From heading to a coffee shop for an afternoon meeting to trekking up a mountain on a weekend hiking trip, a backpack is one of the best versatile, carry-all bags. At Parker Clay, we believe in sustainable materials, production, and fair trade practices that support the planet and people alike through our backpacks and all leather goods.
True sustainability doesn’t stop at eco-friendly production — it should also support people — and that’s what we aim to do with each artfully crafted item. Every sustainable backpack purchase empowers women in Ethiopia with hours of work, fair wages, and other benefits to support their families. And it supports the planet with best practices. It’s beautiful, impactful, handcrafted leather with a story you’ll be proud to share.
Sustainable Backpacks for the Planet and Its People
At Parker Clay, we believe our products should have a positive impact — not just in your life but in the lives of those who help bring our sustainable leather goods to life. As a certified B Corp, we have mindfully curated every aspect of production, from working with local farmers and artisans to shipping items when they arrive on your doorstep, to ensure our products have a positive impact every step of the way.
What Defines Sustainable Fashion?
The term “sustainable fashion” can have a broad definition, depending on who uses it. So what does it mean to Parker Clay? As you’re shopping for a new backpack, you may discover many companies tout terms like “vegan leather” or “vegan backpacks” and present them as an eco-friendly alternative to traditional leather. However, that’s not the case. Vegan leather textiles are often made with plastic — like polyurethane (PU) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) — and harsh chemicals. They may be made with harsh coatings that harm the planet during production and end up in landfills within a short time because they aren’t durable — making them far from carbon-neutral or sustainable.
At Parker Clay, we go beyond minimizing harm with sustainable sourcing and natural materials. We ensure that we support the farmers and artisans who make our business possible. Here’s a look at Parker Clay’s commitment to truly sustainable backpacks and leather goods.
Support for Local Farmers and Artisians: We partner with local Ethiopian farmers and artisans to support them and their local economy. Many of our artisans are local women who have been impacted by human trafficking. We provide them with competitive wages and other benefits like transportation, coffee breaks, education, and more. We believe it’s important to do more than just provide living wages and safe working conditions — we want those who bring our products to life to thrive and have the resources to support their families.
Sustainable Sourcing: Our leather is sourced from animals raised primarily for farming, rather than explicitly for leather production. Because Parker Clay leather is a byproduct, it’s inherently more sustainable for the planet. This minimizes impacts and works toward the circular economy idea of zero waste, especially compared with other leather companies that raise animals with the sole intention of making leather goods.
Impactful Production: Sustainable practices don’t stop at sourcing. Every step of the production process and supply chain has an impact — and we want ours to be positive. Rather than using harsh chemicals and machines, our leather goods are crafted by hand with gentle dyes and eco-friendly materials. Our processes minimize environmental impacts, emissions, landfill waste, and pollution. Sustainable production also utilizes recycled materials — at Parker Clay, we use recycled water to further reduce waste.
Mindful Packaging: Parker Clay’s initiatives to minimize environmental impact continues when your item lands on your doorstep with zero-waste packaging. All products are shipped in a reusable organic cotton storage bag and recyclable cardboard.
Artful Ethiopian Handcrafting: Each item shows a unique story about where it came from and how it was made. From different grains in the leather to how it wears over time, the beautifully handcrafted goods from our artisans in Ethiopia are more than just bags and accessories — they’re works of art.
Designs for a Lifetime: At Parker Clay, our products are all created with high-quality, sustainable leather that’s meant to last a lifetime (and beyond). We don’t just believe that products should wear well over time — we believe they should get
Our Best Eco-Friendly Backpacks
Whether you’re searching for a versatile backpack for everyday use or something you can use to carry your laptop and other materials around for a workday, Parker Clay has you covered. Here are some of the best sustainable backpacks Parker Clay offers.
Looking for a backpack with function and luxury? The Miramar has a minimalist, sleek design that’s ideal for the office, an afternoon work session at a coffee shop, and transitioning to an evening workout class. It’s spacious enough for a 13-inch laptop and has a zippered closure and front pocket so you can stay organized and keep all your belongings secure. With adjustable straps that you can wear over your shoulder or a handle you can wear on your arm to double the bag as a tote, this backpack offers both style and comfort.
An exterior foam-padded laptop compartment keeps your tech safe whether you’re in a plane, a car, or on a train. Inside, zipper and slip pockets provide no shortage of compartments for all your tech gear, pens, and notebooks. Plus, an exterior zipper pocket on the front keeps your keys or wallet handy on the go. It’s roomy enough to serve as a carry-on, and the padded shoulder straps ensure you’ll be comfortable while traveling. It’s the perfect travel backpack for wherever life may take you. If you want to protect your leather backpack from the harsh elements you may encounter on a hike or trip, grab a Leather Protector Spray. Simply spray this water-repellent spray on all your leather goods to make them water-resistant to rain, snow, and spills.
Bale Sling Bag
If you want all the functionality of a backpack with a versatile design, look no further than the Bale Sling Bag. Named after the Bale Mountains in Ethiopia, this bag has an adjustable crossbody strap, so it can be worn as a one-strap backpack. Sling it to your front and carry it on your chest for security and easy access to the back panel pockets and zipper closure. Whether you’re headed to a concert or out running errands, this bag is big enough to carry a book, wallet, and any other items you may need for the day.
The Mari Backpack is the perfect carry-all for the busy parent or anyone on the go. With adjustable padded leather straps, you can sling this backpack wherever it’s convenient — whether it’s over your shoulders, on a stroller, or over your suitcase. Complete with a laptop sleeve, six pockets, and a zipper closure, there’s no shortage of space to stash snacks, baby wipes, and a change of clothes. Two interior side pockets make storing a water bottle or baby bottle easy and accessible, and an outside zipper pocket keeps all your essentials handy. This versatile design functions as a laptop backpack, diaper bag, travel bag, and more — making it ideal for busy parents, travelers, and everyone in between.
For the lover of canvas totes and the casual feel they bring, meet the Rincon Backpack.
With a heavy-duty organic cotton canvas body and premium leather bottom and straps, this backpack has all the durability and easygoing feel you desire in a bag. The leather straps also act as a holder to store a blanket so you can carry everything you need for an outdoor adventure. An exterior slip pocket and interior zipper pocket offer enough space for sunscreen, snacks, and sunglasses. It’s the ideal daypack for taking to the beach, park, or farmer’s market. Pair it with our Fair Trade certified Terra Tote for the perfect canvas duo.
Ella Mini Backpack
If you like a minimalist backpack that still has enough space to fit the belongings you need for the day, the Ella Mini Backpack purse is your friend. With adjustable straps, an exterior front zip pocket, and an interior slip pocket, there’s a home for your phone, keys, wallet, and a book. Stash your notebook inside for a relaxing journaling session at the coffee shop, or take it on a weekend trip as a mini travel companion.
Abby Drawstring Backpack
Looking for a bag that blends contemporary fashion, portability, and sophistication? The Abby Drawstring Backpack is like a bucket bag and backpack in one. Two exterior slip pockets, a drawstring closure, and an interior zipper pocket make this bag the stylish, carry-all accessory to any outfit. A D-ring allows you to buckle your clips and keys for easy accessibility, and adjustable straps mean you can adjust it to your personal comfort. Who said you had to sacrifice fashion for functionality?
The Parker Clay's Sustainability Promise
At Parker Clay, we are dedicated to creating the highest quality leather goods possible while ensuring support for our artisans and protecting the planet. Our warranty promise of long-lasting products means we’ll repair or replace any item free of charge if it fails to hold up over time.
You deserve the peace of mind knowing that your purchase helps contribute to a circular economy and directly supports the artisans who artfully crafted it — with a product that lasts a lifetime. It’s the Parker Clay promise of sustainability for the planet, its people, and a lifetime of love for your leather goods.