Winter is almost behind us and sunnier days are coming, my friends. It’s time to shed the winter woolies, dig out your lighter clothes, and most importantly, protect your eyes from the harsh summer sun.
But if like me, you’re in the market for some new shades this year, you’d do a lot worse than to shop one of these sustainable sunglass brands for the coolest eyewear that won’t hurt the planet.
Read on to find out why we need to think twice about the sunglass brands we support, and why zero waste sunglasses are paving the way!
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Why Choose Sustainable Eyewear?
Sustainable eyewear is not just a trend anymore; it’s the new normal.
Responsible consumers are increasingly opting for eco sunglasses to reduce their environmental footprint. But even still, most cheap sunglasses end up in landfills a year or so after purchase.
The traditional production process of regular sunglasses involves huge amounts of plastic waste and unsustainable manufacturing processes. And that’s before you consider that the large majority of lenses are made from petroleum-based plastics. They can’t be recycled at end of life, and many brands work on the fast fashion principle.
The production process for sustainable eyewear is far more environmentally friendly than that of regular sunglasses because it uses less energy and water, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
Sustainable, environmentally friendly sunglasses are made from biodegradable materials that can be recycled or composted at end-of-life and don’t contain harmful chemicals as regular sunglasses do. Some companies have started using recycled materials such as reclaimed ocean waste in their manufacturing process too. While others use sustainable materials like hemp and bamboo because they grow quickly and don’t need a lot of pesticides or fertilizers.
What to Look for in Eco-Friendly Sunglasses
When you think of eco-friendly sunglasses, the first thing that comes to mind is recycled materials. But there are many options to consider before buying a pair of eco-friendly sunglasses.
When you’re shopping for a pair of eco-friendly sunglasses, you should look for:
1) Recycled materials in the frame – the frame is made from recycled materials like post-consumer plastic or aluminum cans.
2) Sustainable materials in the lenses and frame – these materials have been certified as sustainable by organizations like Fair Trade or Rainforest Alliance. You can also determine what percentage of the total amount of material used in the production process was sustainable by checking out the product’s packaging.
3) How they’re made – it’s essential to know who makes your glasses and what process they use (beginning from sourcing all the way to product delivery) to ensure the sunglasses are ethically produced.
The best way to find out whether your sunglasses are eco-friendly is to ask the manufacturer. If you can’t find this information on the website or packaging, it might be worth looking deeper into the company’s ethos and sourcing process.
Of course, you also want the standard features of a good pair of sunglasses:
- UV protection
- Solid fit
All of these have a place in making a solid pair of eco-friendly sunglasses. Below we have the best brands of eco-friendly, ethical sunglasses on the market today!
Top Eco-Friendly Eyewear Brands
Buy your next pair of eco sunglasses from one of the following brands and rest easy knowing you’re supporting a sustainable brand with admirable ethics!
1% for the planet member Sunski Sunglasses make fun and earth-friendly frames out of recycled materials.
Made from scrap plastic (from local US landfills), and packaged in plastic-free packaging, these ultra-light eco friendly polarized sunglasses are going to be your new summer favorites!
Sunski is a carbon-neutral company, that stand by the products they make. So much so, that their ethically made sunglasses come with a lifetime warranty!
Panda Sunglasses believes in fashion with a purpose. Apart from building a stylish repertoire of eco-friendly polarized sunglasses, Panda Sunglasses has partnered with nonprofit organizations that work towards helping the Earth and its people.
Panda Sunglasses was created in response to environmental pollution from non-biodegradable materials in the fashion industry. As a result, Panda Sunglasses decided to abandon the traditional manufacturing practices and instead concentrate on creating an environmentally friendly, sustainable brand.
Panda Sunglasses are made of bamboo. Bamboo grows at incredible rates, produces oxygen, and requires no fertilizer to grow. To top it all off, bamboo is biodegradable – and an excellent snack for our panda friends.
Blue Planet Eyewear is a company that makes eco-friendly eyewear look good! They are made from recycled materials, which of course, makes them 100% recyclable. The company has been around since 2009 and has been growing steadily ever since.
Blue Planet has committed to creating and selling products that are good for the environment and the health of everyone who uses them.
By taking excess plastics, metals, and other materials from conventional production at their factory and recycling them in plants worldwide, Blue Planet has created an efficient system to help their business, customers, and environment thrive.
Proof Eyewear has been on a mission since 2010 to create a sustainably sourced wood frame, recycled sunglasses that are both functional and stylish. Proof also has sustainable metal options made from recycled like aluminum & acetate.
Each pair comes with a unique quote engraved on the inner arm of the frame and a small microfiber cloth for cleaning. Also, if your frames break, you can return them to Proof for recycling and, as a thank-you, Proof will send you a coupon for your next purchase.
SeaClean converts plastic bottles into stylish sunglasses that can be customized to fit your prescription lenses.
Each pair of sunglasses takes 5 used plastic bottles out of circulation. The company also gives back – by donating $5 from every sale to The Ocean Cleanup. A non-profit dedicated to ridding the world’s waterways of plastic pollution.
These zero waste sunglasses also come with a sustainable fabric bag, and are packaged in a recyclable cardboard box.
Upcycling used plastic water bottles and transforming them into uber-cool eyewear is what Genusee does best.
This US-based small business creates fair-wage jobs for the local population. And aims to upskill their staff in the process.
They give back to charities, they encourage a circular economy, and they use only sustainable packaging to ship out their glasses. We’d say that’s a company worth supporting!
Zeal Optics is one of the leading companies in the eco-friendly eyewear industry that uses sustainable materials to produce zero waste sunglasses.
Their lenses use castor oil – from the castor bean – as their base material. Their polarized lenses are coated with a material called Ellume – a plant-based polymer.
Zeal Optics uses natural materials like bamboo and sustainable soy-based plastics to produce their ethically made sunglasses, meaning they have a much lighter ecological footprint than those made of petroleum-based materials.
They provide a wide range of designs to choose from, including common styles such as Wayfarers, as well as some more interesting, unique, and modern looks.
Zeal Optics aims to create something that would impact our planet and be a joy to wear. Their mission is to make the world a better place through their products and actions.
Biodegradable eyewear, recycled plastic cases, and beautiful Italian designs come together to create Pala Eyewear’s range of sustainable sunglasses.
They also utilize eco-friendly lenses, offset their shipping emissions, and deliver their sunglasses around the world in recycled mailer envelopes.
But that’s not all. Pala Eyewear gives back by partnering with a Ghanaian-based NGO to make their protective sunglasses cases, and for every pair of sunglasses sold, they donate to Vision Aid Overseas to help those who wouldn’t normally have access to eye care.
Elk, a sustainable brand founded in Melbourne, Australia, is devoted to transparency. They publish details about their goals and regularly update them according to their company’s current status so consumers can make an informed decision about which products to purchase.
Elk releases unique and stylish collections bi-annually. All of Elk’s frames are made from plant-based biodegradable materials that are produced without harming the environment. And, like every other brand on this list, Elk also gives back to the world by working with various humanitarian organizations.
Waterhaul was founded in 2018 by a marine biologist. Waterhaul’s team is dedicated to making a sustainable eyewear brand that recycles abandoned fishing net plastics into sustainable fashion.
Waterhaul is committed to reducing plastic pollution in the ocean. They are working on a new water-based recycling process that can help reduce plastic waste, and they have partnered with local fishermen, NGOs, and community groups to intercept and remove fishing nets from our oceans and beaches.
One of the best ways we can keep sunglasses out of the landfill in the first place is by keeping what we have or buying second-hand.
If you no longer love your sunglasses, consider swapping/trading them for a new pair, or sell them to fund a new pair of eco-friendly sunglasses!
Of course, you could also give away your used sunglasses to those in need too. Try your local charity shop, or ask your local optical store to see if they collect used eyewear.
Each of these brands is committed to the environment’s health and the health of its customers. With the Earth’s population on the rise, it is crucial for us to find solutions to sustain our planet.
This change starts with us and the choices we make every day.