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Exploring Eco-Friendly Eyewear: Sustainable Brands and Practices



With Earth Day upon us, it's the perfect time to shine a spotlight on the eyewear industry's commitment to sustainability and environmental responsibility.




(Watch the video above, or continue reading below)



Today, we're diving into some of the most eco-conscious eyewear brands out there and highlighting the steps they're taking to protect our planet.

But before we dive into exploring eco-friendly eyewear, sustainable brands and practices, let's first address why there's a pressing need for accountability within the eyewear industry.


Eyeglasses are considered a necessity, but have unfortunately fallen into the fast-fashion trap of the fashion industry.

Fast fashion is a phenomenon we have seen over the last 30 years. This trend floods the market with mass-produced frames, often manufactured using unsustainable practices that not only harm our planet, jeopardize workers, impact animal life,  but also strains consumers' wallets as they are forced into a cycle of frequent purchases and disposals. 


As consumers, we can embrace ethical and sustainable solutions to reduce plastic waste and promote longevity by making informed choices.


So, how can you spot a fast fashion brand? Look for telltale signs such as thousands of styles, cheap low-quality materials, and off-shore manufacturing in locations where labor is cheapest. While not all off-shore manufacturing is unethical, it's important to be discerning.


The eyewear industry's best-known manufacturing hubs for quality and sustainability include Japan, Italy, France, Spain, and Germany. While the industry is slowly evolving towards sustainability, it takes time to shift such a massive ship and eyewear brands that are embracing a more sustainable culture are coming up with new and innovative ways to do their part.



Another promising trend in eliminating fast fashion and promoting sustainability is 3D technology. Printing eyewear on demand reduces the need for excessive inventory and resources, offering customization options for consumers. However, the quality of materials and the environmental impact of this technology is still relatively new for me to form a final opinion on, but it is exciting!


As we strive for a more ethical and sustainable future in the eyewear industry, let's keep these considerations in mind.


Exploring Sustainable Brands


Now, let's explore some of the eco-friendly brands leading the charge in environmental responsibility.

 

This is not a definitive list as the concept of eyewear brands being sustainable or eco-conscious has become the expectation, meaning that it is now easier to find brands that are incorporating sustainable practices into their designs, be it with material, manufacturing practices or shipping. So I am just going to highlight a few brands and organizations today.






Blackfin's dedication to sustainability goes beyond just their eyewear – it's ingrained in their entire operation…literally!Their headquarters in Italy, known as the Black Shelter, is a true marvel of green architecture. From plastic-free facades to recyclable aluminum, every aspect of the building reflects their commitment to environmental awareness.


But it doesn't stop there. Blackfin generates electricity with their power plant that is produced from responsibly sourced energy, that recovers heat from natural waste materials. 





Also based in Italy, Feb31st's manufacturing facility is a testament to their commitment to sustainability. By producing only made-to-order goods, Feb31st eliminates the need for excess inventory, minimizing waste and conserving resources.


But what sets Feb31st apart is their dedication to giving back to the environment. By salvaging storm-damaged trees, they're able to transform them into beautiful, one-of-a-kind eyewear frames. It's a perfect example of turning adversity into opportunity, ensuring that every frame tells a story of resilience and renewal.




Founded in 2009, Eco was the trailblazer in sustainable eyewear. With their One Tree program, they've planted over 3.6 million trees and become one of the first carbon-negative brands in the world. But their commitment to the environment doesn't stop there.


Eco has also partnered with Waves of Change to tackle ocean plastic pollution head-on. By collecting 60 tons of plastic from our oceans, they're turning waste into stylish eyewear, proving that sustainability and fashion can go hand in hand.



While Laibach & York may not be explicitly marketed as an eco-friendly brand, their focus on quality and durability aligns with sustainability principles by promoting longevity in eyewear, reducing the need for frequent replacements and disposals. Additionally, the brand's emphasis on craftsmanship suggests a dedication to creating eyewear that stands the test of time, contributing to a more sustainable approach to fashion consumption.


Laibach & York not only excels in crafting luxurious eyewear but also demonstrates a commitment to sustainability by utilizing scrap materials creatively. The brand repurposes these materials to craft unique accessories such as earrings and business card holders, effectively minimizing waste and adding value to their production process. 



Crafted from natural cotton-based acetate and sourced from Italy, France, and Germany, David Green frames not only employs sustainable manufacturing processes, such as recycling all factory water, making sure their packaging is made from recyclable material and using flat pack eyewear cases to cut down on their shipping carbon footprint, BUT they also celebrate nature by embedding real foraged leaves, reeds, mother of pearl and wood within their acetate. It's just another example of their dedication to sustainability and celebration of our planet and nature.



Exploring Sustainable Practices


But sustainability doesn't end with choosing eco-friendly eyewear. We can also make a difference by avoiding glasses from ending up in landfills. That's where frame rehabilitation comes in.








Frames that have formed a whitish film (oxidization) on them can be re-polished, like new.












If you want a change of colour, acetate frames can be re-tinted to give your old frames a new lease on life.  














Broken frames don’t always mean they are a lost cause. Stabilizing bars and chemical fusions can repair broken frames.












For frames that don't sit perfectly on the bridge part of your nose, bridge modifications such as acetate build-ups or titanium nose pad implants can be used.










There are plenty of ways to give quality frames a new lease on life, but if you're ready to part ways with your old glasses, don't toss them in the trash just yet.









Organizations like Lions Club accept eyeglass donations, ensuring they find new homes in communities in need.  If you don’t have a local Lions Club chapter, you can also mail glasses to them.





And for glasses that aren't suitable for donation, companies like Terracycle offer a Zero-waste Eyewear Box recycling program that turns old frames into new possibilities.








I hope you've enjoyed this blog and got a glimpse into how the eyewear industry is stepping up to the plate and taking accountability for our planet. Until next time, keep rockin' those specs!



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