New guide: Sustainable school bags for our climate

The first school bag of one's own awakens the excitement in first graders about the upcoming start of school. When choosing a model, the design is usually crucial for the new generation. Special attention should be paid to the ergonomics and sustainability of the school bag - which will hopefully be used for several years.  You can also pay attention to the environment when buying school supplies and buy sustainable products.

An overview can be found in the initiative "Clever einkaufen für die Schule. Und die Umwelt freut sich!" The guide 2020 was created by the Federal Ministry for Climate Action (BMK) in cooperation with the Austrian Economic Chamber and the Austrian paper trade.

A sustainable start to school

Starting school is an exciting time for children - many can't wait to go to class with their first school bag. There are environmentally friendly alternatives when choosing a model. "The initiative draws attention to high-quality and, above all, environmentally friendly school articles and offers parents the opportunity to find out about sustainable products at specialist retailers before they go shopping. Our guidebooks provide parents with practical guidance on how to take care of the environment and the health of their children when buying schoolbags," emphasises Leonore Gewessler, Climate Action Minister.

On the initiativès website, the online product finder provides more than 4,500 sustainable product recommendations for office and school materials. In addition, mini guides and campaign documents are available for free download or can be ordered free of charge at In the context of environmentally friendly school articles such as exercise books or pens, the Austrian Ecolabel is a reliable point of reference: products awarded with the Austrian Ecolabel are also listed on the website.

On the back of the little ones

Not all schoolbags are the same and vice versa. In most cases, students change from a school bag to a school backpack within the first three school years. If the school backpack has the necessary ergonomic requirements, it can be chosen at the beginning of primary school. The difference lies mainly in the shape and stability of the bags. The material of the school backpack is more flexible and therefore slightly lighter. The advantages of school bags are the rigid box shape, which avoids dog-ears, and the compartments, which provide a clear overview. The school bag thus helps to give a good start to school life.

Recognising harmless schoolbags

Children should be protected from harmful pollutants. Attention can be paid to the proof that guarantees that certain harmful substances are definitely not used. The "PFC Free" label - PFC stands for perfluorinated and polyfluorinated chemicals used in bags for impregnation and classified as hazardous - and the „Fair Wear Foundation (FWF)“ label, with which brands meet their social responsibility in manufacturing, are helpful here. With the "bluesign®SYSTEM PARTNER" label, various manufacturers commit themselves to continuously improve their environmental performance.

"Waste" becomes New

In addition, manufacturers are increasingly offering models with textiles made from recycled PET bottles. Recycling plastic conserves valuable resources and reduces the mountains of waste. Since climate change has dominated the environmental debate, the range of products and services designed to guarantee climate neutrality has also been growing. For example, climate-neutral schoolbags are now also available. It makes sense, however, to pay attention to whether the compensation of CO2 is used as a replacement or as a supplement to the manufacturer's climate protection efforts. It is best to pay attention to the environmental and social compatibility of the product when buying a new one and use it as long as possible. Resources and money can also be saved with second-hand goods or residual models.