10 Earth-Friendly and Made in the USA Backpacks for Back to School

This special section was created by natural product expert Amy Serotkin of The Mindful Home as part of Mothering’s Ultimate Green Guide to Back to School Supplies. Check it out for many more eco-friendly, made in the USA picks for back to school.

While the overwhelming favorite among parents seems to be L.L. Bean backpacks, only their totes are made in the USA.  In keeping with the theme of these guides, I decided to seek out some other options that were eco-friendly or made in the USA.  I’m happy to report that I found several that were both.

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Keen Harvest Bags

Available in messenger style, tote or backpack, these bags by Keen are made from “domestically harvested un-deployed side impact airbags – a polyester/nylon exterior with silicone water resistant coating.”  Not only are these bags functional and eco friendly, but they are MADE IN THE USA. 


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Duluth Pack

Duluth Pack makes classic styled bags in all sorts of colors, shapes and sizes.  This bag, like many of their bags, is made of rugged canvas with cotton webbing straps.  They also have bags made with wool and leather. Their bags are guaranteed for life and MADE IN THE USA. 

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De Martini Bags

De Martini Globe Canvas Company is credited with being the inventor of the original bike messenger bag.  The Ballistic Day Pack shown here is made of ballistic nylon.  De Martini offers several traditionally styled backpacks, as well as totes and messenger bags.  All of them are MADE IN THE USA.

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stone + cloth

Constructed of heavy cotton webbing with padded straps and antique brass hardware, these plastic free bags come rectangular shaped or rounded off like the bag featured above.  They are available in all sorts of colors, and purchases help provide scholarships to deserving students in Tanzania.  As if that wasn’t enough, they are also MADE IN THE USA.

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Parrot Canvas Company

There are numerous sizes and styles available here, from the very affordable $28 child’s pack pictured above, to larger backpacks.  They also carry totes, messenger bags and more.  All of their products are MADE IN THE USA.

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Tough Traveler

Tough Traveler carries a wide selection of bags and luggage.  The Otsego shown here is made of durable, lightweight packcloth nylon.  They have much smaller backpacks as well as bigger ones.  They are MADE IN THE USA.

The Canvas Simple Messenger Bag is made from 100% duck cotton canvas with waterproof lining material.  Tucker & Bloom also makes totes and modern styled backpacks.  They are all MADE IN THE USA.

 These backpacks from Apple Park are too cute for words!  They have 6 different styles/animals, and there are matching lunchpacks available.  They are made of 100% recycled material from PET bottles, and RESPONSIBLY MADE IN CHINA.


For those looking for a bag completely free of synthetics, Rawganique offers affordable hemp backpacks in various sizes and colors.  Just click on the tabs to see “Collegiate Zippered” and other styles.  They have metal zippers, hooks and snaps, hemp lining and the organic European hemp is processed only with water.  They are MADE IN EUROPE. 


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Keep your eyes peeled in stores for Timberland’s Waxed Canvas Line of backpacks and messenger bags.  Made of 50% recycled polyester, 50% cotton, and waxed for water resistance, they come in several shapes and sizes for different needs.  This one has an internal padded sleeve that can accommodate a 15 inch laptop.  IMPORTED


Amy Serotkin is dedicated to sustainable living and finding ways to eliminate toxins in her home.  She is an avid organic gardener and cook, and is always looking for more ways to challenge herself to lessen her family’s ecological imprint.

Her website, www.themindfulhome.blogspot.com, shares with consumers the information she’s found on toxins and eco friendly products that help eliminate disposables or toxin exposure.  She also hopes to highlight smaller retailers, crafters and manufacturers.

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