You should consider looking for a nontoxic backpack for your children, avoiding backpacks made of new plastic or nylon. Be aware that some with cotton linings have been treated with pesticides. Instead, look for those made using recycled PVC or other recycled materials, rubbers, or natural materials such as hemp.
Rawganique, EcoBodyWear, and Hemp Sisters all make backpacks made from hemp. This messenger-style bag from Rawganique may fit that high-schooler looking to get away from a traditional pack.
Hemp Sisters has a large document bag for $54 and a side back pack for $48; they also carry a padded hemp computer bag for $64 which should meet multiple needs. Their colors and styles vary as do the styles they offer out.
In that same price range, Patagonia has a recycled nylon bag for $60 and REI has the upper level bag at $90 — their is made from recycled plastic bottles. Earthpacs has a cheaper version. But if you want to avoid those materials in recycled mode for the little tykes, try CBH Studio, which has PVC-free backpacks featuring not-so-endangered creatures, like polar bears, kiwi birds, and kitties for $30.
Fleurville uses recycled PVC-Teflon-free material to make kids’ bags in some of the cutest patterns Eco Lassie has seen.
By far the most unusual pack for the eco-conscious comes from Office Depot and their Volaic line. Available in backpack or messenger styles, these bags contain solar charging panels on their outer flaps, designed to provide recharging for MP3′s, Blackberrys, most cell phones, PDA’s, and even digital cameras. The bags are made of recycled soda bottles, making these the newest wave in eco backpacks.
Simple Shoes — whose sneakers a few of the Eco Women own — is making a backpack out of recycled material with PET straps and even coconut buttons.
Timbuk2‘s Swig is made from recycled PET fabric. It has a padded compartment for laptops and comes in several colors. The small size is supposed to fit ladies and children very well. With ergonomic straps, it has a swing-around access pocket and gadget loops.
Keen has the Morrison bag on offer. Using recycled material for its rubber bottom, it has a poly lining, aluminum hardware and dual compartments. A built-in computer sleeve keeps your gear organized. This bag is also available in different colors, and runs about $100, but Eco Lassie found it this week on eBags for a nifty $54.99. And it weighs only 2 lbs 6 oz.