My first choice was hemp and on a recent post I list the greatness of hemp, but one of the things it is not and that is waterproof - well at least the pack back I was looking at was not waterproof. Since we will be walking to school rain or shine - it would make sense to get a back pack that would still keep its contents dry in the pouring rain.
I have read too about back packs made out of old tires - now that would be great, funky and cool. But I could not find any online to buy and if my sleep deprived memory serves me well - if I did - then shipping to Canada was not an option. (on a side note: I would like to say that global warming is a worldwide thing and that if you are an online store selling 'green' products you should try ship worldwide!!! - it doesn't cost you but the person paying for the shipping, doesn't it??)
We finally settled on a "Book Bag" sold at Mountain Equipment Co-Op. While it not made made from a natural material or from a recycled material it is made from 'safe' material. PEVA - which as this website "Sorting Out the Vinyls" suggests: that the term vinyl in ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA), polyethylene vinyl acetate (PEVA), polyvinyl acetate (PVA), and polyvinyl butyral (PVB), however, does not refer to PVC and does not raise the same concerns associated with chlorinated molecules like PVC. Now I am not a chemistry major (but my understanding is that it (PEVA) is safe).
Also, the company representing this product is in support of wilderness and conservation. They develop award-winning green retail stores and they strive to make their products with a minimum impact on the environment. They also are a member of 1% for the Planet which means they donate 1% of all sales back to the planet. The reviews for this back pack noted that it lasts for many years - hence we will not have to buy a new one for a very long time (unlike the superhero models that last - if you are lucky - the school year). So we ultimately will be reducing waste by reusing this bag for years to come.
As this news article from November 2007 states: "High levels of lead in children's backpacks, rain ponchos, vinyl lunchboxes and toys are documented by nonprofit environmental health and consumer protection groups in two reports this week." I wanted to make sure that I at least stayed away from that in choosing a back pack.
Should you wish to look at some really cool hemp backpaks be sure to visit: Rawganique