Up until now I’ve had the pleasure of reveling solely in my kids’ little-ness. The baby and toddler life. Messy dinners and a messy home. Interrupted sleep. Moving at the speed of mothering, wiping faces and butts and trying to find me time. And couple time. And veg out time.

But my little one has just started Pre-K, and that means she needs a big-girl backpack. Sure, right now it’s only going to hold her blanket and sheet for naptime (as required by her school according to a code), but soon enough it will carry her first school pencils and notebooks. It’s the first step in acclimating to elementary school, the first of many ways we will prepare our kiddos for public education.

Making the Most Sustainable Choice

Eco-choices have become the default in my life, but that doesn’t mean it has become any easier — or less time-consuming, to make those choices. Once again, I found myself running through a line of questioning regarding what would be the “very best choice.”

Then I envisioned my mother, in the 70s and 80s, taking her kids to the store, choosing a solid-colored backpack and going home. The end — task complete.

While some part of me wanted to succumb to what the lords of Target had for me in this department, I decided to scope the web for an eco-bag and was pleasantly surprised at what I found.

Here’s how I chose the “right” bag. I asked myself:

  • What size can my child grow into? Part of making environmentally aware choices is assessing how long a product could be in use before you’d have to recycle or dispose of it. I wanted a bag lightweight enough to carry her through the years of lugging around textbooks but big enough to fit her as a 5th grader.
  • What design can my child grow into? This time, though it was a really tough call because the toddler bag was SO cute, I chose a more “mature” design over a bag that had “girly toddler” theme (a bright teal bag with pink and orange cheetahs). My daughter may love cheetahs now, but next week that could change! Better to avoid the themes that your child could grow out of soon.
  • What design could be repurposed by her brother in the future, or what bag would have the “highest use” value if it were to be resold? In this case, a unisex, gender-neutral bag hit all those checkmarks. (Plus, I believe colors belong to all children and that children’s toys, clothing, and lives should not be segregated in any way based on gender…. but more on that another time. 🙂
  • How can I avoid potentially toxic materials? Lots of kids’ toys, lunch bags, and backpacks contain PVC, also known as vinyl or a “#3 plastic.” PVC is considered a poison plastic and can be harmful to humans during the manufacturing process, while in use, and also after it is discarded. Learn more about PVC from the Center for Health, Environment & Justice.

The bag I chose: PARKLAND

Aside from the fact that my daughter self-titles much of her 4-year-old artwork as “Abstract” (🤣) and this bag happens to be called that, this bag hit all the marks, the biggest one being that is is made from recycled plastic! Yes, all PARKLAND bags as of 2018 have a post-consumer recycled exterior. This PARKLAND Kingston bag is made from recycled plastic bottles! Bonus: They make laptop bags, duffel bags, and more.

I received my bag and couldn’t be happier. It is super high-quality, light-weight as promised, and best of all, the kiddo loves it.

If you’re in need of a new bag, I highly recommend you check out PARKLAND bags!

Share your thoughts!

How do you make the best choices for your kids? Do you have a backpack brand you love? Tell us in the comments below!