7 Useful Recycled Bags You Will Love

Simply buying less plastic is good, but buying recycled, helps to create a demand. And with many of the single-use plastic bans going into place, these are a great alternative. Recycled bags are a simple way to start on this mission.

These useful bags help support the recycling industries and reuse material that would otherwise be thrown away. So, these companies are working to keep plastic out of landfills and even more importantly, our rivers and oceans.

Our small changes today can influence others to also do the right thing for our future and the lives of the next generation.

4 useful bags that are made from recycled plastic and eco friendly sources


Alec was living in El Salvador where there is good surfing year round, when he noticed people using billboards as roofing. It dawned on him: billboards are durable and weather resistant, made from vinyl, and are not traditionally recyclable. So when he came back to the US, he grabbed his brother, and found someone to sew a surfboard bag made from used billboards. Several phone calls to some large billboard companies later, and truckloads started showing up. And so it began.

The average lifespan of a billboard is 4-8 weeks before it’s taken down. Billboards are made durable enough to withstand the elements yet lightweight enough to make the regular takedown easy. They come in two types of material: thin and thick. Thick material has a matte, smooth finish; thin material, on the other hand, has a glossy and gradient finish.

Rareform loves typography, colors, and abstract designs. They aren’t into faces, food, or logos and the team has strict cutting guidelines. They wash and cut the vinyl in Los Angeles, creating unique designs for every product.

Over the past seven years Rareform has repurposed 3 million pounds of vinyl that was destined for landfills.

Each item is sewn to create a unique, high-quality, durable product where there’s literally nothing like it. Each of the cut pieces is meticulously sewn together using high-quality materials to ensure that your bag can endure whatever adventure you take it on. 

Check out more of Rareforms bags and totes

Torrain LTD Edition Venture Pac

 LTD Edition Venture Pac
LTD Edition Venture Pac
Torrain LTD Edition Venture Pac
Torrain LTD Edition Venture Pac

The creator of Torrian, moved to California to take her hobby of making clothing to the next level. She became an apparel designer in the surf, skate, snow industry.

But she felt that even though the work was creatively rewarding, she couldn’t shake a deep dilemma. In her case, it was more and more obvious that the fashion industry is built on wasteful consumerism and empty values.

So in 2009, she went on a journey to Southeast Asia, and while traveling through Cambodia, she noticed the colorful plastic agricultural bags that littered the streets. That got her thinking and planning.

A few days later, at a night market in Siem Reap, she met Sothea, a local woman who would become important in the process she had in mind. They discussed a potential partnership that would employ and empower impoverished artisan communities throughout Cambodia.

After visiting the artisans, learning their backstory, and spending time on design and development, she went to Portland Oregon and launched TORRAIN. And after making a few backpacks, she started noticing the plastic agricultural bags everywhere. They appeared locally and abroad, being used for feed, cement, rice, malt, wheat, grass seed, flour, and more.

The sources are plentiful.

Now, Torrain sources materials from South Africa, Morocco, and the US as well as from Southeast Asia. And that’s just the outside of the bags. In addition to the exteriors, most of the bag liners are made from recycled plastic bottles and printed with their signature patterns.  Some use old sails from sailboats as the liner, it’s a union of design, sustainability, and community empowerment.

It has an exterior slip pocket, side cargo pockets, top snaps to keep your goods snug and secure. The dimensions are 14” tall x 9” wide x 4” deep and it’s easy to clean with a damp towel. These bags are made by an artisan in Portland, OR.

Also, they make smaller bags and wallets too, all from recycled plastic bags.

See more the Torrian Venture Pac and their other bags

Tentree – Inspired by Nature, Made From Nature

Tentree is rooted in the belief that we have a responsibility to protect and preserve the world we live in. As environmentalists, Tentree’s mission is to help you on your journey and empower you to do your best when it comes to the environment. You don’t have to be a hardcore environmentalist to make a difference.

It’s the little things, like riding your bike to work, bringing your own recycled bags, and buying an item that plants ten trees, they all add up. Especially when millions of other people start doing them too. Together, we have all made this mess one little thing at a time, and that’s exactly how we’re going to fix it. Buy one product, and they will plant ten trees.

Tentree also lives this as they are a B Corp certified company meaning they have proven to a third party that they are in business for more than just making money. They must show that they treat their employees well, make a good product and give back to society. Check out this article to learn more about B Corp certified companies.

Motion 24L Backpack

Made from 100% REPREVE Recycled Polyester, (recycled bottles), and BLOOM Foam Padding (plastic made from algae).

This unisex 24L daily backpack is a smaller backpack for daily use. Inside, it has a laptop sleeve, zippered storage pocket, and handle. Also, it’s available in a few different colors including this cool tree outline.

Motion 24L Backpack
Motion 24L Backpack

Designed in Canada, ethically made in Vietnam

Tentree - Motion 24L Backpack
Tentree – Motion 24L Backpack up close
Motion 24L Backpack
Motion 24L Backpack inside

The Motion 24L backpack features a smooth design that’s streamlined for a chic urban look.

So, whether you’re a student or heading to a boardroom conference, the Motion backpack blends function and modern style, so you can take it anywhere.

In my research for this product, I came across this video that answers some of the questions I had about this company. Give it a watch if you like.

See more Tentree’s Motion Backpack

Sea Bags Recycled Sail Cloth True North Tote

useful bag tote made from recycled rope and sails
Sea Bags Recycled Sail Cloth True North Tote
useful bag tote made from recycled rope and sails
The Sea Bags Recycled Sail Cloth True North Tote

The recycled bags are designed and sewn in a building that hangs over the water. Located on Custom House Wharf in the heart of Portland’s working waterfront, it’s an unconventional location to be sure. But they say, the sound of seagulls and the smell of bait from the local lobster boats is an important part of the character of the bags. 

First, sails are collected one at a time through a network of passionate boaters who love the community and the water.

Without a doubt, their materials come from Maine first, New England second, and the USA third. They use one of the last remaining thread manufacturers in the U.S. and one of a few rope manufacturers in New England. So, their sail supply chain is as local as it gets.

And, with many different styles and sizes of bags, there is one for everyone.

See the Sail Tote on Amazon

See here for a bigger list of recycled sailcloth bags, wallets and shower curtains.

Nixon Gamma backpack

useful backpack made from recycled ocean plastic
The Nixon Gamma backpack
Nixon Gamma backpack
Nixon Gamma backpack

My backpack is always with me when I go to my boat for the weekend and it is key to staying organized in the cabin.

In the beginning, Nixon was making watches, but they are expanding to recycled backpacks, shirts, and bags now.

This backpack is a 600d polyester exterior and 70d polyester interior made from Repreve recycled ocean plastic. In the main compartment, it has internal organization pockets and fits a  15” laptop with the external zipper access.

Outside, are skate straps, water bottle pocket, zippered stash pocket, and multi-use gear loop. So you don’t have to sacrifice good looks or function to make a difference with this heavy-duty recycled plastic backpack.

See the Gamma on Amazon

See here for more products made from recycled ocean plastic.

Rice Love – Jaipur Recycled travel backpack

Rice Love - Jaipur Recycled travel backpack
Jaipur Recycled travel backpack
Rice Love - Jaipur Recycled travel backpack
Rice Love – Jaipur Recycled travel backpack

Handmade from used jute/burlap rice bags, the bags in the Recycled Collection are made from plant-based fibers. Also, they are biodegradable and eco-friendly. Rice Loves’ recycled bags have the natural smell of jute/burlap. By keeping discarded rice bags out of the landfills they give them new life.

The new colorful cotton patterned pieces are consistent on every Jaipur. However, the burlap (jute) pieces on the sides and the front pocket are recycled from authentic Indian rice bags.

While you might find slight imperfections, they help tell this incredibly human story of the fabrics. Also, the story of the seamstress who made it, the family who received the rice, and you.

As you use this backpack, you carry the story forward through your daily adventures. When you buy one of their bags, Rice Love provides rice to families in need. For each bag bought, they give 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) of rice which provides enough for 12 individual meals.

Food for a family

So, based on a typical family of 4 in India, eating rice 3 meals per day, this gift lasts one day. Also, your bag comes with a unique hang tag number, which allows you to find the photo and story of the family you are helping on ricelove.com.

In order to make hand-delivery possible, others will be contributing to the same family you are. And, to be more efficient, Rice Love delivers 25 kilos of rice per family at a time, which provides for about a month’s supply of rice!

This is a lightweight backpack designed for day use. Great for packing a sweatshirt, laptop, food, and more.

See more of the Rice Love Bags

Day Owl – People First Sustainability

In March 2010, Ian Rosenberger went to Haiti after the earthquake and saw the destruction, waste, and lack of jobs. So, he set out, with some friends to create a use for all the plastic bottles he saw.

His idea was to make fabric with the discarded plastic. Later, after much work and an eventual partnership with Timberland, their first products were created in 2015.

The collective, called First Mile, has since grown because other big names like Arie, Adidas, Puma, HP, Ralph Lauren, Marmot, and Reebok saw the advantage of working together. They have seen that, more and more, customers are demanding that the products they buy, are more sustainably sourced and made.

Making the whole process transparent

Now, locals in Haiti, Honduras, and Taiwan make a living collecting and recycling plastic bottles, which then get transformed into innovative fabrics that are on the cutting edge of responsible retail.

When it comes to manufacturing their products, First Mile only works with partners who are committed to improving their own environmental sustainability and making the retail industry a safe, fair place to work.

Sadly, these practices are still far from what’s standard in retail. That’s why they are always looking for ways to do more good, and ultimately challenge the rest of the industry to follow their lead. Day owl is also a Certified B Corp company.

The Backpack by Day Owl

The Backpack by Day Owl
The Backpack by Day Owl

Calm on the outside, collected on the inside, all thanks to sneaky pockets that discreetly carry everything you need. Plus, it’s sustainably made from durable First Mile® waxed canvas made from 100% recycled post-consumer plastic bottles. 

Inside, it uses 100% recycled polyester lining and trims, LWG Certified leather detailing, water repellant neoprene, and conflict-free metal YKK zippers.

The Backpack by Day Owl
The Backpack by Day Owl

If your First Mile® canvas manages to catch a stain, simply spot clean it with water and a mild detergent, and air dry. Do not machine wash or dry.

Also, if your recycled bag gets ripped, chewed, or otherwise damaged, contact us and they will fix it right up because of Free Repairs for Life.  Save 25% off when you use the Day Owl discount code code “AFTERPAYDAY” 3/25/21 through 3/28/21.

See more of the Day Owl Backpack

Written by Jay Weaver, published 11/29/2020

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