It's National Sunglasses Day. Makes sense that it would fall right after the official start of summer! It reminded me to continue my hunt for a new pair of sunglasses that I've been on for the last month since my favorite pair had an unfortunate meeting with the bottom of my shoe. In the past, I've unconsciously grabbed cheap pairs from almost any store without giving where they were made, who made them, or what they were made out of a second thought. But even sunglasses can be a choice with impact!
You can choose:
- Sunglasses made from sustainable materials. This will have varying levels: everything from reclaimed, recycled materials, to sustainably harvested materials such as bamboo and wood, or special plastics that have less of an environmental impact when they are manufactured.
- Sunglasses that help support a cause such as vision programs in Africa or planting trees to offset carbon in production and shipping.
- Sunglasses made by a company consciously using sustainable manufacturing and shipping practices. For example 100% recycled shipping materials or solar power for its manufacturing plants.
- You can also choose to forgo buying anything new at all and look for sunglasses at secondhand shops or estate sales. Honestly, I've spent the last two weeks doing this, but nothing has turned up yet. Technically, for the lowest sustainable impact, this is your best option.
I still haven't made a final decision myself, but below are the companies I've found in my searches, along with some companies that you all recommended when I asked in an Instagram post! You all are the best. Your suggestions made my day, and made the hunt a little harder (in a good way!) and more exciting because I was encouraged by how many companies really are tackling sunglasses the right way!
When you buy a pair of PALA sunglasses, proceeds go toward grants awarded to eye care projects in Africa, funding the creation of vision centers and dispensaries, which provide new glasses to those who need them. One patient for every pair of sunglasses sold.
They come with a soft microfiber bag and semi-hard woven case woven by traditional weavers in one of three rural communities in Bolgatanga, Upper East Ghana. Plastic bags, used water sachets, or recycled plastic waste are given new life before heading to the landfill.
Note: Does not offer a polarized option at this time, only a 100% UVA/UVB protection lenses).
When you buy a pair of this wooden sunglasses, a portion of the profits goes to the National Forest Foundation to plant at least 1 tree in our National Forests. The NFF ensures that all trees are professionally planted, native and locally sourced, and cared for by the U.S. Forest Service.
The fun twist? Each style of sunglasses is named after a National Forest and when you scroll down, you'll see a photo and fun facts about that specific National Forest!
3. LOCH EFFECTS (A Kickstarter I'm Cheering For!)
Check out @LochEffects. Two friends not only wanted to create a sustainable wooden pair of glasses, but they wanted to do it without cutting down a single tree. Tall order (pun intended ; ) but they've found a way to do that by dredging up 500-year-old timber from the bottom of the Canadian Great Lakes. Cool, right? The wood actually gets stronger as it sits at the bottom of the lake. Check out the Kickstarter!
This company, suggested by @yvonnecoe, offers several options that are different levels of sustainablity, which means if you just can't get excited about the look of wooden sunglasses, you can still make a choice with some impact! Woodroze offers wood and denim options, along with polyamide option, called Grilamid TR 90, that is more sustainable that standard sunglasses' materials, as well as a hybrid option where the glasses are made of both wood and Grilamid! It's the "more sustainable" option if you just can't do wood.
Grilamid TR 90, made in the United States, has very high flexural fatigue strength (fancy language for it doesn't break easily) and uses less energy to produce & cure than other polyamides.
Shady Tree Shades was founded by two college students/brothers in 2015 to reduce waste in sunglasses, accessories, and apparel. Clicking on any product shows you a description of the materials used.
Products are shipped using only 100% recycled/reused packaging.
Shady Tree is partnered with Trees for the Future an organization that plants 5 trees for every pair of sunglasses sell! Trees are planted in impoverished, African communities that rely solely on agriculture.
6. GAIA GUY
Gaia Guy bamboo sunglasses are a natural good that is recyclable, biodegradable, non-toxic, hypoallergenic! The glasses also have UV400 polarized lenses able to block UVA and UVB light rays as small as 400 nanometers.
Bonus: Each pair of sunglasses comes with organic cotton pouch inside a bamboo sunglasses case
@jj_moves suggested this brand and I'm so glad she did! In'Bô is a French company founded by five friends and colleagues with a common goal: bring up to date wood working into outdoor sports. Their wood glasses are super stylish (to me ; ) The lenses come in anti-reflection, standard, and polarized versions.
Bonus: Um, these guys are talented enough to offer wooden bikes and skateboards. Yup, you read that right!
Kynd Clothing was founded in 2012 with the idea that humankind can and should live a sustainable lifestyle.
All its bamboo sunglasses are custom-designed and hand-crafted from sustainably raised bamboo. Each pair of bamboo sunglasses features REVO polarized UV400 lenses. The sunglasses are so lightweight that they float in water, according to the company.
I also love that 10% of profits from each purchase is set aside for sustainable land conservation efforts.
Fun fact: If your pair of bamboo sunglasses gets messed up or broken by some random act of nature, or if you just want to try something different, then send your old pair back and Kynd will give you 50% off your next pair and do its best to put the old pair to good use.
Woodwear uses 100% bamboo in its sunglasses. Bamboo regenerates at least 8 times faster than hardwood, and harvesting does not kill the plant. It matures rapidly, making it a very sustainable option.
You'll find all bamboo options and a few hybrid options made of wood and PVC (shown below).
Do you have a favorite ethical, sustainable sunglasses company not shown that you love? I would absolutely love to hear about it! Please add to the list in the comments below.
Heather Young, Co-Founder, SHE Changes Everything