Can You Recycle Backpacks?

Despite being so useful, you will likely find many backpacks lingering on the wall in several people’s homes. This is probably because these bags are old and serve no purpose again. The idea of what to do with these old backpacks is quite far from a lot of people. Though some of these old backpacks are no longer their right color, size, or style, they are quite functional, and there are a whole number of things you can choose to do with these backpacks.

However, for the benefit and the safety of your environment and that of the general society, you must choose to do the right thing with these backpacks. Recent research shows that 85% of old backpacks end up in landfills, and they occupy about 5% of landfill spaces.

This is not a good thing for the environment, and this is why this post considers some of the direct implications of backpacks to the environment. This would be details-filled, and all we ask is you to take a seat and join us in exploring the various answers to pressing questions regarding what to do with old and used backpacks? Here we go. Enjoy.

Are Backpacks Recyclable?

Backpacks serve a lot of purposes to us, and as much as we love them and wouldn’t want to part with them, it is certain that we can’t use them forever. If this is so, it is time we come to terms on how to dispose of them.

One of the best ways to do this is to consider their predictability. But then, is this possible? Let’s find out together.

To a considerable extent, we will say backpacks are generally recyclable. Their recyclability is due to the materials and elements from which they are made. Hence, before you decide to put your old and used backpacks in the recycling bin, endeavor to know the type of material from which it is made.

Most of the backpacks made today are produced from different natural and synthetic materials such as cotton, plastic (polyester), nylon, canvas, leather, polypropylene, and PVC.

These materials are highly recyclable due to their ability to withstand the recycling processes and procedures. However, you need to know that while some are easy to be recycled, others are not. This is the reason you will likely find a good number of recycling stations, either local or state, who are interested in helping you get only some of your old backpacks made with selected materials recycled.

There is no doubt that this is not as encompassing as it should be. For instance, what happens to the backpacks which, though are recyclable, require difficult recycling processes? Well, while we wait for the answer, you may want to ensure you keep an eye on one of those backpacks that are easily recycled.

Let’s discuss how to go about the recycling processes.

First and foremost, you need to get your old backpacks to the nearest recycling station or get them stacked in your recycling bin to be picked up by the recyclers.

Once delivered to the recycling station, the various parts of the backpacks are manually or mechanically separated. The metals will be collected from fiber, plastic, and other materials. While plastics and metals are melted to produce other useful items, new backpacks inclusive, the cotton and fiber are recycled immediately without tedious processes.

Are Backpacks Bad For Your Back?

The right and most efficient answer to this question is that backpacks aren’t bad for your back; the weight of the items you put in them is the actual cause of the pain and stress you are going through. Research carried out by health workers through a recent study has shown that the force and energy placed on your back/spine is seven times the weight of your backpacks.

From kindergarten to pre-primary to primary and eventually, to high school and college as well as to that big trip, our lives largely depend on using a backpack to carry our belongings and other valuables. But while these bags are quite suitable for carrying everything we need, we often include items we don’t necessarily need. With days and weeks going by, the strain and pain caused by these things can cause a lot of danger to the spine and the body in general.

Carrying a backpack with very heavy items can be responsible for wear and tear on the ligaments, joints, muscles, and across every other part of the back and in the hips. Too often, the extra weight is often borne by these parts of the body, but because they do not have the strength and ability to withstand such weight for a long period, degeneration sets in, which can further be responsible for loss of motion, stiffness, and pain.

The effects do not stop here. They spread to other parts of the body and become a joint burden borne by the muscles and ligaments.

Apart from chronic pain in the body, having heavy items in your backpack can cause compressed discs, particularly in the spine. You are likely to suffer neck pain as well. Your body posture can be altered, especially if you are used to carrying the bag on one side of your shoulder. Studies have proved that those who carry a backpack on just one shoulder usually end up leaning/bending to one side.

Thus, you must note the items you are putting into the backpacks rather than watch out for the backpack. The items, not the bag, are bad for your back and body as a whole.

Can You Donate Old Backpacks?

Once schools are in session and are planning on getting new backpacks for your kids, what happens to those old ones lingering on the wall? Do you intend to throw them away? Instead of letting these old backpacks mess your surroundings up or sit unused in one corner of your house, you can choose to donate them to millions of kids and individuals across the world who need them.

Research has shown that millions of schoolchildren lack the necessary materials and tools required for schooling. You have the power to change that. However, before donating your backpacks to them, make sure that the backpacks have the following qualities.

  • Make sure the zipper is in good shape
  • Check for rips or holes on the bag
  • Ensure that the straps of the bags aren’t torn or worn out
  • Check the color and texture if they are still attractive
  • Repair if needed

Where do you donate these backpacks? We have helped you by providing a list of those places you can choose to donate your old backpacks in the paragraphs below.

Schools And Colleges: Many students go to school without having a backpack to put their notes and supplies in. You can close the gap by checking your local schools and colleges to know of students to whom your donations might help.

Foster Homes And Adoption Centers: You know those you are likely to find here, don’t you? In most cases, these foster homes and adoption centers do not have the resources to provide every child with the school items and supplies they need, particularly backpacks. You can choose to make a difference by looking out for adoption centers and foster homes around you and donating your old backpacks to them.

Youth Centers: When you hear about youth centers, what comes to your mind? A place for feeding and sheltering homeless young people? It goes beyond that. These centers are committed to helping these young minds get back on their feet, which can best be achieved through education. These centers lack the supplies to make learning easier and attractive to them. You can donate your old backpacks to them.

Are Backpacks Allowed On Planes?

Traveling by air can be a little bit complicated, especially when issues regarding luggage are concerned. Backpacks are allowed on planes. This, however, depends on each airline. There are certain rules and regulations put up by various airlines you need to adhere to as far as you are flying with your backpack.

When traveling by air, your backpack can be considered a personal item if it fits below the seat in your front. But if it doesn’t, perhaps, it contains some bulky and fragile items, it will be regarded as a carry-on item. To help you understand this phenomenon quite well, we will be providing you with the rules and regulations of some frequently used airlines in the subsequent paragraphs.

1. Delta Airlines: Carry-on backpacks larger than 22×14×9 are not allowed on Delta airlines. Also, your backpack can only be regarded as a personal item if it fits perfectly under the seat in your front. You are safe to travel with your backpack on Delta airlines if you meet these requirements.

2. American Airlines: This airline’s rules and regulations are quite similar to those cited by their Delta counterparts. The only difference here is that the backpack will be counted towards your allowance.

3. Jetblue Flyer: As long as your backpack isn’t longer than 17 inches, wider than 13 inches, and higher than 8inches, it is suitable to be flown on this airline.

What To Do With Old Backpacks?

Why throw away your old and used backpacks when you can choose to be creative using them. There are a whole number of things you can do with them. So, what can you use them for? Take a look at the list below.

1. Table Cover

With the help of the materials and fabrics in your backpack, you can create a table cover. To make the table cover more attractive, make sure you remove all the attachments like the buckles and zippers. With good sewing skills, you can join various parts of the fabrics and create an appealing craft out of them.

2. Tool Kit

Do you have your tools and equipment just anywhere in the house? Do you find it difficult to locate these tools whenever you need them? You can solve all these problems by making use of your old backpack as a tool kit. This will also prevent your tools from getting exposed to the elements and atmosphere.

3. Offer Them For Sale

Here’s another lucrative thing you can choose to do with your old backpack. You can put up a garage sale for your old backpack. Through this means, you will be able to earn a fortune from your old stuff.

4. Offer Them For Donation

You can choose to offer your old backpacks for donation. You can donate them to religious outlets, foster homes, adoption centers, youth centers, schools, and colleges. These supplies will make life better for individuals who belong to these places.


From schooling to other activities like hiking and other sports, backpacks have become common and popular. However, there is a pressing demand for these items once they are old and worn out to avoid littering our environments with their parts. Since they can be recycled, you can put them up for recycling or offer them for donation. In all, ensure that you are conscious of the environment.

Share on:

About Rinkesh

A true environmentalist by heart ❤️. Founded Conserve Energy Future with the sole motto of providing helpful information related to our rapidly depleting environment. Unless you strongly believe in Elon Musk‘s idea of making Mars as another habitable planet, do remember that there really is no 'Planet B' in this whole universe.