While there are a few school-aged things you should leave in the past (think: Trapper Keepers, ink-dyed pencil cases), there’s one academia essential that’s worth hanging onto for the long haul: a good backpack. Already chucked (or, better yet, donated or ethically recycled) your trusty Jansport? There's an eco-friendly backpack waiting patiently waiting to take its place in your adult life. Meet: The United By Blue Rift Backpack (Buy It, $88, amazon.com).
Made entirely from recycled polyester, this eco-friendly backpack is far from the flimsy, plastic packs you begged your mom for every September: It has a smaller environmental impact than its virgin polyester counterparts, which are often produced using large amounts of crude oil. (ICYDK crude oil, aka petroleum, is removed from the ground and commonly broken down into products such as gasoline, diesel fuel, jet fuel, and more.)
Not only does sourcing this crude oil disturb land and marine ecosystems as well as produce large amounts of wastewater, but using it also emits carbon dioxide, the harmful greenhouse gas that's currently one of the biggest culprits to climate change, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. What's more, polyester manufacturing plants release volatile organic compounds and particulate matter (which increases your risk of developing respiratory and other health problems) into the atmosphere and other pollutants into wastewater, according to an article in Environmental Health Perspectives. (Related: This Eco-Friendly Yoga Mat Can Handle Your Sweatiest Downward Dog)
Luckily, the United By Blue backpack’s recycled polyester material doesn’t require as much crude oil to produce. Plus, it provides a use for post-consumer and post-industry plastic that may have otherwise been hanging out in a landfill or floating in the oceans, according to the company. Even more praiseworthy, though, is that for every product sold, United By Blue removes one pound of trash from oceans and waterways around the world, amounting to more than 868,000 pounds last year alone.
If the environmental perks don’t convince you to add the United By Blue backpack to your shopping cart ASAP, its functional features definitely will. Designed to be your go-to for hitting the trails or hopping on a train, the lightweight, eco-friendly backpack boasts a padded laptop pocket and a water bottle sleeve to stash your work essentials, as well as adjustable, padded shoulder straps that won’t dig into you. And need not forget about all of the pockets that keep your hiking snacks neatly organized. You won’t have to rummage around the bottom of the 25-liter bag in search of your energy bar.
Plus, you won’t need to worry about rainstorms and mud splashes ruining the look of your eco-friendly backpack, either. Thanks to its durable water repellent finish, the pack won’t absorb moisture and resists staining, so even the rust-colored version will look good as new after a day-long hike (or a coffee spill).
This eco-friendly backpack can withstand the tests of time, too, according to shoppers. “Bought this backpack in green for my husband for Christmas [seven months ago at the time], and he has used it almost every day since for work and it is holding up super well," wrote one reviewer. "It’s very well made with quality materials. We’ve also brought it on a few trips and it was very useful for that as well."