Eye Eye: 5 New Ethical Sunglasses To Love
Whether you're sunning yourself in the back garden or a British beach this summer, you're still going to need sunglasses. Forget the cheap plastic ones that break each summer and invest in some ethical sunglasses.
These are our favourite new brands on the block, all of whom are responsible in their production, sourcing and give back models.
Wed 20 May 2020
With summer around the corner - and lockdown making online shopping that bit more tempting - now is the perfect time for a sunglasses restock. But have you thought about the environmental impact of your humble pair of sunnies?
Why aren't sunglasses eco-friendly?
Conventional sunglasses frames are often made out of plastic. Not only does the production of which release unnecessary CO2 - but it can often result in flimsy products that contribute to a throw-away, fast-fashion culture.
And because sunglasses are made out of a combination of materials including acetate, most are also very hard to recycle and so end up in landfills.
Try and steer clear of brand that promote their acetate frames as being a sustainable option to plastic, because acetate is often created in unreglated industries and uses toxic chemicals and there are scant details of how it breaks down. Some brands will shout about bio-acetate and this is more regulated and less damaging.
But fear not, you can have sunglasses that are eco-friendly, long-lasting and stylish.
Whether you're opting for sustainable frames made from natural/recycled materials or sustainable wood can make a big difference. Bio-acetate, for example (produced from cotton and wood-pulp fibers), is 100% biodegradable, recyclable and highly durable. It will break down, just not in your back garden.
Also, due to the small pieces of plastic needed to produce a pair of sunglasses, they are actually a pretty good use for smaller scraps of recycled materials.
Last month, Bird Eyewear, became the first UK eyewear company to become a certified B Corp. Their stylish sustainable sunglasses are made from high quality sustainable materials, including FSC certified wood, bio-based acetate and repurposed aerospace aluminium.
More uniquely, for every pair sold they distribute solar light to remote countries in Africa through their Share Your Sun partnership with SolarAid.
They even have their own recycle programme - if you have a broken pair of Bird shades, you can send them back to recycle and get 50% off your next pair!
Spektrum is a Swedish mountain sports brand producing ski goggles and sunglasses with plant-based bio material and recyclable materials. The frames are made from non-food corn derivatives and the frame details from castor bean derivatives. Impressive, right?
To add colour to their sunnies, a dying process modifies these derivatives into polymers to become pellets that are then injected with colour. This unique process makes their products more durable AND prevents both employees and the environment from being exposed to hazardous solvents and chemicals.
SOLO Eyewear provides eco-friendly sunglasses made with repurposed bamboo and recycled plastic - this reduces their carbon footprint and prevents the use of virgin materials.
Most impressively, with each purchase SOLO restores vision for a person in need by donating 10% of their profits. To date they have restored vision for over 15,000 people across 32 different countries through the funding of eye exams, eyeglasses and cataract surgeries.
They also source their cases and cords from a group of female artisans in Guatemala, exposing their products to global markets to help lift them out of poverty.
4. Old Youth
Old Youth is a UK business specialising in handcrafted and sustainably sourced polarised wooden sunglasses. Their products are hand designed and unique - so no two pairs will be the same.
With every order, they plant 10 fruit trees in the third world - this process absorbs CO2 in the atmosphere (they’ve managed 300 tonnes since 2014) AND provides food and industry to reduce further deforestation. You don’t have to feel bad about deliveries either - all packaging sent out with orders is fully recyclable.
Cornish sunglasses brand Mosevic take the humble glasses frame to new upcycled levels, as their ethical sunnies are made from denim waste. The fabric waste is compressed until it forms a solid base, much like a carbon fibre. It has taken eight years to get right but now Mosevic offer retro styled, denim based sunglasses that are hand finished in Cornwall. What a brilliant example of the circular economy.