As the summer approaches, sunglasses have become a must-have accessory for fashion aficionados. However, the growing concern for our planet’s health has shifted consumer preferences towards sustainable alternatives. These eco-friendly eyewear options not only provide the necessary protection from the sun but also contribute positively to the environment. The choice of sustainable sunglasses encompasses various factors including the materials used, ethical production processes, and brands’ commitment to sustainability. So, let’s dive into the world of sustainable eyewear and learn how to pick the perfect pair for you.
Before we jump into how to select the right pair of sustainable sunglasses, it’s crucial to understand why this shift towards sustainable eyewear is so important. The traditional eyewear industry heavily relies on non-renewable resources like plastic and acetate for manufacturing frames and lenses. These materials, while cheap and easy to mold, are non-biodegradable, contributing to the growing problem of plastic waste.
Switching to sustainable sunglasses means choosing eyewear made from recycled materials or renewable resources. This small step can significantly reduce the environmental impact of your fashion choices. Moreover, many eco-friendly brands are also committed to ethical practices that respect the rights and wellbeing of their workers, adding another layer of conscious consumption to your purchase.
The first step in choosing the right sustainable sunglasses is understanding the materials used. The materials should be both eco-friendly and durable enough to withstand everyday use. Below are the most common types of sustainable materials used in eyewear production:
Wood: Wood frames have been gaining popularity for their unique and natural aesthetics. From bamboo to walnut, different types of wood offer different textures and colors, providing plenty of options to choose from.
Recycled Plastic: Some brands are turning the tide on plastic waste by using recycled plastic for their frames. Not only does this reduce the need for new plastic production, but it also helps clean up existing plastic waste.
Acetate: Unlike regular plastic, acetate is derived from renewable sources like wood pulp and cotton, making it a more sustainable alternative. It’s also more durable and flexible, providing a comfortable fit.
Bio-Based Plastic: Bio-based plastics are made from renewable biomass sources like vegetable fats and oils, corn starch, or microbiota. They offer the same versatility as regular plastic but with a smaller environmental footprint.
When choosing your pair of sunglasses, look for brands that clearly list the materials used in their product descriptions. This transparency is a good indicator of their commitment to sustainability.
After the materials, the next thing to consider is the brand’s ethical production practices. Ethical production ensures that workers involved in the manufacturing process are treated fairly and work in safe conditions. It also often involves minimizing environmental impact by reducing waste and energy consumption.
When assessing a brand’s ethical practices, look for information about their labor policies, production process, and any certifications they may hold. Brands that are open about their production processes and actively promote fair trade and labor practices are typically more ethical.
Knowing the right brands is half the battle when looking for sustainable sunglasses. Here are some of the best brands leading the way in sustainable eyewear:
Panda: Panda offers sunglasses with frames made from sustainably harvested bamboo. For every pair sold, they also contribute to efforts to provide eye exams and glasses to people in need.
Sea2See: Sea2See collects plastic waste from the sea to produce stylish and sustainable glasses. They are fully transparent about their production process and are committed to cleaning up our oceans.
Dick Moby: Using recycled or bio-based acetate, Dick Moby produces high-quality sunglasses with a lower environmental impact. They also use eco-friendly dyes and encourage customers to return their glasses for recycling when they’re no longer needed.
Woodzee: Woodzee’s glasses, made from a variety of reclaimed woods, are as stylish as they are sustainable. They also offer a recycling program, where customers can return their old Woodzee glasses for a discount on their next pair.
Choosing the right pair of sustainable sunglasses is just the beginning. Proper care and maintenance can further extend the life of your eyewear, reducing the need for replacements and therefore minimizing waste.
Most sustainable sunglasses can be cleaned with a soft cloth and mild soap. Avoid using harsh chemicals that could damage the frames or lenses. When not in use, store your sunglasses in a case to protect them from damage.
For wood frames, occasional treatment with a bit of natural oil (like linseed or walnut oil) can help keep them in good condition. Recycled plastic and acetate frames can typically be gently wiped clean with a damp cloth.
Remember, the longer your sunglasses last, the more sustainable they become. By choosing sustainable materials, supporting ethical brands, and taking good care of your sunglasses, you’re making a fashion statement that not only looks good but also does good.
A brand’s commitment to sustainability extends beyond just the materials used and ethical production practices. The supply chain, from the raw materials sourcing to the final product delivery, should also be eco-friendly in nature to truly consider a brand sustainable.
The supply chain involves multiple steps: sourcing of raw materials, production, packaging, transport, and finally, disposal or recycling of the product. For instance, a brand could use recycled plastic to make their sunglasses frames, but if they pack it in non-recyclable plastic or ship it halfway around the world, the carbon footprint of the product increases drastically.
Thus, when picking your pair of sustainable sunglasses, it’s crucial to examine the brand’s supply chain practices. Look for brands that source materials locally, use minimal packaging, and offset their carbon emissions. Brands like Warby Parker and Proof Eyewear are known for their eco-conscious supply chain practices.
Companies that employ a circular economy model, wherein products are designed to be returned and recycled at the end of their life, are also a great option. This not only reduces waste but also ensures that resources are reused, further diminishing the product’s environmental impact.
While the sustainability of frames is often the main focus, the importance of lenses shouldn’t be overlooked. High-quality lenses ensure that your sunglasses can withstand the test of time and don’t need to be replaced frequently, contributing to their sustainability.
In the context of sustainable sunglasses, there are two crucial aspects to consider — the material used to make the lenses and the actual quality of vision they provide.
Many sustainable sunglasses brands use lenses made from plant-based or recycled materials. Some even offer lenses made from recycled ocean plastic, further contributing to the clean-up of our oceans.
In terms of vision quality, look for sunglasses that offer 100% UV protection and polarized lenses. The latter can reduce glare and provide a clearer view, particularly important for activities such as driving or water sports. Brands like Sea2See and Dick Moby offer high-quality, polarized lenses in their sustainable sunglasses range.
Moreover, some brands also offer lenses that filter out blue light, which can be harmful to the eyes over time. This feature is especially important if you spend a lot of time outdoors or in front of screens.
To conclude, choosing the right sustainable sunglasses involves more than just picking a stylish pair. It requires careful consideration of various factors, from the materials used and ethical production practices to the brand’s supply chain practices and the quality of lenses. Brands like Warby Parker,* Proof Eyewear*, Panda, Sea2See, and Dick Moby are leading the way in offering eco-friendly eyewear options.
By making the switch to sustainable sunglasses, you are not only protecting your eyes but also contributing positively to the environment. Plus, with the wide variety of stylish options available, you can make a fashion statement that aligns with your values. So, as summer approaches, make the sun-smart, eco-friendly choice — choose sustainable sunglasses.