Q: We finally broke down and invested in a laptop for my child who’s heading off to college. I love him, but he’s not the most careful child on the planet. I’d love to wrap the computer in permanent bubble wrap, but we know that won’t work. Can you help me find a sturdy, preferably eco-friendly, laptop case?

A: As the owner of a laptop that bit the dust after a bit too much jostling in a Chicago airport, I feel your pain. Protecting all that precious data locked away in a somewhat fragile package has become priority No. 1.

Fortunately, there’s no shortage of stylish sleeves, cases and carriers. I’m a big fan of Etsy.com because it’s filled with one-of-a-kind items that are made by up-and-coming artists. Also, homemade products on Etsy have a smaller carbon footprint than mass-manufactured items that collect dust in a warehouse. Here are three green Etsy cases that your son may want to grab when it’s time to get busy.

Caffeinated carrier: Coffee serves as the universal tool to help college kids power through late-night study sessions. I admire the smart cookie who decided to transform burlap coffee bags into chic computer carriers. Consider it an homage to the magical elixir that will help your son power through many late-night study sessions. Three layers of polyester filling keep your kid’s computer safely tucked inside behind Velcro closures.

Sign language: Old billboards live to see another day in the form of shiny, sleek laptop cases filled with three layers of polyester batting nestled between salvaged canvas fabric. Every case is different, and the billboard material has been cut, washed and cleaned by hand. He will have a hard time leaving this striking carrier behind.

Green laptop case: If Junior shares your love of all things green, he may prefer a case made from recycled military cargo pants. The sturdy fabric and reinforced seams will help your kid’s computer weather campus wear and tear with ease.

Beyond the artistic world of Etsy, I found some other cool options that may be worth the investment.

Double duty: I love products that multitask because that’s one less item you need to buy. The Considerable Embarrassment messenger bag from Crumpler combines rugged construction with a built-in padded laptop sleeve. Also, this bag comes with a lifetime guarantee, so your son can do his worst.

Rugged redux: Leave it to REI to create a tough laptop bag that’s made from recycled plastic. The Tech Wrap laptop sleeve lies flat and can easily accommodate laptops up to 17 inches. An internal, letter-size pocket keeps papers neat and tidy.

Suit up: My favorite option was an “upcycled” laptop sleeve made with excess wetsuit material. LooptWorks’ nylon neoprene carriers combine fun and funk in one sleek package.

Get handy: Reward him for all those crazy arts and crafts projects by stitching up a laptop sleeve for your son. Planet Green has cool tips for transforming T-shirts, sweat shirts and placemats into reminders of home. 

In addition to the cool cases I found, you also may want to load your kid down with pocket drives to help back up his work. In a previous column, a college student said extra digital storage space is a must-have. Add a handful to your next care package. As his workload and iTunes library increase, you may want to invest in CD/DVDs or an external hard drive to hold all that additional data. Of course, online storage options like Google Docs provide an even greener approach. How smart is that?

— Morieka Johnson 

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Photos: Etsy, Crumpler, LooptWorks