard to sustainability, hoping to go carbon neutral by 2025.
These eco friendly backpacks prices range from $55 to $225.
- Price: $$$
- Material: Recycled nylon, recycled water bottles
- Bonus: Water-repellant, Fair Trade certified, they donate 10% of profits to environmental groups
Patagonia has always prioritized the planet and people.
They are a company that was a sustainability leader since before it was trendy to be one.
They are known for having incredible quality products.
This goes as far as them wanting people to buy LESS from them.
That’s right, a business who wants you to buy LESS.
They want their products to last your entire life. The Ironclad Guarantee promises to repair or even replace any product that you’re not satisfied with
They aren’t perfect, no company is.
But, they are transparent about their faults, and areas of production that are not sustainable, because they believe in accountability.
Their bags are made out of recycled materials- from recycled water bottles to recycled nylon. They are dyed with a solution that saves half a gallon of water per bag and uses 96% less CO2 than normal dyes. The packs can withstand any weather. They are incredibly versatile in what they can be used for. They are meant to meet all your needs, to carry whatever you have to, but not to be sturdy to the point of clunky.
The bags can be expensive, starting at $79, however they will be your bag for life. Also, 10% of pre-tax profits go to environmental groups. So when you buy, you will also be donating to great causes.
- Price: $$
- Material: Canva
- Bonus: When you buy a bag another is given to an at-risk youth
Can you be stylish AND sustainable?
STATE says yes, with their sleek line of vegan-friendly, earth-friendly bags.
The price of these bags ranges from $55–$140. However, you are not just buying one bag, but rather two. For every bag that you buy, STATE fills another with school supplies and hand delivers it to students in need in Brooklyn.
So not only are you giving back to the planet, but also children in need.
They have incredibly useful features like water bottle holder, numerous compartments of different sizes, and soft padded easily adjustable straps. Because of this, and the bags elegant and simple design, they are perfect for going to school.
The only downside of these bags is that only some of them are sustainable.
Some are made with 100% Recycled Polyester while others are not. Make sure to check before you buy.
8. Lo & Sons
- Price: $$$
- Material: Recycled plastic bottles, organic cotton
- Bonus: Sleek, multi-functional
Lo & Sons prides itself on its “thoughtfully designed” backpacks.
The thoughtfulness comes into play in two components of their sustainable backpacks.
The first is the backpack’s sleek, elegant design. They look sophisticated, but are fully functional, with lots of different sized pockets and compartments within them. They are perfect for work, school, or travel and many of them even have two functions in one, with one changing from a backpack into a suitcase, and another changing from a backpack into a tote.
The second component is how sustainable the backpacks are. Lo & Sons is striving to use more sustainable materials in their bags, with one collection that features fabric made from recycled plastic bottles, and another that features canvas that was made from cotton that was grown without pesticides or chemicals.
Lo & Sons is striving to start packing products in biodegradable poly bags. These bags will break down in landfills instead of filling them up. They are also starting to design products that will be made from plant based fibers.
Lo & Sons isn’t just striving to not do harm.
They also want to work reverse environmental damage.
They are part of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition and they have partnered with The Renewal Workshop.
While these bags won’t hurt the environment, they will hurt your wallet, with prices ranging from $118–$428.
- Price: $$$
- Material: Bionic Canvas, Bionic Yarn, Organic Cotton
- Bonus: Cutting-edge environmentally-friendly fabric
Millican is an INCREDIBLY innovative company.
They pioneered the use of Bionic Yarn and Bionic Canvas.
Which are great names, for a simply sustainable product.
Millican recovers plastic from shorelines and waterways. They then turn that plastic into Bionic Yarn. The yarn ends up being made from the plastic, natural fibers and recycled polyester. They recently engineered Bionic Canvas, which is made of 65% recycled content. They also use 100% organic cotton to make their bags. When weaving the fabric they try to create as little waste as possible.
The fabric is not only environmentally-friendly, it also includes the features of being abrasion-resistant and weatherproof!
They make a range of backpacks for a range of purposes-school, work, travel, adventures, you name it!
These backpacks are minimalist, and perhaps not the most stylish option on this list, but definitely one of the more sustainable ones.
They bags aren’t just planet-friendly, they are also people-friendly. They are ethically made in by Millican’s garment specialist in Vietnam and the UK.
Prices for these vegan backpacks start at about $147.
10. United By Blue
- Price: $$
- Material: Organic cotton, recycled polyester, vegetable tanned leather
- Bonus: B-Corp certified, remove a pound of trash from the ocean
Not only are you paying for a backpack when you buy from United By Blue, you are also paying for a pound of trash to be removed from the ocean! They have removed 1,638,501 pounds of trash so far!
They aren’t just saving fish, but also animals.
United By Blue uses vegetable tanned leather in their bags, which is a vegan substitute for leather. They also use organic cotton and recycled polyester.
This backpack is perfect for adventures, so after you are busy saving nature by buying it, go experience it.
The price of the backpacks ranges from $78–$168. Some of the functions the backpacks have include water bottle pockets, laptop sleeves, different sized compartments, and water repellent material.
These bags are a commitment for life-they have a lifetime guarantee.
United by Blue is a certified B Corp. This means they are the best of the best, that they are not just a business, but also kind to people and the planet. This honor is only bestowed upon the most ethical socially and environmentally conscious businesses.
- Price: $$$
- Material: Bannatex, cotton canvas, vegan leather
- Bonus: Bag made from bananas
This bag will absolutely be a-PEEL-ing to you.
Because it is made from banana fibers!
All of QWSTION’s bags are made from banana fibers from the Abacá plant.
This material is called Bannatex. It is durable, waterproof, and biodegradable, and is the first fabric in the world to be made out of a banana plant. The bags also use high-density cotton canvas and leather. However, the leather is made using an eco-friendly vegetable tanning method.
It is BANANA’s how sustainable these backpacks are! (Last banana joke I promise)
Like a banana, these bags are sleek! They have a minimalist aesthetic that is perfect for work, school, or travel and come in a variety of styles, sizes, and colors. They put a water repellant coating on the bags, so don’t be afraid to travel with them.
The company is based in Zurich, Switzerland. They use ethical manufacturing, and are monitored by the Business and Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI), which makes sure European manufacturing standards are used in companies outside Europe, since many of the bags are made in China.
The only downside is that these bags are expensive, starting at $260.
12. GOT Bag
- Price: $$
- Material: Recycled ocean plastic
- Bonus: Made from 3.5 kg of ocean plastic
The GOT bags are 100% made out of recycled plastic from the ocean.
They not only come from the water, they are also resistant to it, with cutting-edge water proof technology, a BIO-PU coating.
This bag is versatile, and multi-purpose, suiting school, work, travel, or adventures. It’s versatility is rooted in its excellent features, like a removeable laptop bags, a flexible roll top, and tons of space for your belongings.
These features were concocted during the two years it took the GOT owners to design the bag. The owners wanted them to be as high-quality and sustainable as possible.
GOT uses its connections with SEAQUAL and a network of 1,500 fishermen who remove plastic from the water they fish in to collect plastic to make the bags. Each backpack is made from 3.5 kg of plastic that was removed from the ocean.
The bags start at $100, and are meant to last, with a two-year warranty.
Material: Recycled Sails
Bonus: B-Corp certified, one-of-a-kind bags
These bags are on sale! I mean, MADE from sails.
How cool is that?
MAFIA uses recycled kitesurfing, windsurfing, and sailboat sails to make their bags. 80% of the bags are made from the recycled sails, and the rest of the material is sourced from suppliers in the USA, near the company’s headquarters in San Francisco.
Browse their bags on their website, it will show what they are currently offering! Each bag lists out the materials that were used in its creation, so you will know where the rope and fabric actually came from that made the bag. They have a few pack options, all of which are stylish, with pops of color. Unlike some of the other bags on this list, you can definitely tell they were upcycled, but that works in their favor.
Also, MAFIA is also a certified B-Corp, so you know that they are putting as much good into the world as they claim to be!
Their price ranges from $149–$195 but these bags have a lifetime guarantee. If you have an old sail and donate it to them, they will even make you a bag, free of charge.
Wait until everyone catches WIND of these!
- Price: $$
- Material: Recycled ocean plastic
- Bonus: Sleek urban look, removes five pounds of plastic from the ocean with each purchase
These bags are perfect for walking in the city, or walking in the woods, with a demure style, and incredible features!
For example, their bags have a solar-powered charger for your phone, smaller compartments for valuables, and anti-theft lock.
These are also eco friendly backpacks.
They all use recycled ocean plastic!
Even better, for every backpack purchased, Solgaard removes five pounds of plastic from the ocean through their partnership with The Plastic Bank.
Solgaard is trying to improve as a company, and is currently in the process of removing all single-used plastics from their production and shipping process.
The bags start at a very affordable $95.
- Price: $$$
- Material: REPREVE, recycled polyester
- Bonus: This bag is made of, can you guess? I will give you a hint, it has been featured on this list approximately a thousand times. DING DING DING. RECYCLED PLASTIC!
We have a winner.
Kathmandu uses REPREVE to make its bags, an eco-friendly fabric that is made from recycled plastic. They also use recycled polyester, and in some spots, normal polyester, in their bags.
Kathmandu is a widely trusted, sustainable brand. Their range of backpacks range in purpose, some are better suited for school and work, while others are better for adventures and hiking.
They have great features, like lots of pockets and zippers, detachable shoulder straps, eyelet locking docks, and removable packing cells.
The bags start at $178, but are so functional and durable, that price is a steal!
What was your favorite sustainable backpack from the list?