A gray Day Owl backpack sits on top of a white suitcase.


The Eco-Chic Owl Has Taken Flight

By Reese Randall


September 22, 2020

Amid the pandemic, this Pittsburgh-based company has been on to something that champions sustainable adventure indoors and out. The smart and very wise, Day Owl — a bottle-to-backpack accessory brand that gives back actually takes back — first.

Day Owl has taken back oceans that are polluted with plastic bottles through the implementation of Thread International’s First Mile™ (firstmilemade.com) — the innovative sustainability company that empowers and employs local, impoverished citizens in Taiwan, Haiti and Honduras to collect and turn-in plastic bottles within fair working conditions. Each bottle is sorted, cleaned, shredded, turned into yarn, then knitted or woven into fabric. The fabric — or textiles are used to manufacture a variety of products from apparel and footwear, to accessories for major companies such as Aerie, HP, Marmot, PUMA, Ralph Lauren, Reebok, Timberland and of course, Day Owl.

Founder (and Ambridge native), Ian Rosenberger began Thread International in 2011 after traveling to Haiti for the first time. He witnessed the waste and lack of job opportunity the town of Port-au-Prince was exposed to. After many years he and his Thread International team learned how to make fabric out of plastic bottles. In the spring of 2019, Rosenberger officially released Thread International licensing which is now known as First Mile™.


Building a community of brands eager to join his mission to lessen waste, end pollution and empower individuals to earn a substantial wage is the impact he set out to accomplish. Since Day Owl launched at the beginning of 2020, the company offers coordinating cord pouches and face masks to add to its line of backpacks. The face masks are designed with adjustable ear loops and metal nose strips for ultimate comfort and protection. Every face mask has a matching case for storage between each use. Plus, for every mask purchased, a mask is donated to someone in the First Mile™ of the supply chain.

Every backpack Day Owl wrote on its site, “is made out of post-consumer recycled bottles that are destined to end up in a landfill or the ocean. Using these bottles, we designed a first-of-its-kind waxed canvas that’s more durable, weather-resistant, and sustainable than traditional cotton.”

Danny Chambers, Product Strategy Director at Thread International added more insight on the design and sustainability. “We designed the bag for the everyday carry, it’s both useful on the inside and elegant on the outside. The waxed canvas of the bag is made from 100 percent recycled bottles, and that’s just part of our holistic approach to sustainability. We are building Day Owl with the circular economy in mind, so we are thinking not only about where our bags come from, but where they go when they are no longer usable as backpacks.”

Backpacking everyday around town or for an extended excursion, is reason enough for choosing how you navigate your travels. Whether you’ve planned a rustic daytrip to ride the bike trails; or planned a weekend getaway to an urban oasis, making certain your carbon footprint reflects your mammoth devotion to eco awareness is all you need. The eco-chic companion for traveling and the bag that will keep all of your things in tact? The Day Owl.

The durable and weather-resistant backpack is available in small (15.5”x11.5”x5.5”) or large (17.5”x12.5”x5.5”) and retails for $135 each. It fits bottles up to 750ml including, but not limited to water bottles, flasks, canteens and wine bottles. The spill resistant bottle pocket is lined with water repellent neoprene. “The Day Owl has sneaky pockets that give you easy access to essentials like your keys, passport or laptop without unpacking everything inside your bag,” explains Chris Preis, Creative Director at Thread International.

“There's also a luggage strap so your backpack can ride on top of rolling luggage — whenever that's a thing again.”


Reese Randall writes bi-weekly stories for The Green Voice. She's also the contributing restaurant editor for IN Community Magazines and food stylist for GNC. To see more food, fashion, photos and videos, go to reeserandall.com