Carry Your Values: The 16 Best Ethical Backpacks
Updated: Jun 9
Spending time outdoors has many proven and unproven scientific benefits. Outdoor can mean a lot of things, I mean a lot: from just being outside in your (green) backyard or a local park to several days of hiking in the wilderness without a plan to return to your home (just kidding).
For example, walking in nature has memory-promoting and de-stressing effects, reducing inflammation and eliminating fatigue. Also, it may help fight depression and anxiety. Moreover, it lowers your blood pressure and may protect your vision. Finally, spending time outside can improve your focus so that you may perform better concerning creative tasks, and, in the end, it may even prevent cancer and boost your immune system.
Having all this in mind, it should not be hard to "force" yourself to go into nature—in the beginning, it may seem like a task, but in no time, you will get hooked on that great feeling you get when surrounded by trees, green color, and calming surroundings.
Nevertheless, when you spend time outside, you have to equip yourself properly, because the last thing you want is to find out far away in the forest that you do not have any water with you or a fresh pair of socks if your feet (or your kid's) get wet.
The first thing you will need except for proper footwear when going out is an excellent backpack. I have compiled a list of 16 ethical backpacks to choose from to have a great time while also choosing something sustainable.
What makes a Backpack Ethical
When it comes to ethical backpacks, the choice of materials is critical. Sustainable materials such as recycled polyester, organic cotton, and natural fibers like hemp and cork are commonly used to make ethical backpacks. These materials have a lower environmental impact, as they require fewer resources and have a reduced carbon footprint during production. Additionally, ethical backpacks are often made with eco-friendly dyes and treatments, ensuring that harmful chemicals are not released into the environment. Furthermore, some ethical backpacks are designed to be biodegradable or compostable, ensuring that they won't contribute to the ever-growing landfill problem. By using these sustainable materials, ethical backpacks not only help the environment but also ensure that the workers who produce them are not exposed to harmful chemicals during the manufacturing process. The use of sustainable materials is an essential factor in making backpacks ethical, as it ensures that they are produced with a minimal impact on the planet and its inhabitants.
Social responsibility is a crucial aspect of ethical backpacks. These backpacks are not only made from environmentally friendly materials but are also produced under fair labor conditions, ensuring that the people involved in the production process are treated with respect and paid a fair wage. By choosing an ethical backpack, you are supporting companies that prioritize the well-being of their workers and their communities. Additionally, ethical backpacks often source their materials locally, further supporting the communities in which they are produced. Social responsibility is a fundamental value of ethical backpacks, making them an important choice for those who want to make a positive impact on our world.
Benefits of an ethical backpack
Choosing an ethical backpack is more than just a fashion statement; it's a responsible choice that has a positive impact on both people and the planet. Ethical backpacks are typically made from sustainable and environmentally friendly materials that reduce the carbon footprint and promote a circular economy. Moreover, ethical backpacks are produced under fair labor conditions, ensuring that workers are paid fairly and work in safe environments. By choosing an ethical backpack, you're not only supporting companies that prioritize sustainability and social responsibility, but you're also promoting a culture of conscious consumption. Plus, ethical backpacks are durable and practical, meaning you can use them for years without worrying about constantly replacing them. All in all, an ethical backpack is an investment in a better future for both you and the world around you.
16 Best Ethical Backpacks
Material: Upcycled industrial fabrics
Are you tired of the same old backpack designs that everyone seems to have? Do you want a backpack that not only stands out but is also environmentally responsible? Look no further than the Joyride Roll Top Backpack! Handmade from upcycled industrial fabrics and reflective street signs, each backpack is unique and offers exceptional technical features. Thanks to its durable materials and functional design, the Joyride Roll Top Backpack is built to last, ensuring that you can enjoy its unique style for years to come.
United by Blue
Material: Recycled Polyester
Details: Each purchase removes 1 pound of trash from our waterways
The Convertible Carryall Backpack by United by Blue is the ultimate sustainable and versatile accessory you need in your life. Made from recycled polyester and recycled nylon, this backpack is not only eco-friendly but also 100% vegan and water-resistant. Its padded adjustable shoulder straps can easily clip off for "tote mode", allowing you to switch between a backpack and a tote bag in seconds. With a hidden side zipper pocket, dual carry handles, expandable open side pockets, and a padded interior laptop sleeve that fits a 15" laptop, this backpack has it all. And the best part? With every purchase, United by Blue commits to removing 1 pound of trash from our waterways, making this backpack a purchase you can feel good about.
Details: handmade in Portugal
The Signature Cork Backpack from Tiradia isn't just a beautiful accessory, it's a smart and sustainable investment. Made from cork, this backpack is not only stylish but highly functional, as cork is a highly durable and lightweight material that's also waterproof and hypoallergenic. Plus, cork is a renewable resource that's biodegradable and recyclable, making it an excellent eco-friendly option. The backpack is also handmade in Portugal, ensuring that it's produced under fair labor conditions, and is cruelty-free and vegan-friendly. You can rest assured that you're making an ethical choice when you choose the Signature Cork Backpack from Tiradia. It's not just a bag, it's a statement of conscious consumption that will be a timeless addition to your wardrobe for decades to come.
Material: Organic cotton
Details: Sleeve for a 15-inch laptop + water bottle pockets
Looking for a reliable and sustainable backpack that's perfect for school, work, or travel? Look no further than the Organic Cotton Everyday Backpack from Terra Thread! Made from 100% GOTS Certified heavy-weight organic cotton, this backpack is not only durable but also eco-friendly. With two side pockets for water bottles, a large front pocket with a zipper, a hanging inside pocket, and a handy laptop compartment that fits 13-15 inch laptops, textbooks, and documents, this backpack has plenty of room for all your essentials and more. But that's not all – Terra Thread is a carbon-neutral and Certified B Corp company that believes in giving back. For each purchase of this backpack, Terra Thread donates 20 meals to kids and families in need through Feeding America. So not only will you be investing in a practical and stylish accessory, but you'll also be supporting a company committed to making a positive impact.
Material: Recycled Ocean Plastic
Details: Fits 13-inch laptop
Introducing the world's first DAYPACK made of ocean plastic - a stunning example of sustainability meeting timeless design! With water-resistant fabric and a padded back for maximum comfort, this everyday backpack is lightweight, adaptable, and always ready for your next adventure. Plus, its smart and structured inner pocket system includes a 13" laptop compartment, ensuring your daily essentials are safe and secure. But the real kicker? Each GOT BAG Daypack recycles an incredible 5.5 lbs of plastic recovered from the ocean, all while using a sustainable circular economy to tackle the plastic problem at its root. The fabric is 100% made from ocean plastic, while the straps and UTX clips are crafted from recycled PET, and a BIO-PU coating provides the perfect finishing touch to make it water-resistant. With this backpack, you can make a difference while staying stylish and functional - what's not to love?
Made by Ming
Material: Cactus Fiber and vegetable leather
Details: Handmade in Ecuador
If you're looking for a bag that is unique but also socially responsible, then the handmade Minga bag is worth considering. Crafted by skilled artisans, every Minga bag is ethically sourced and made with sustainable materials, ensuring that your purchase has a positive impact on the environment. But that's not all - the Minga bag also provides fair work opportunities for women in Ecuador, allowing them to earn a mutually agreed-upon price for their labor. With endless options, this bag can be worn as a two-strap backpack or a one-strap cross-body bag, making it a versatile accessory that's perfect for any occasion. Not only will you look good carrying it, but you'll feel good knowing that you're supporting ethical and sustainable practices.
Material: Recycled Pet Bottles
Are you tired of constantly accumulating plastic bags that harm the environment? Look no further than the ultimate reusable bag! This bag is truly the jack-of-all-trades, serving as a shopping bag, tote bag, and backpack all in one. With its versatile design, you can take it with you everywhere and carry almost anything, making it the perfect companion for any adventure. Not only is it practical, but it's also environmentally conscious. Each bag is made from approximately 8 recycled pet bottles, so you can feel good knowing that you're helping to reduce waste. When not in use, simply fold it up into a compact, easy-to-store zippered pouch that conveniently clips onto your keys or bag with a connected carabiner. With four stunning designs to choose from, including Deep Ocean, Midnight, Living Coral, and Savannah, there's a style for everyone. Don't miss out on this innovative product that ships directly from Frank Green and is available exclusively to US customers. Get your ultimate reusable bag today and make a positive impact on the environment while simplifying your daily life.
Material: Recycled Plastic Water Bottles
The Kanken backpack is an iconic accessory, and the eco-friendly version is no exception. The Re-Kanken is a practical and sustainable choice, made entirely from recycled polyester, which is equivalent to 11 plastic water bottles. Not only is the Re-Kanken a planet-friendly option, but its dye process is environmentally conscious, using less water, energy, and chemicals. The backpack's design is both functional and stylish, featuring a spacious main zippered compartment, a front zippered pocket, and two open side pockets. Its two-way zipper comes with a rain flap, protecting your belongings from the elements. The adjustable shoulder straps make it comfortable to carry on long hauls, and the dual top snap handles offer quick carrying options. With the Re-Kanken, you can be sure you're making a responsible choice without sacrificing functionality or fashion.
Material: Recycled Materials
If you're in the market for a backpack that's cute, practical, and socially responsible, look no further. This backpack has the perfect size, not too big and not too small, making it the ideal companion for everyday use. The backpack features four inner pockets, a divider, and a key hook, providing ample storage space for all your essentials. But what sets it apart is its soft, padded straps that won't cut into your shoulders, even when carrying heavy items. Plus, it's water-resistant, making it perfect for all weather conditions. And the best part? This backpack is made from recycled materials, including black canvas, straps, strings, and lining, all made from recycled plastic bottles. So you can stay organized and stylish while doing your part for the planet.
Details: Zipper Pocket
Looking for a versatile and stylish handbag that can keep up with your daily needs? Our printed cork handbag is a perfect choice! With its roomy interior, this bag makes it easy to stay organized and carry everything you need throughout the day. Plus, the structured design and luxurious golden trims add a touch of sophistication and elegance that can elevate any outfit. You can carry it by the double handles for a classic look or sling it over your shoulder for a more relaxed vibe. This handbag is not just functional, but it's also eco-friendly and sustainable, as it's made from cork, a renewable and biodegradable material. Get ready to tackle your day with style and ease with this beautiful and practical handbag.
Material: Upcycled Cement bags
Introducing a stylish and unique backpack that not only looks great but is also eco-friendly and socially responsible. This handmade backpack is crafted from recycled cement bags sourced from Thailand and Myanmar, ensuring that each backpack is one-of-a-kind. Its robust construction makes it incredibly sturdy and waterproof, making it ideal for exploring the city or commuting to university. With a spacious main compartment, there's plenty of room to carry all your essentials, while the added smaller compartment provides extra storage space for smaller items. This ethical backpack is not only a statement piece but also a testament to how we can make a difference by making conscious choices.
Material: Upcycled feed, rice, malt, and cement bags
Looking for a backpack that's not only functional but also environmentally friendly? Look no further than this Eco-Friendly Classic Backpack made entirely from upcycled feed, rice, malt, and cement bags. This unique material not only gives the backpack a rugged and edgy look but also repurposes materials that would otherwise go to waste. With its interior zip pocket and slip pockets, large front zip pocket, and side cargo pockets, this backpack has all the features you need for a day pack, computer bag, or even a quick overnight getaway. Plus, the padded adjustable shoulder straps make it comfortable to wear for extended periods. And if that wasn't enough, the backpack is fully lined with a material made from recycled plastic bottles, making it a truly eco-friendly choice. So not only can you feel good about how this backpack looks and functions, but you can also feel good about the positive impact it has on the environment.
Capacity: 9L or 17L
Get ready to upgrade your backpack game with this beautiful and elegant colored cork backpack. Crafted from high-quality cork sourced from Portugal, this backpack is not only stylish but also sustainable and eco-friendly, making it a PETA-approved vegan product. The cork material is lightweight, durable, and waterproof, making it perfect for daily use in any weather condition. Cleaning the backpack is a breeze; simply wash it under running water or wipe it down with a wet tissue. The backpack's versatility and timeless design make it the perfect match for almost every outfit, adding an element of sophistication and sustainability to your fashion statement. Make a responsible choice without compromising on style - grab this colored cork backpack today!
Material: Post-Consumer Recycled Plastic Bottles
Get ready to travel in style with ChicoBag's packable travel bag! Its convenient and compact design allows the entire bag to be easily stuffed into a built-in pouch, which comes with a metal carabiner clip that attaches anywhere to be unforgettable. The bag is not only functional but also eco-friendly. Made entirely from post-consumer recycled plastic bottles, ChicoBag practices ethical manufacturing and zero-waste operations, making it a responsible choice for conscious consumers. Plus, the breathable shoulder straps and adjustable sternum strap provide comfort and added stabilization while on the go. And, when it's time to wash, you can toss it right into the machine, knowing the colors and designs will never fade. Invest in a ChicoBag backpack and enjoy it for years to come while contributing to a better planet!
Capacity: 7 L
Material: Hemp & Recycled Polyester
Details: Waterproof baggie
Looking for a backpack that is both durable and environmentally conscious? Look no further than this backpack made from a blend of 70% hemp and 30% recycled polyester. Not only is it soft and fade-resistant, but the heavy-duty zippers are designed to avoid binding, biting, and separation, ensuring that your belongings are always safe and secure. Plus, the lightly padded interior lining is made from 100% cotton, giving it a comfortable feel that won't scratch or damage your items. With a customizable Velcro label, you can easily swap out your style or remove it altogether for privacy. And if that wasn't enough, the backpack even comes with a removable, airtight, clear plastic baggie to keep your essentials organized and easily accessible. It's the perfect backpack for the environmentally conscious and fashion-forward individual.
Capacity: 8 L
Details: Handmade in Nepal
Indulge in the beauty of sustainable fashion with Core Hemp's handmade backpack purse. This stunning boho bag is crafted by skilled artisans in the heart of the Himalayas, using only the finest Nepalese organic cotton. The result? A beautifully designed backpack purse that exudes style and quality. Each bag is unique, featuring gorgeous colors and patterns that are sure to make a statement. But that's not all - this backpack purse is 100% vegan, making it the perfect choice for those who want to make an ethical and environmentally friendly fashion statement. Whether you're hitting the streets or heading out on a wilderness adventure, this handmade backpack purse is the perfect blend of practicality and style.
In conclusion, ethical backpacks are more than just a stylish accessories; they are a symbol of responsible and sustainable living. By choosing an ethical backpack, you are supporting businesses that prioritize environmental and social responsibility, and making a positive impact on our world. Not only do ethical backpacks reduce your carbon footprint and promote sustainable practices, but they also provide fair working conditions for those involved in the production process. With so many benefits, it's no wonder that ethical backpacks have become a popular choice for those who want to make a difference with their purchasing power. So next time you're in the market for a backpack, consider investing in an ethical option that aligns with your values and helps build a better future for all.