Young shoppers are keeping Mother Earth in mind with back-to-school shopping, and so are retailers.
Lego branded backpacks are being made with sustainable materials, tapping into growing back to school demand for eco conscious clothing and products.
(Photo: Lego Bags)
This back-to-school season, it’s cool to be eco-conscious.
With teens, tweens, and their college-aged peers showing a particular interest in products that go easy on the environment, retailers are carrying a growing number of eco-friendly products — from backpacks and blue jeans stitched from fibers made from recycled plastic bottles to shoes constructed from
It’s a good play by retailers eager to grab a chunk of the $83.6 billion that the National Retail Federation’s annual survey is predicting will be spent on back-to-school and back-to-college gear this year.
“Between the consumer . . . and the manufacturer, I think we’re all looking (for)products out there that have a positive impact in our world,’’ says Jennifer Carroll, a general manager at the bag maker Carry Gear Solutions, who oversees a line of Lego Bags back packs and lunch bags made from recycled water bottles.
This season, J.C. Penney is increasing the eco-friendly options that it features on its site and shelves. Teens and younger shoppers will be able to choose among three styles of jeans from the retailer’s signature Arizona brand that are woven with polyester derived from recycled plastic bottles.
“We began incorporating recycled materials into our jeans when we found online shoppers on JCPenney.com were entering search terms such as ‘recycled jeans,’ or ‘sustainable clothing,’ ” says J.C. Penney spokeswoman Sarah Holland, who added that employees have fielded similar queries while working on the sales floor.
Target has also made sustainable fibers a component of one of its most popular brands. The store’s kid-focused
Cat & Jack line uses Repreve polyester, created from post-industrial waste and plastic bottles, in all of its denim bags and some of its t-shirts, pants and tank tops.
Target began offering Cat & Jack styles made with the sustainable material last summer after “we saw focus groups of parents and children express interest in eco-friendly products,’’ says Target spokeswoman Megan Boyd.
Store signs will spotlight Cat & Jack clothing and bags that include the recycled polyester. Those items will also have tags that say “Better for All,’’ “Responsible Style,’’ and give details about the amount of the fabric that includes the sustainable material.
Textiles are becoming more environmentally friendly at a time when the teens and tweens that make up Generation Z — generally considered those born since 2000 — are particularly interested in products that reduce waste, and conserve water, energy and other resources.
Farla Efros, president of the strategic firm HRC Retail Advisory says that her research has found that 85% of Generation Z will choose eco-friendly products over those that are not.
Major brands are getting the message. Carry Gear says that it saw “huge success” this year with its Lego branded lunch bags, backpacks and pencil cases which are made out of recycled water bottles, Carroll says. Based on that popularity, next year the company will use that material to make its entire LEGO Bag line, including wallets and organizers.
Adidas meanwhile says that its shoe line created from recycled ocean plastic is proving popular with younger shoppers.
“Younger consumers today, Millennials especially, are more concerned about how their products are made and where they come from so they are gravitating to products like our popular CC Boat Parley,”
Greg Thomsen, managing director for Adidas Outdoor USA said in an email about the $90 boat shoe. ”
We are seeing strong momentum in sales.”
The NRF says that back-to-school spending is predicted to reach its second-highest level on record this year, and to rise over 10% as compared to 2016.
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