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Sustainable Eyewear

Updated: Jul 22, 2020

As I’ve ventured further into my journey of sustainability, I’m amazed at how many things we use on a daily basis contribute to waste. Take glasses, for example. I understood that glasses could be wasteful in that when you get a new pair, it’s easier to throw the old pair away than find a way to donate them. But I find that people rarely think about the practices and materials used to create these glasses. That’s why I have taken on the task to research & discover glasses companies that create their products via ethical and sustainable practices!

Sunski is a sunglasses company developed by two close friends, Michael and Tom, who originally set out to create the ultimate salsa bowl. And while they did just that, the hard times still came. In a ‘last ditch survival effort” the two launched a Kickstarter for a sunglasses line inspired by a vintage pair of sunglasses Tom found on a surfing trip in Australia. What sets Sunski apart from other sunglasses companies are their five sustainability initiatives. All of their frames are made from Super Light material; a material created completely by Sunski that are lighter, stronger, sourced locally, and saved from US landfills. No single use plastic is used in any of the packaging Sunski uses to package their frames. They are partnered with 1% for the Planet, and have donated over $150,000 to the non-profit. All of their frames come with a lifetime warranty and the brand is certified carbon neutral!

Pela was created by Jeremy Lang who personally experienced the incredible damage plastic was inflicting on our oceans while on a family vacation in Hawaii. Inspired, Jeremy made it his mission to create products that were sustainable and eco-friendly. Thus the creation of their coveted cell phone cases and sunglasses! All of Pela’s sunglasses have a zero-waste end of life. Their frames are biodegradable and made with plants. Plus, you can easily send them back to Pela when you decide it’s time to retire them. Pela will upcycle your used frames and give them to someone in need, compost them, or make them into completely new products! Want to save some money on your purchase? Use code "Shelbi" for 15% off!

Parafina’s philosophy is rooted in the importance of a quality education. After visiting a rural village in Paraguay, Parafina founders decided to create a company that would help finance education programs with each pair of eyewear sold. Thus the creation of their own scholarship program, #LlévaleAlCole. This program is funded by the donation of 5% of all their sales, and allows children and Paraguay to have access to stable and quality education. In addition, all of Parafina’s eyewear is made from recycled material such as recycled PET water bottles, recycled cork, natural bamboo, and recycled aluminum and rubber. Want to save some money on your purchase? Use code "SHELBI10" for 10% off when you purchase through Earth Hero! Just click the hyperlink on the Parafina title where it'll send you directly to Earth Hero's brand page for Parafina, and add the code to check out!

SOLO is another amazing brand that not only puts so much into their product, but also into their mission to give back. Each pair of SOLO eyewear is made from repurposed bamboo or recycled plastic, effectively helping to eliminate potential single use plastic and decreasing their carbon footprint. They also repurpose the packaging for their materials and recycle defective products for parts. SOLO is partnered with Aravind Eye Care System and Restoring Vision; two organizations committed to preventing disease related blindness and providing reading glasses to those in need, respectively. SOLO donates 10% of their profits through these partnerships and has reached 32 countries. Want to save some money on your purchase? Use code "SHELBI10" for 10% off when you purchase through Earth Hero! Just click the hyperlink on the SOLO title where it'll send you directly to Earth Hero's brand page for SOLO, and add the code to check out!

Eco is another fantastic sustainable eyewear brand! They create both sunglasses, optical glasses, and clip-ons if you want to change your style up! You have the option of choosing either bio-based or recycled frames; of course the styles will vary depending on which option you choose. The recycled frames are made from 95% recycled metal while the bio-based frames are crafted from castor seeds. In addition, with each frame purchased, Eco will plant a tree!

Retrospecced is a UK based brand that creates eco-friendly sunglasses, prescription glasses, and mirrored glasses. They have several series to shop from such as retro and designer frames. If you’re not sure what frame to choose, you can opt to have several “frames only” shipped to your home so that you can test them out. Once you’re ready to commit, send the ones you don’t keep back while they send you the pair with your correct prescription lenses! If the home trial wasn’t sweet enough, 20% of the profits from each sale is donated to Vision Aid Overseas, an organization dedicated to providing eye care across Africa!

Genusee is another sustainable eyewear brand that is really helping to make a difference in the world. All of the brand's eyewear is made in Flint, Michigan from recycled single-use plastic water bottles. With each purchase, 15 single-use plastic water bottles are able to be upcycled, and helps create jobs for citizens of the Flint, Michigan community.

Genusee is partnered with the MADE Institute, an organization dedicated to employing returning citizens and displaced workers in Flint, Michigan. With this partnership, Genusee provides individuals with the on the job skills training and the basic understanding of how to manufacture eyewear. In addition to this partnership, Genusee also donates 1% of its profits to the Community Fund of Greater Flint. This fund helps provide health and development interventions to the children of Flint; all vital to minimizing the effects of lead poisoning in these children.

Monkeyglasses was developed in 2009 with the design philosophy of "look good while doing good". All of their designs are inspired by a Nordic look and many have a super slim material, with only 4mm of thickness. Their glasses are made from biodegradable raw materials such as cotton acetate and recycled paper. Portions of their profits are donated to, an organization committed to helping to bring as many orangutans back into the wild.

Pala is a sustainable eyewear company that gives back to programs in Africa that fund vision centers and screening programs. They are also partnered with Care4Basket, a non-profit based in Bolgatanga, Upper East Africa that employs individuals in deprived communities to make the sustainable cases for Pala's eyewear. Pala's eyewear is developed from recycled acetate and bio-based designs. All of their packaging is recyclable and with carbon offset shipping.


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