Sustainability and Eyewear: What Consumers Can Do

Sustainability and Eyewear: What Consumers Can Do

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Posted June 14, 2023

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Today, eyewear companies and brands are investing more and more in sustainability initiatives. Americans have become more aware and conscious of their carbon footprint and, subsequently, are prioritizing sustainability when it comes to their eyewear preferences. Indeed, whilst big brands such as Oakley unveils celebrity endorsements, it is now not enough to just have the backing of big names; the style and substance have to be backed up by another ‘S’ – sustainability.

To meet this demand, eyewear brands increasingly implement sustainable practices, from production to manufacturing. As consumers, some of the marketing around sustainable eyewear may be confusing to keep up with. However, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t still do our due diligence and do our best to make more environmentally friendly choices when buying eyewear.

Below, we’ll discuss some of the things you can do to enhance your sustainability efforts as an eyewear consumer:

Look for eco-friendly materials

The most common sustainability initiative from eyewear brands today is using eco-friendly materials in their products. Most glasses are made from plastic, which is harmful to the environment as it isn’t biodegradable. Aside from their production, when these glasses get broken or you need a replacement, they are often not disposed of properly, ending up in landfills. To counter this, eyewear brands are replacing plastic with more eco-conscious materials. A feature on Hawkers’ eco-friendly sunglasses on Hypebeast highlights the brand’s limited edition capsule collection named H20. The six sunglasses models use sustainable plastic and reuse plastic waste from the oceans. Aside from the actual sunglasses, the packaging also features sustainable and biodegradable materials, such as plastic bottles, recyclable paper, and cartons.

Choose retailers that offer green packaging, materials and projects

Packaging for online shopping can be harmful to the environment. Data from Earth.org states that three billion trees are pulped yearly to produce 241 million tons of shipping cartons. Plastic production for product packaging also contributes to large CO2 emissions. As such, many brands are working to reduce that impact. VSP Vision are at the forefront of this trend –  They use sustainable packaging solutions to reduce climate impact. They’re not alone either – many brands are moving towards sustainable materials not just in packaging but also their products. The luxury sunglass provider Sunglass Hut has a range of curated sunglasses crafted with innovative materials meant to preserve our planet. They use materials such as recycled acetate, recycled nylon, bio-nylon, and bio-acetate, across brands like Emporio Armani and the ZAYN X ARNETTE collection. Indeed, they also support OneSight, a global vision care nonprofit dedicated to bringing sustainable access to quality vision care to people in need.

Shop secondhand or vintage eyewear

Finally, you can buy eyewear more sustainably by choosing secondhand or vintage eyewear. Finding high-quality secondhand eyewear is far more doable now in this age of online marketplaces and buy-and-sells than during pre-Internet times. A feature from Washington Post details this rise of e-commerce and secondhand shopping. US retailers churn out a record $5 trillion worth of new goods annually, leaving a mountain of stuff that gets returned (8%) or sent back (20%). The good news is you don’t have to rely on shady Craigslist or eBay transactions as much anymore. With the rise of e-commerce, dozens of companies are competing to resell goods online to appeal to buyers looking for lower prices, unique and out-of-production models, and sustainability.

Ultimately, the responsibility for buying sustainable eyewear is as much yours as it is a brand’s or company’s. Many eyewear brands today have sustainable lines of eyewear that use eco-friendly materials, and some have shifted towards offering green shipping. This ensures that your eyewear purchase is environmentally conscious from manufacturing to delivery. Of course, don’t forget to do your part at the end of your sustainable eyewear’s lifecycle by ensuring you dispose of them properly.

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