Green bags: 21 of the best eco-friendly backpacks UK

Girl with eco-friendly tan backpack

Green bags: 21 of the best eco-friendly backpacks UK

There are few accessories as reliable as a trusted backpack. Used for everything from going on far flung adventures to the commute into work, it is no wonder that these handy bags are so popular. So, to make finding the perfect backpack a little easier, we are taking a look at the brands making eco-friendly backpacks that UK conscious consumers can love.

While backpacks have been around for a long time and were historically made from materials such as canvas or leather, in the conventional modern backpack nylon reigns supreme.

While nylon may have its functional advantages, virgin nylon does no favours for the environment. Nylon contributes to everything from pollution during production, to microplastics littering the sea. See our expose on nylon for more information.

A different approach

Brands making sustainable backpacks take a different approach. They make conscious choices when it comes to choosing textiles and raw materials. This means incorporating recycled and environmentally friendly materials, demonstrating an overall more conscious approach to production. Some materials to look out for in ethical backpacks include:

  • Organic cotton certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard
  • Recycled polyester
  • Other recycled materials
  • Innovative new products such as fabrics made from cactus or plastic bottles

As well as materials, sustainable brands consider factors including carbon emissions, overproduction and recycling practices.

Sustainable and ethical brands also factor in aspects such as working rights and fair conditions across the supply chain. This means certification such as Fair Trade, independent audits, and policies like living wages and anti-discrimination policies.

In addition, animals shouldn’t have to suffer for ethical products. To find an ethical backpack look out for vegan certifications and other animal welfare accreditations.

Eco-friendly backpacks and rucksacks for UK consumers

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So now for our roundup of the best sustainable backpacks that don’t cost the earth!

1. Wave

Roll-top backpack from sustainable brand Wave UK

Based: UK         Ships to: Worldwide
Price: £35
Sustainability creds: 1% for the Planet member, supports marine conservation charity, use of recycled packaging, carbon neutral shipping, GRS verified, use of recycled materials

The maker of trendy, sustainable phone cases, Wave has expanded to create its roll-top backpack. Made from recycled plastic, the eco-friendly backpack from this UK brand is waterproof, durable, and made for everyday adventures.

As well as using sustainable materials, Wave supports a range of sustainable initiatives. Its involvement in 1% for the Planet and its support of Surfers Against Sewage demonstrates an ongoing commitment to environmental protection.

2. Tropicfeel

Cruiser eco-friendly backpack from Tropicfeel

Based: Spain         Ships to: Worldwide
Made in: Europe & Asia
Price: £49
Sustainability creds: Use of recycled materials, works with certified suppliers, use of organic materials

Designed to be that extra bag when you need it, the Cruiser backpack from Tropicfeel works as a fully functional backpack, yet can cleverly fold up into a handy little pouch when not in use. The style is versatile and weatherproof, great for day trips and made for life on the go.

While the label does still use some virgin polyesters, it is great to see it incorporate some recycled fibres in its range as well. It would be great to also see it expand its sustainability initiatives into more stages beyond product manufacturing.

3. Eastpak

Softrib Oldrose sustainable backpack from Eastpak UK

Based: Belgium Ships to: Worldwide
Price: £55
Sustainability creds: Use of some sustainable and recycled materials, sustainable head office, repair service, vegan products

Made from soft, ribbed fabric in a rosy hue, the Softrib Oldrose backpack from Eastpak has an almost vintage inspired feel. This cute backpack comes complete with a water bottle pocket, zippered front pocket, laptop sleeve, and padded adjustable shoulder straps. It is also 100% vegan.

The brand could do more to improve its overall sustainable activities. However it has started to incorporate sustainable materials in its products, and its 30-year repair warranty policy shows a proactive approach to reducing post-consumer textile waste.

4. Fable England

Based: UK         Ships to: Worldwide
Price: £60
Sustainability creds: Partnered with Make it Wild, use of some recycled materials

Fable England’s Botanical Pumpkin Black Backpack is sweet and elegant. The bag’s nature-inspired print features charming florals and the style is the perfect size to fit all the everyday essentials. Like all Fable products, the backpack’s design has a timeless element.

It would be great to see fewer nylon fabrics in Fable’s range and more environmental policies. However, it is encouraging that the label offsets emissions through tree planting programs.

5. Millican

Core Zip Pack, a sustainable bag from Millican UK

Based: UK         Ships to: Europe & the USA
Price: £70
Sustainability creds: Use of recycled materials

In a bright, sunset-inspired hue, the Core Zip Pack from Millican is an eco-friendly UK backpack made to brighten any day. The sustainable rucksack is made from recycled polyester, and is versatile enough to be a great accessory for a day hiking, travelling or exploring the city.

Millican uses recycled and repurposed materials in its bags and creates durable designs that are made to last. More concrete policies and data regarding sustainable activities on the website would be great to see.

6. Lefrik

Based: Spain         Ships to: Worldwide
Made in: Asia
Price: £73
Sustainability creds: Recycled materials, audited factories, vegan

Incorporating minimalistic designs and clever practical elements, Lefrik has made a travel essential that is sleek, on-trend and built to last. The brand has a range of styles, including the trendy Scout Skog backpack, that comes in 22 different colours/designs!

Turning waste into a wearable product, Lefrik crafts bags from from recycled plastic bottles. The brand creates styles versatile enough to be used for heading to the office, travelling or going to school, and has been approved as vegan by PETA.

7. Timberland

Bold Beginnings, an eco-friendly backpack from Timberland UK

Based: USA         Ships to: Worldwide
Price: £80
Sustainability creds: Use of some recycled materials, use of some sustainable materials, recycled packaging

The Bold Beginnings backpack by iconic brand Timberland is designed for adventures. Available in black or tan, the backpack features multiple compartments and incorporates recycled polyester elements.

Timberland has begun to include some recycled materials in its ranges. It offers tips and tricks on how consumers can improve their impact. We’d love to see it do more in the sustainability space, such as sharing more information on its supply chain practices.

8. The North Face

The North Face's Jester backpack

Based: USA          Ships to: Worldwide
Price: £80
Sustainability creds: Bluesign, use of some eco-friendly and sustainable materials, Responsible Down Certified

A standard in the adventure products industry, the North Face has a backpack for whether you are wanting to carry your books to work (check out the Jester backpack), or climb a mountain. The brand’s wide range is lightweight while still being durable, and comes in a variety of colours and designs.

While the North Face is still far from perfect when it comes to sustainable and ethical assurances, it has made steps in this area. Many products come with warranties to improve their longevity and the label aims to stop using plastic packaging by 2025.

9. Cariuma

Cariuma sustainable backpack

Based: Brazil         Ships to: Worldwide
Price: £89
Sustainability creds: Global Recycled Standard, GOTS certified materials, WRAP certified manufacturing partner, B-Corp certified, I’M GREEN certified sugarcane, tree planting initiatives

Coming in 7 different colours for all tastes, the JJ backpack will fit your laptop up to 17″, your reusable water bottle and has plenty of room for everything else. It even has a chest strap to keep it super comfortable.

Cariuma are a certified B Corporation meaning that they meet the highest standards in environmental and social sustainability. They use a large range of sustainable materials and make sure that their partner factories offer fair working hours and wages substantially above legal minimums.

10. Ucon Acrobatics @ Wolf & Badger

Hajo Medium Lotus eco-friendly bag from Ucon Acrobatics

Based: German/UK         Ships to: Available through Wolf & Badger
Made in: China
Price: £95
Sustainability creds: Use of some sustainable materials, ensures a living wage, PETA Approved Vegan, works with non-profit My Climate, supports Save the Children

The Hajo Medium Lotus bag from Ucon Acrobatics is futuristic, sleek and effortlessly cool. Designed to be durable and transeasonal, this vegan bag is made to stand the test of time and to always be on-trend. It also comes in a “mini” version and in various cool colours.

Ucon Acrobatics takes a good approach to sustainable production. It uses sustainable materials in some of its ranges and operates with the motto of ‘minimal design, minimal emission.’ Its creative designs are made with the underpinning belief that quality products shouldn’t come at the cost of humans, animals, or the environment.

11. Jack Wolfskin

Jack Wolfskin's Athomas Shape 20 backpack

Based: Germany         Ships to: Worldwide
Made in: Asia & Europe
Price: £95
Sustainability creds: Some of the supply chain Fair Wear Foundation certified, use of sustainable and organic materials, Bluesign certified products, member of Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC)

Lightweight while still having a large main compartment, the Athomas Shape 20 pack from Jack Wolfskin is made for adventures in the outdoors. The rucksack’s innovative S shape back design is created to mimic the natural curve of the spine, providing maximum comfort on every long hike.

Jack Wolfskin offers PFC-free products and has incorporated recycled materials in some of its products. It has shown a commitment to ongoing sustainable improvement through its membership of groups such as SAC.

12. Sandqvist

Alfred bag, an organic backpack from Sandqvist UK

Based: Sweden         Ships to: Worldwide
Price: £109
Sustainability creds: Use of organic and recycled materials, tanneries audited by the Leather Working Group, Fair Wear Foundation

The Alfred bag from Sandqvist has an edgy and modern undertone that makes it stand out in our roundup of sustainable UK backpacks. Made from organic cotton and recycled polyester, the Alfred bag is water resistant and features a roll-top design.

Sandqvist uses sustainable materials, and while the brand does use leather it does have certification to make this a more sustainable process. It has also taken steps to create a fairer supply chain.

13 . Stubble & Co

Commuter backpack from Stubble & Co UK

Based: UK         Ships to: Worldwide
Price: £125
Sustainability creds: Climate Neutral Certified, member of 1% for the Planet, use of recycled materials, repair services, sustainable packaging, member of BSCI

As the name may suggest, the Commuter backpack from this British brand, is a great sustainable style for the daily commute. The environmentally friendly bag comes in a neutral black tone and incorporates ergonomically designed straps and an internal iPad sleeve.

Stubble & Co has supported climate change mitigation projects and uses packaging with FSC-certified origins.

14. Tentree

Tentree's Mobius eco-friendly backpack UK

Based: Canada         Ships to: Worldwide
Made in: Vietnam
Price: $128
Sustainability creds: Tree planting programs, Climate Neutral Certified, B Corp certified, use of recycled and sustainable materials

With an impressive 35L capacity, the Mobius backpack from Tentree can be used for a day exploring or a weekend away. The bag has a lining made from recycled polyester and trims made from post-consumer waste, supporting an ethical approach to production.

With every purchase, Tentree supports tree-planting initiatives. The label uses renewable energy in its supply chain and has achieved coveted B Corp certification.

15. 8000 Kicks

Everyday backpack from eco-friendly brand, 8000 Kicks

Based: USA         Ships to: Worldwide
Made in: Portugal and China
Price: £131
Sustainability creds: Vegan, use of natural and sustainable materials, Oeko-Tex, pre-ordering for some products to avoid over-production

8000 Kicks holds the achievement of having created the world’s first waterproof hemp backpack. The Everyday Backpack comes complete with side pockets, anti-theft pockets and USB power plugs. The rucksack embraces a classic design concept, incorporating earthy colours and rustic yet modern tones.

8000 Kicks should be commended for using a sustainable material to make its products, and for its pre-order practice on some products. We’d also love to see it implement or demonstrate policies to ensure fair supply chains and support more circular practices for when backpacks become worn out.

What’s more, Good Maker Tales readers get a 10% discount with the code GOODMAKERTALES.

16. Corkor

Corkor's Cork, a sustainable backpack in the UK

Based: Portugal         Ships to: Worldwide
Made in: Portugal
Price: £137
Sustainability creds: Plastic free, sustainable packaging, PETA Approved Vegan, natural and sustainable materials

Sporty, yet still encompassing a feminine vibe, the Cork Backpack from Corkor is made from sustainable materials and designed to become an everyday favourite. The backpack comes in a range of earthy hues and is crafted from cork sourced from Portugal.

Corkor embraces natural materials and features products that are cruelty-free and PeTA Approved. The label’s ethical products are made by artisans in Portugal.

17. Matt & Nat

Sevan vegan backpack from Matt & Nat UK

Based: Canada         Ships to: Worldwide
Price: £140
Sustainability creds: PeTA Approved Vegan, use of recycled materials

Made from recycled windshield glass resin the Sevan Backpack from Matt & Nat is vegan and cruelty-free. The bag comes in a range of on-trend colours, incorporates a sophisticated style and includes a lining made from recycled plastic bottles. With a sleek look, it is great for the daily commute.

A vegan-friendly addition to our roundup of eco-friendly backpacks for UK shoppers, Matt & Nat should be commended on its commitment to animal welfare. We’d also love it to share more information on policies it has regarding supply chain ethical practices across all of its factories.

18. Osprey

Osprey's Fairview 40 eco-friendly backpack UK

Based: USA         Ships to: Worldwide
Price: £140
Sustainability creds: Bluesign approved fabric, use of recycled materials, member of EOCA, offers preloved platform, supports conservation projects

The perfect size for carry-on, Osprey’s Fairview 40 backpack is made for weekends away. Created from durable fabrics, this trusted bag is designed to be the perfect companion for outdoor adventures for years to come.

Osprey has taken a diverse approach to social and environmental responsibility. It has supported wildlife projects, offers a resale platform alongside its new products to improve waste levels, and uses some sustainable materials in its ranges.

19. Will's Vegan Store

sustainable backpack satchel from Will's Vegan Store

Based: UK         Ships to: Worldwide
Made in: Portugal
Price: £158
Sustainability creds: Vegan, recycling program, carbon-neutral certified, plastic free packaging

Incorporating a charming satchel inspired design, the Large Backpack Satchel from Will’s Vegan Store is carbon neutral certified. This vegan backpack is crafted from Italian vegan leather, features trendy front buckles and adjustable straps meaning it can be used as a backpack or cross shoulder bag.

Will’s Vegan Store makes ethical vegan products. It also has a return to recycle program in which used products are repurposed into new products.

20. Labante London

Rosie Vegan Mini Backpack from Labante London

Based: UK         Ships to: Worldwide
Made in: China
Price: £159.97
Sustainability creds: Use of recycled materials, PeTA approved vegan, SEDEX certified factories, supports charitable organisations

The Rosie Vegan Mini Backpack from Labante London is chic and edgy. The bag is handwoven using high quality vegan leather and has a multifunctional appeal with straps that can transform it from a backpack to a satchel design, making it ideal for everyday use.

The brand has supported a range of environmental, social and welfare organisations, including Woodstock Farm Sanctuary and St. John’s Hospice. It also has PVC free styles and uses certified ethical factories.

21. Elvis & Kresse

Elvis & Kresse Right to Roam eco-friendly backpack

Based: UK         Ships to: Worldwide
Made in: UK
Price: £290
Sustainability creds: Donates to charity, use of recycled and reclaimed materials, certified B Corporation, Living Wage Employer, Certified Social Enterprise

While the Elvis & Kresse backpack range may be small, it is mighty. Backpacks incorporate the brand’s signature style, showcasing a vibe where industrial minimalism meets inner city chic. Coming equipped with internal pockets and enough room for a change of clothes, the Right to Roam bag is practical as well as stylish.

Made from materials such as decommissioned fire hoses and Burberry leather, these bags are an example of how quality materials can be saved from the waste pile and turned into something really cool. The brand also donates 50% of profits to charitable initiatives.

Sustainable, funky and functional bags

The good news is that whether you need a bag for epic outdoor activities, or just for the daily commute, there are trendy, practical and sustainable backpacks out there. These eco-friendly bags are made from brands that consider their carbon footprint, champion materials made from recycled and natural resources, and look after people and the planet.

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