6 Things You Can Do with Old Broken Backpacks

Old and broken backpacks seem like they should just be tossed out, but that’s not always the case.

Worn-out backpacks can actually have a few different uses. You may be wondering, what can you do with old, broken backpacks?

Broken-down backpacks can be repaired, recycled, or disposed of. If the backpack is in decent condition, you can donate it to a charity.

If not, you can upcycle or repurpose it for other uses, or give it away.

As you can see, there are a handful of things you can do with an old, broken backpack. We can help explain each idea in detail if you want to know more.

Below, we’ll break down all of your options regarding old, broken backpacks.

What can you do with an old backpack?

Broken Backpack

While it may seem like the only thing you can do is throw out an old, broken bag, there’s plenty you can do.

If you want more information about how to repair, recycle, or donate your backpack, then keep reading.

Below, we’ve compiled a list of things you can do with a broken backpack and detailed instructions.

1. Recycle

Backpacks are made from recyclable materials and can be put into recycling. Most backpacks get tossed into the trash and end up in landfills.

The issue with this is that the materials used could be better.

Landfills contain many recyclable materials that end up getting thrown away. Despite the item being recyclable, it will stay in a dump, taking up space.

Instead, recycling the item would put it to good use, as the materials can be reused to produce other products.

Most backpacks these days are made from a combination of natural and synthetic materials.

Most are made from polyester, nylon, canvas, and leather. Aside from that, other common fabrics used are polypropylene, PVC, and cotton.

synthetic material

2. Donate

If the backpack is still functional, then you may be able to donate it to a charity or store such as the Salvation Army.

Homeless shelters, foster care, and other facilities may be able to fix and use them. Backpacks are durable, so as long as they don’t have holes or huge rips, they should be in decent enough condition to donate.

When donating, make sure that you clean the backpack. Otherwise, the charity may not take it.

Also, make sure to remove any items inside of the backpack as you won’t be able to retrieve the items once you donate them.

Cleaning a backpack requires you to wipe it inside and out. Additionally, you could also put it through the wash.

However, some fabrics are prone to shrinkage or damage. Just be sure to look at the label or find out how to wash the material of your backpack.

3. Upcycle/Repurpose


An old, broken backpack can be upcycled by adding higher-quality materials. Repairing broken pieces and cleaning them up can cause the backpack to look brand new.

If you are good at crafting, then even add your own designs.

If you don’t have a use for the backpack anymore, then don’t worry! You can also repurpose your backpack and turn it into something entirely new.

A backpack is essential and made of canvas, cotton, or nylon fabric.

So, you can use the materials to create bags, clothes, and accessories. You can also use it more practically by turning it into a toolbox, lunch bag, purse, etc.

This gives you a lot of options for what you can use it for.

4. Dispose

If you’re not going to recycle your backpack, you can dispose of it in your trash bin. The downside to this method is that some of the components of the backpack are hard to break down, which will cause the contents to take up space in a landfill.

We only recommend disposing of the backpack if you don’t have any recycling centers nearby.


5. Repair

Repairing an old broken backpack will take a bit of effort if you do it yourself, but it’s well worth it.

Many of us have sentimental connections to our bags, as their use shines in situations like camping, school, and sleepovers.

So, you can either repair the bag yourself or send it in for repairs.

If you’re fixing it yourself, then you will need to get replacement parts that are broken, such as zippers and buttons.

For other repairs, you may need pieces of similar fabric to help patch up areas that may have been torn.

A sewing kit or also iron-on adhesive can come in handy.

Getting a backpack repaired is a little trickier, but in most cases, you can contact someone who fixes bags and purses.

They will have the equipment to restore your bag to its original state. However, they are generally pricey, so we only recommend this method if you want to keep the backpack for sentimental value.

6. Give Away


Suppose the backpack is broken down and you don’t have the resources or time to get rid of it yourself.

In that case, you can always list it online on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. Here, people look for rundown items that they can either fix or repurpose.

So, it’s worth listing it for a small fee or giving it away for free. You’d be surprised by how many people actually want these items.

Frequently Asked Questions: Old Broken Backpacks

How do you upcycle a backpack?

To upcycle a backpack, you will need fabric scraps, buckles, snaps, and sliders. You will also need an Iron-on adhesive or a sewing kit.

Once you have the materials, you will need to clean the backpack, stitch up the holes, and fix any broken areas of the bag.

What can you do with old backpacks?

Below, we’ll list a few ideas of what you can do with an old backpack:

  1. Turn it into fabric scraps
  2. Use it as a table cover
  3. Donate it
  4. Upcycle or refurbish
  5. Repair
  6. Dispose
  7. Recycle
do with old backpacks

Can broken items be recycled?

Yes, any item that doesn’t have food waste, chemicals, or is unsafe to use can be recycled. If you’re unsure, then you can check your local recycling laws.

Otherwise, you can check the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s recycling guide.

How do you make an old backpack look new?

Cleaning your backpack and repairing any broken parts can help an old backpack look new. As long as the bag isn’t made of low-quality materials, you may be able to use additional fabric to fix it.

If it’s a brand-name item, you can generally send it back to the manufacturer for repair or find professionals who specialize in repairing bags.


There is no need to throw away an old backpack as there is so much you can do with it. If you don’t want to waste an opportunity, choosing to donate, refurbish, or repair it can be an excellent alternative.

If anything, recycling is also a better idea than just throwing it away.

That said, if you don’t want to go through the trouble of doing any of the following, someone else might.

 getting rid of old item

Giving away your used or broken items can also be a good way of getting rid of old items. As the saying goes, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.