9 Sustainable Backpacks For An Eco-Friendly School Year
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Whether you’re heading back to school, running errands around town, or hiking a trail, there are lots of reasons a backpack can come in handy. And as functional as they may be, we’d love for them to be fashionable, too. But what’s most important to us is to find one that is ethically and sustainably made—a bag that is kind to its makers and the environment.
These bags are responsibly made and/or give back to communities in need, and as they come in different volumes and are equipped with all sorts of compartments, can take you from a workday to the weekend with ease.
If you’re looking for a different kind of everyday bag, check out our guide to handbags, totes, and weekenders.
Best Overall — Terra Thread
Best for Adults — Lo & Sons
Best for Kids — STATE
1. Terra Thread
Best For | Everyday & mini backpacks
Ethics | Certified B Corp, fair trade, GOTS certified organic materials, gives back, carbon-neutral, eco-friendly packaging
Price Range | $55–$70
Made in fair trade factories using organic cotton, Terra Thread‘s affordable canvas backpacks are perfect for just about anything. With pockets and compartments for water bottles, laptops, and more, they’ll feel right at home when traveling or simply running errands. They’re also free of toxic dyes, lead, and any carbon footprint! Plus, in partnership with Feeding America, each purchase of a backpack provides meals to kids and families in need.
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2. Girlfriend Collective
Best For | Solid color backpacks
Ethics | SA8000 certified ethical production, recycled & sustainable materials, circular & take-back initiatives, inclusive sizing, recyclable packaging, eco-friendly dyes
Price Range | $82
Looking for an eco-friendly backpack that won’t clash with your carefully curated OOTD? TGT fave Girlfriend Collective makes a daily backpack that goes with any look. Coming in a range of neutral and muted gorgeous colors (fawn, moss, and rosewood are particularly swoon-worthy!),these monochrome packs are chic and functional. Gone are the days when a random neon zipper or brightly colored tag ruin your ‘fit’s palette. (Bonus: this eco-friendly backpack is made of recycled water bottles and is fully recyclable when you’re done!)
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3. Lo & Sons
Best For | Minimalist, functional bags
Ethics | Recycled & organic materials, gives back, eco-friendly packaging & practices
Price Range | $238–$658
Parents often know best, and that’s the case with Lo & Sons, too. After looking for a functional, affordable, and durable backpack and coming up short, mother Helen Lo took things into her own hands. Today, it’s a family-owned business putting sustainability and eco-friendly practices at the center of its work. Made for frequent travelers, these bags have plenty of pockets, adjustable sleeves, and sturdy-yet-sleek fabrics that can withstand all kinds of globetrotting.
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4. United By Blue
Best For | Functional, convertible backpacks
Ethics | Certified B Corp, Waterway Cleanup Program, recycled & eco-friendly materials, ethically made in Vietnam
Price Range | $88–$148
If your ideal study break involves getting outside, put a United By Blue backpack at the top of your list. Crafted from sustainable materials like recycled polyester, these bags are durable and functional for school, travel, and outdoor adventures. Plus, they’re largely water-repellent, equipped with laptop sleeves and pockets, and can even convert to totes. For every product purchased, one pound of trash is removed from oceans and waterways.
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Best For | Hiking, trekking, & everyday bags
Ethics | Sustainable materials & production, ethically made, climate-compensation
Price Range | $55–$415
Born in 1960 in Sweden, Fjällräven backpacks were created by outdoorsman Åke Nordin out of pure necessity: He needed a bag that would hold his gear comfortably on his back. 50 years later, Fjällräven has grown into a sustainable outdoors brand loved by conscious adventurers worldwide. While some bags use materials like organic cotton & recycled polyester, Fjällräven also climate-compensates other products by supporting renewable energy projects.
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Best For | Personalized backpacks
Ethics | Certified B Corp, gives back, ethically made in China, nontoxic
Price Range | $60–$175
If you (or your kid) are into monogrammed bags, look no further than STATE, which allows you to personalize your backpack with both your initials or embroidered symbols. More than just style though, STATE has got substance: For every bag purchased, the company supports American families in need, including donating backpacks full of supplies to local students and partnering with schools and charities. With a variety of vegan, water-resistant, and recycled material options, you’ve got plenty to choose from.
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Best For | Technical & casual backpacks
Ethics | Certified B Corp, recycled & sustainable materials, fair trade, gives back
Price Range | $79–$299
Patagonia is known for creating products that are versatile, and this is also the case for its extensive backpack collection. Carefully constructed for more conscious living, the Patagonia packs are made to meet all your needs. Find what you need by sorting the bags by volume, materials used (like recycled polyester and nylon), or features (like hydration compatibility and laptop compartments). Whether you use it for school, as a carry-on, or as an overnight bag, Patagonia backpacks are built for transition.
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8. Pixie Mood
Best For | Recycled backpacks that are work-friendly
Ethics | Sustainable & eco-friendly materials, ethically made, fair wages, vegan
Price Range | $70–$130
Love the sleekness of a leather moment but not the animal product? Pixie Mood’s recycled vegan leather backpacks are the chic, versatile alternative you’ve been looking for. These backpacks are lined with material made from 100% recycled plastic bottles, and most are tech-friendly and even convert into shoulder bags. Perfect for fashionable professionals looking for an efficient yet gorgeous backpack that will complement your work look.
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9. Beekeeper Parade
Best For | One-of-a-kind backpacks
Ethics | Upcycled materials, gives back
Price Range | $21–$89
Using discarded textiles and remnants from local factories (that would otherwise have ended up in a landfill), Beekeeper Parade creates beautifully upcycled bags, purses, pouches, and more. This means that some pieces are one-offs or limited-edition, and that their linings may even vary, making them all the more special. Not only does the Royal Backpack come with compartments for laptops and water bottles so that you can stay organized while on-the-go, but every purchase also helps children in rural Cambodia access quality education.
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Featured image is from Girlfriend Collective.