Eco-Friendly Eyewear: Guide to Sustainable Frames and Lenses

Eco-Friendly Eyewear: A Guide to Choosing Sustainable Frames and Lenses

In light of the adverse environmental impact of consumerism and fast fashion, it has become increasingly crucial to transform one’s shopping habits and make more responsible choices. As such, a previous post explains the rise of eco-friendly fashion in terms of sustainable clothing options and environmentally friendly industry standards. The post also guides consumers through eco-friendly fashion practices and trends, such as shopping for pre-loved pieces and knowing which clothing materials are recycled and long-lasting.

Beyond apparel, another segment of the broader fashion industry focusing on sustainability is eyewear. Considering that the eyewear industry contributes to the plastic pollution problem through discarded waste from acetate frames and the use of plastic packaging, brands, and manufacturers are working towards a more sustainable future through more eco-friendly products and practices. Whether you use eyewear for fashion or functionality, here’s a guide to ensuring your frames and lenses are good for the environment.

Pay attention to frame and lens materials

In the same way, you can make more intentional clothing choices through recycled fabrics and check what materials your chosen eyewear is made of. When browsing the online retailer Sunglass Hut, you’ll find that its selection of designer sunglasses brands like Ray-Ban, Arnette, and Burberry have released eco-friendly collections as well as alternatives for their most iconic styles.

For instance, Ray-Ban’s classic Aviator and Wayfarer have versions made of bio-based materials, such as bio-acetate and bio-nylon, to nurture circularity without compromising the style and quality of frames. Meanwhile, street-inspired eyewear brand Arnette also has collections that showcase sustainably sourced, bio-based frames and lenses for greater renewability.

Eco-Friendly Eyewear: Guide to Sustainable Frames and Lenses

Look for supply chain transparency

Sustainability doesn’t begin and end with using recycled and renewable materials for the final product. So, it helps to look for sustainable practices across the entire supply chain, from production and manufacturing to packaging and distribution. Folkal has created a sustainability rating system for the eyewear industry to help consumers make more sustainable choices based on transparency and accountability. 

The system mainly scores individual brands on their products, cases, processes, and transport, giving them a score of GOOD, BETTER, and BEST. One of the companies featured in Folkal’s planet-friendly collection is Safilo, which has been reducing its footprint through decreased water and energy consumption in manufacturing, installation of environmentally friendly lighting in production and distribution facilities, and the use of eco-friendly materials in its frames and packaging.

Consider corporate sustainability efforts

Lastly, it also helps to consider how the eyewear brand or retailer you are eyeing is contributing to industry-wide sustainability through corporate social responsibility (CSR). For instance, the sustainable eyewear brand Project Green partnered with ONE TREE PLANTED to plant a tree for every frame sold.

As of April 2024, the Australian eyewear label supplied by Eyes Right Optical has planted 2,318 more trees as part of the Forest Fire Recovery Project. This commitment to reforestation efforts can effectively help restore the lands and ecosystems ravaged by wildfires. Meanwhile, Local Supply is another Australian eyewear brand worth supporting for its Repair & Recycle program, which takes old sunglasses from customers in exchange for $30 off a new pair.

Beyond considering the aforementioned factors when shopping for eyewear, remember that nothing says sustainability, like taking good care of your eyeglasses or sunglasses so they can last you a long time. Instead of simply ditching your old pair for a new one, consider getting the parts repaired or replaced to further reduce your environmental footprint.