If your pre-pandemic life included a desk and co-workers, the abbreviation RTO (aka return to office) is likely a familiar one. The reality may be augmented, but the move back to office life still comes with one universal: Whether you make the trip by car, public transit, bike, or foot, commuting is back in a big way. So what better time to re-up your eco-conscious work bag, the better to carry your office (and personal) essentials?
From sustainable totes to crossbodies, structured to slouchy, we’ve scoured the web for a selection of work bags sure to align with any style, each made with environmentally sound methods in mind.
Read on to learn what separates a sustainable bag from the pack—and to shop our favorites.
The Benefits of Buying Sustainable Bags
In the world of sustainable handbags, planet-friendly materials reign. Creative alternatives to traditional materials abound from vegan leather to recycled water bottles to plant-based fibers. (If leather is used, then transparency around sourcing is key.) A clear and proven commitment to sustainability that addresses labor practices and waste and emission management matters, too.
In addition to reducing your carbon footprint, shopping for sustainable handbags are more durable than those made with synthetics, giving them a longer lifespan than fast-fashion options. Plus, shopping mindfully means supporting and rewarding environmental initiatives and a more mindful planet, in turn.
11 Eco-Conscious Work Bags for a Stylish RTO
1. Samara Vegan Apple Leather Tote, $295
With an exterior crafted from apple leather—a combination of apple skins and PU—and an interior lined in soft vegan suede, this tote features some truly innovative materials. This leather-look tote fits all of your everyday essentials—from your laptop to post-work workout gear—and includes large and small pockets for any extras or valuables.
2. Rothy’s The Essential Tote, $275
Rothy’s is something of a trailblazer in the alternative materials space. This roomy, all-you-can-fit tote is no exception, made from 816 grams of ocean-bound marine plastic and thread spun from water bottles. Its medley of neutral tones makes styling seamless, while strong top handles will be able to support your laptop, water bottles, books, and more—all of which are sure to fit. A bonus: the brand has been deemed zero-waste company by TRUE.
3. Cuyana System Tote, $278
While this Cuyana bag is made of real leather, the brand is certified by the Leather Working Group, meaning that the material is sourced and tanned with the environment in mind. The System Tote is available in a variety of colors and is entirely customizable, allowing you to dream up the perfect size and hue for you—and to add the extras of your choice. Lovers of interior pouches and optional straps, rejoice!
4. Nisolo Carry-All Handwoven Tote, $350
Leather, but make it 0% net carbon, crafted by artisans paid a 100% livable wage. Structural and water resistant, Nisolo’s Carry-All Handwoven Tote will find favor with those lusting after the likes of Bottega Veneta’s Arco.
5. Sézane Gabin Bag, $380
Those who prefer a relaxed silhouette should reach for this option from Sézane. Slouchy and chic, the Gabin Bag is tanned using a chrome-free process and vegetable tannins, resulting in a soft, smooth, and monogramable camel finish.
Recycle, reuse. This water-resistant and eco-conscious work bag is ideal for rainy commutes, and the sturdy, simple shape comes with a message threaded through the handles: “Please recycle.” Girlfriend Collective practices what its bags preach—this one is made entirely of recycled water bottles and is recyclable once its life on your shoulder comes to an end.
7. Alohas The L Bag, $300
Crafted from materials certified by the Leather Working Group, Alohas’ The L Bag combines the roomy dimensions of a tote with a stylish, elevated body. The brand favors on-demand production, meaning that pieces are made in small batches based on what’s actually been ordered to avoid waste and excess.
8. Baggu Cloud Bag, $56
Baggu’s Cloud Bag is something of a catch-all, with a soft and mutable shape allowing for comfort and lots of space. The bag is made of recycled heavyweight nylon made from pre-consumer waste and features a detachable pouch for all of your office extras.
9. ABLE Rachel Utility Crossbody Bag, $260
Knots, hardware, a detachable strap: the Rachel Utility Crossbody is designed for those who prefer that even their workwear feature a bit of flair. All of ABLE’s bags are crafted from sustainable leather collected from tanneries that use closed water systems to avoid waste and pollution. Plus, the brand uses scrap pieces to create smaller leather goods.
For a lunch-run accompaniment to your take-everything tote, shoulder this crossbody bag from Samara. Diminutive and designed with style in mind, Samara's Apple Leather Mini Crossbody holds your on-the-go essentials, a built-in card pocket serving to save some space. With an exterior crafted from apple leather (a combination of apple skins and PU) and an interior lined in soft vegan suede, Samara takes “eco-friendly” to a whole new level.
Made from a blend of new and recycled nylon, this Madewell eco-conscious work bag features exterior pockets for easy access, and enough room for your laptop, yoga mat, and more.