Best Eco Friendly Backpacks

13 Best Eco-Friendly Sustainable Backpacks

Backpacks have become go-to essentials for going about our days, heading to the gym, or getting outdoors. Versatile enough to carry everything from a change of clothes to laptops, they also come in a vast array of sizes and shapes. Backpacks are our trusty option to carry more than our persons can hold but not enough to warrant a travel bag. Yet many backpacks are made with little heed for the environment. However, eco-friendly backpacks help us protect the planet while enjoying the fashion and functional value of backpacks.

How are sustainable backpacks better for the planet?

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Considering the environmental effects of fast fashion and unethical labor practices, it becomes essential to have better alternatives. Below are a few reasons you should buy eco-friendly backpacks.

Recycled materials

Unsustainable raw material extraction and product use is a feature of non-eco-friendly textile production. Some of these materials are non-renewable. Those that are renewable are facing the possibility of scarcity due to wasteful management.

They make some eco-friendly backpacks out of the waste reprocessed into new materials. These recycled backpacks save a lot of resources from landfills or incineration.

Environmentally friendly manufacturing

The fashion industry is responsible for 20% of the world’s industrial wastewater. It also accounts for about 10% of human-caused carbon emissions. Over 60% of materials used in the fashion industry originate from plastic, and every year about 500,000 tons of microplastic enters the ocean.

Producing affordable on-trend items fast that may not last as is prevalent in the fashion industry at the moment is unsustainable. Sustainable fashion uses processes and materials that do not harm the environment. 

Ethical sourcing and labour

Unsustainable fashion production has a social cost, and the workers usually pay for it. Sometimes, the people who make your fashion end up forced to work long hours in unsafe conditions and paid meager wages barely enough to live on. Their health and lives are put at stake for other people to enjoy cheap fashion.

For a backpack to be considered eco-friendly, brands must employ workers who enjoy fair treatment according to labor laws.

13 Best Sustainable Eco-Friendly Backpack Brands 

Here we provide details on each brand on our eco-friendly backpacks list. With the information provided, you will find the sustainable backpack that best reflects your idea of what eco-friendliness should be.

The information below tells you the following about the brands:

  • Who they design for
  • Product range
  • Ethical values
  • Store location and shipping

Quick links to our picks of the best sustainable and eco-friendly backpacks:

1. United by Blue

United by blue (R)evolution backpack
Pictured: United By Blue (R)evolution Trek Pack. Credit: United By Blue

For: men and women
Product range: backpacks, clothing
Ethical practices and value: B Corporation, sustainable materials, transparency
Store location and shipping: based in the united states and ships internationally

United by Blue is a notable eco-friendly fashion brand. United by Blue design their Revolution line of sustainable backpacks for outdoor use. The backpacks are roomy and sleek without being too fancy.

The Revolution line comprises 100% recycled backpacks; they make the bags from recycled plastic bottles, recycled nylon, and recycled polyester fabric. The entire hardware on the bags is recyclable aluminum. 

They are committed to removing single slip bags, tags, bubble wrap, and other plastic from their production and packaging. All their production partners are either certified by Fair Trade, GOTS, or OCS.

United by Blue is dedicated to ridding the environment of plastic. The brand pays to have one pound of plastic trash removed from the ocean for every product sold. They also organize local beach clean-ups.

Shop United by Blue

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2. Bellroy 

Pictured: Bellroy Apex Backpack. Credit: Bellroy

For: men and women
Product range: backpacks, wallets, and tech accessories
Ethical practices and value: B Corporation, gold-rated leather, sustainable materials 
Store location and shipping: based in Australia and offers worldwide shipping

Functionality and durability are the two concepts that guide Bellroy’s designs. They also consider environmental sustainability. So customers do not only get a durable backpack, it is earth-friendly too.

Bellroy’s makes eco-friendly backpacks from natural and recycled materials. Wallets and zip pulls use vegetable tanned leather from tanneries rated ‘gold’ by the Leather Working Group. The rest of their products, including sustainable backpacks, are made with recycled nylon, Tencel, and recycled polyester.

Cradle-to-Cradle principles influence the brand’s ethical and sustainable operation. They use eco-friendly materials that do not contain harmful chemicals for manufacturing and packaging. They also run an energy-efficient production process.

Bellroy donates a portion of its revenue to animal welfare NGOs and partners with GiveWell and the Effective Altruism community to help people in need.

Shop Bellroy on Amazon

3. Paravel 

Paraval eco friendly backpack
Pictured: Paraval Fold-Up Backpack. Credit: Paravel

For: men and women
Product range: backpacks and accessories
Ethical practices and value: recycled plastic, carbon-neutral, upcycled materials, natural materials
Store location and shipping: based in the united states and ships worldwide

Paravel is an award-winning sustainable travel brand. Its most popular eco-friendly backpack is lightweight and foldable. Its foldability makes it quite portable and saves storage space. The brand aims to be the first entirely sustainable travel brand by the end of 2021.

Paravel makes its backpacks from recycled plastic bottles, vegan and better leather. Oeko-Tex and the Global Recycle Standard approve their Negative Nylon. They also make use of recycled polycarbonate. Their vegan leather is thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU).

Other materials Paravel uses include jute, circular cotton, better leather, and Eco craft canvas. The brand offsets carbon emissions from every aspect of its operations. So far, Paravel has offset about 8,150 tonnes of CO2 and upcycled 2.5 million plastic water bottles. They have also planted about 65,000 trees.

Paravel holds its manufacturing partners to the Code of Social Responsibility and ensures that they practice fair labor.

The brand supports the NAACP Environment and Climate Justice Programs. It also supports NGOs working to help people in impoverished regions. The brand has donated about $70,00 to aid medical workers in fighting the spread of COVID-19.

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4. Cotopaxi 

Photo Credit: Cotopaxi

For: men and women
Product range: backpacks, clothing 
Ethical practices and value: certified B corp, recycled materials, transparency, Sustainable Apparel Coalition, carbon offsets
Store location and shipping: based in the Philippines and ships internationally

Cotopaxi designs beautifully colored backpacks that add a funky style to your look. A durable backpack is what the brand promises consumers.

Cotopaxi's line of eco-friendly backpacks includes the Del Dia and Allpa bags from their RE-Purpose collection. They make these bags from deadstock fabrics sourced from larger companies and made from repurposed remnant nylon, thereby reducing waste in the environment.

The brand actively discourages a throwaway attitude. They offer to repair or replace defective products without delay. In the spirit of accountability, the brand publishes a yearly report of its impact on its website.

Cotopaxi is a member of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, and it offsets shipping emissions to retailers. Its carbon offsets go towards the Amazon reforestation. The brand also funnels 1% of its profits to the Cotopaxi Foundation, which awards grants to NGOs in impoverished countries.

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5. Solgaard  

Solgaard 100% ocean plastic backpack eco friendly
Pictured: Shore-tex Lifepack Lite made with 100% ocean bound plastic. Credit: Solgaard.

For: men and women
Product range: backpacks and gear 
Ethical practices and value: recycled ocean plastic, vegan leather 
Store location and shipping: based in the USA and ships internationally

Solgaard is a pretty innovative brand. The brand’s eco-fashion and tech efforts won it a finalist spot in Fast Company’s World Changing Ideas event. Their techy backpacks are ideal for individuals who are always on the go. The backpacks are highly compartmentalized and come with a built-in solar panel, anti-theft lock, power bank, and an optional boombox.

The brand recycles ocean-bound plastic and makes some of its backpacks from it. Each bag made with a recycled plastic inner lining helps remove 5lbs of bottle plastic from the ocean. Solgaard’s makes it Hustle backpack with vegan leather.

With a 10-year warranty on every backpack, Solgaard’s tech-enhanced backpacks are incredibly durable.

Even while preventing a significant amount of ocean plastic pollution through production, they still partner with The Plastic Bank. For every product Solgaard sells, they remove 5 pounds of plastic from the ocean through the Philippines-based Plastic Bank.

Shop Solgaard

6. Patagonia 

Patagonia recycled plastic backpack
Pictured: Refugio Backpack made from at least 50% recycled materials. Credit: Patagonia

For: men and women
Product range: backpacks, clothing, and outdoor gear 
Ethical practices and value: transparency, recycled materials, second hand, PVC free, phthalate-free, fair trade certified, 1% for the planet member
Store location and shipping: based in the united states and ships internationally

This brand is a popular sustainable fashion brand that specializes in outdoor clothing and accessories. It is the brand for the adventurous but eco-conscious individual.

They make Patagonia backpacks with no animal products. About 72% of Patagonia’s backpacks are made from recycled fabrics. 100% of the cotton they use is organic. They use a zero-wastewater discharging system to manufacture their Black Hole backpack line. They make the line from recycled polyester, and Bluesign approves it. They also have technical backpacks for the outdoors with interior compartments and lines including the essential laptop sleeve for the professional on the go. 

Taking one more step towards eco-friendliness, the brand takes back gently used backpacks and resells them. The second-hand trade cuts back about 73% water, waste, and carbon footprint per item.

Patagonia donates 1% of its profits to charities. It is also actively promoting environmental responsibility through a volunteer program. 

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7. Terra Thread 

Terra Thread eco friendly backpacks
Photo Credit: Terra Thread

For: men, women, and children
Product range: backpacks, laptop sleeves 
Ethical practices and value: fair trade certified, organic cotton, Fairtrade, GOTS certified, low impact dyes, carbon-neutral, 
Store location and shipping: based in the USA and ships internationally

Terra Thread makes minimalist organic cotton canvas backpacks. The brand’s Zem Mini backpack is great for traveling light. It is also an ideal carrier bag for camera equipment and the likes. The Earth backpack is more suited for school and office use.

The brand makes all its backpacks with cotton that is GOTS certified and ethically sourced. Their backpacks have lead-free zippers and buckles. The dye they use is low impact and certified by GOTS. Terra Thread also uses plastic-free packaging and recycled Kraft paper for its tags.

So far, the brand has saved over 2 million days of drinking water and 41,855 of driving emissions. By purchasing carbon offsets for each stage of production and sale, the brand maintains a carbon-neutral status.

Terra Thread has a factory in India. The brand pays fair wages and supports community development projects. It also contributes 20 meals to the Feeding America organization for every backpack it sells.

Shop Terra Thread

8. Pakt 

Pakt backpack made from recycled plastic
Photoe Credit: Pakt

For: men and women
Product range: backpacks 
Ethical practices and value: recycled materials, traceability, slow fashion, eco-friendly packaging
Store location and shipping: based in the USA and ships internationally

The Getaway bag, which later became known as the One travel duffel, is Pakt’s genius minimalist product. The 30-liter capacity duffel is a simple and spacious carry-on for long-distance trips. They make this durable travel duffel from 900D recycled PET. 

You will only find six products on Pakt’s website because they believe in slow fashion. Moreso, all their products come with a lifetime warranty. Pakt believes a small line of essentials is better than an extensive collection of similar products.

The brand avoids single-use plastics in their packaging and shipping; they use cardboard and paper instead.

Pakt operates an open-source system in an attempt to help manufacturers and other brands run their businesses more sustainably.

Shop Pakt

9. Lo & Sons

Lo & Sons Backpack
Photo Credit: Lo & Sons

For: women and men
Product range: backpacks
Ethical practices and value: recycled plastic, second-hand trade, clean energy
Store location and shipping: based in the USA and does not ship internationally

Lo & Sons uses polyester from recycled plastic bottles as their primary raw material. So far, they have given 1.7 million plastic bottles a new life. They make their 100% recycled poly backpacks to be super durable, fit for outdoor adventures. They use a mix of vegetable-tanned leather and polyester for their Edgemont backpack. The Propest briefcase is entirely made out of eco-friendly Vachetta leather.

The brand tries to be resource-efficient as much as possible. They use solar energy to power their manufacturing and convert wastewater into drinkable water. Lo & Sons does not encourage landfilling their product. They will gladly take gently used bags, repair and resell them through The Renewal Workshop.

Currently, the brand is a member of the Future Changemaker Community and hopes to become a B Corporation soon. They give donations to EcoHealth Alliance.

Shop Lo & Sons

10. Fjallraven 

Fjallraven eco friendly backpack
Photo Credit: Fjallraven

For: men, women, and kids
Product range: backpacks, clothing, and gear
Ethical practices and value: sustainable materials, Forest Stewardship Council, certified, non-toxic, fair labor, carbon offsets
Store location and shipping: based in Sweden and ships internationally

Fjallraven backpacks are suitable for all kinds of outdoor activities, including long-distance hikes. Their bags carry fifty-five different colors with lots of earth tones that give the brand its understated style. Fjallraven backpacks make for a stylish yet sustainable overnight bag, and you might also find them suitable for back-to-school shopping.

They use natural materials like organic hemp, Eco wool, recycled wool, and Tencel. They also use recycled polyester, organic cotton, polyamide, and metal buttons. The Samlaren initiative is their latest design program which will take textile waste and turn it into limited-edition bags.

The brand has an animal welfare policy that guides its ethical sourcing of animal fiber. The wood frame for their trekking backpacks is FSC certified. Fjallraven’s backpacks do not use fluorocarbons and other toxic chemicals during manufacture. They follow a company chemical guideline compiled with the assistance of the Swedish Chemicals Group.

This brand is a member of the Fair Labour Association and the Sustainable Apparel Coalition. They have an uncompromisable code of conduct that they enforce throughout their supply chain as an ethical business.

Fjallraven’s carbon offsets support UN verified renewable energy projects. They also fund research on environmental conditions of the arctic fox and give grants to nonprofits.

Shop Fjallraven

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11. Elvis & Kresse

Elvis & Kresse Backpack
Photo Credit: Elvis & Kresse

For: men and women
Product range: backpacks and travel bags
Ethical practices and value: 100% recycled, certified B Corporation, fair labor.
Store location and shipping: based in the UK and ships internationally

Elvis & Kresse makes some of the best sustainable backpacks for students and new generation business people with fashion and functionality as guiding concepts. They work with classy colors and slim designs.

The brand’s selection of sustainable materials includes exterior parts of decommissioned fire-hoses and recycled military parachute silk. They also use salvaged leather from the Burberry Foundation. They use sustainable packaging made from tea and coffee sacks and recycled shoe boxes.

They power their manufacturing with renewable energy. All their products come with a lifetime guarantee of repair in the event of damage. As a Social Enterprise Business and B Corporation, the brand provides a safe working environment and pays fair wages.

Elvis & Kresse is a generous brand. They donate 50% of their profits to NGOs like the World Wildlife Foundation, British Forces Foundation, and Barefoot College.

Shop Elvis & Kresse

12. Tentree 

Tentree Ethical Backpacks
Photo Credit: Tentree

For: men, women, and children
Product range: backpack, clothing, and accessories, 
Ethical practices and value: certified B Corporation, carbon offset, sustainably sourced materials, traceability
Store location and shipping: based in Canada and ships internationally

Tentree makes some of the best eco-friendly backpacks for adventure-loving people. Their backpack line started with the Mobius backpack and has extended to include a variety of designs.

For its body backpacks, Tentree uses 100% Repreve polyester made from recycled plastic water bottles. They make their protective backpack padding from BLOOM recycled algae foam. Other durable materials like zippers, clips, straps, and buckles are recycled or recyclable. They also use certified fair trade organic cotton in some products.

Currently ranking in the top 1% of B Corporations for sustainable manufacturing, Tentree has a transparent and traceable supply chain. They require all their manufacturing partners to have at least one third-party certification from WRAP, Fair Trade, SA8000, BSCI, or the Fair Wear Foundation.

The brand has a carbon offset program that allows customers to purchase offsets when they shop. For every product it sells, Tentree will plant ten trees. So far, the brand has planted 47 million trees across countries with damaged biodiversity.

Shop Tentree

13. Everlane 

Everlane sustainable backpacks
Photo Credit: Everlane

For: men and women
Product range: backpacks, clothing, and accessories
Ethical practices and value: sustainable materials, Bluesign approved, non-toxic, transparency
Store location and shipping: based in USA and ships worldwide

Sustainable fashion brand Everlane makes backpacks and travel bags for professionals and business people. The minimalist backpacks can fit your laptop and gym clothes conveniently. 

Their ReNew backpack is 100% recycled polyester. The brand uses a fluorine-free water-resistant finish and low-impact dyes.

Everlane was the first company to practice radical transparency in its manufacturing practices. They ensure that their manufacturing partners comply with ethical labor practices.

Every year, Everlane holds a Black Friday Fund sale and channels the profits into improving the welfare of their employees around Thanksgiving.

Shop Everlane

Choose Eco-Friendly Backpacks for All Uses and Styles

Your backpack or carry-on does more than help you move all your essentials around; they have an environmental impact. Just like you choose ethical clothing, it is important to choose eco-friendly backpacks too.

In this article, you will find valuable suggestions to aid you in picking the best backpack for sustainable living.

Jen’s a passionate environmentalist and sustainability expert. With a science degree from Babcock University Jen loves applying her research skills to craft editorial that connects with our global changemaker and readership audiences centered around topics including zero waste, sustainability, climate change, and biodiversity.

Elsewhere Jen’s interests include the role that future technology and data have in helping us solve some of the planet’s biggest challenges. She’s also busy researching and exploring technology applications for product development for a changing world.

Photo by Carlos on Unsplash
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