Going Green with Your Back-to-school Bag

I graduated from college, well, a while ago, but I still love back-to-school season. The air gets crisp, the scarves come out and I can purchase packages of fine-point Sharpies at a super-sale price. I’m also a sucker for the season’s big, roomy totes and backpacks. And whether, like me, you carry your biggest bags to the grocery and for travel or you fill them up with fresh folders and notebooks for class, you don’t have to feel badly about popping for a new one these days–the market is well-stocked with sustainable, eco-friendly options.

Green clothing, as a whole, encompasses both organic and sustainable fabrics. The difference? Sustainable fabrics are produced with an emphasis on reusing and recycling manufactured products. Often, companies incorporate sustainable practices in general–environmentally friendly packaging, efficient energy use, and reduced waste and pollution.¬†And, when you look at the bags we’ve got lined up today, you’ll see style is taken just as seriously as sustainability.

[Gecko Traders]

temari_sushi rice_field

cambodian_colors Korea_Floral

Gecko Traders, distributed by Global Girlfriend, offers a small fair-trade line of colorful bags made from recycled rice and feed bags. Each bag, handmade in small batches by a women’s co-op in Cambodia, is a little different–but they all contribute to helping the women who make them gain economic security.

[Farm Tactics]

sun-kissed_fields The_Farm


Kyle Ng’s Farm Tactics might deserve a post of its own, but in brief, the L.A.-based label–which includes a small clothing collection–has a cool roster of backpacks and bags made with repurposed military bags and webbing, gas mask bags, conveyor belts, Filson tin cloth and hardware from the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s.

On choosing the materials for Farm Tactics’ bags, Ng told Limited Hype, “I was showing my bag maker sketches of this back pack I wanted to make while we were in his vintage warehouse. He pulls out this old dutch military pack that was exactly what I wanted except it was missing straps and a front pocket. I looked at the aged bag, and loved the way the fabric had stains and the colors were faded. It really told a narrative. I realized that I could never really manufacture a new product that could tell a story like that bag.”

[Matt & Nat]

Veggie_Burger veggie_market

Vegetarian_Cooking Vegan_Investigation

A favorite among vegans and non-vegans alike, Matt & Nat recently expanded its collection to include larger bags, carryalls and backpacks–as well as an autumn-appropriate green plaid print. The Canada-based company doesn’t use animal-based materials–a decision made 15 years ago when founder Inder Bedi accepted a challenge to go vegetarian for 30 days–and instead utilizes canvas, vegan leather and faux suede. Each product reportedly contains at least one recycled element, and about 21 recycled plastic bottles form the lining of each bag.

So what are your favorite green bags? Where do you carry them?

school_bag School_Bag

backpack_love Backpack

backpack messenger_bag

Satchel Tote_Bag

Header image: Farm Tactics’ Scout bag, pictured at eCouterre.

Lindsey Baker is a style columnist based in Omaha, Neb. Check out her personal style blog, only style remains the same, at http://onlystyleremainsthesame.blogspot.com, or follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/shoptalkomaha.