Accessories like sunglasses are typically made from plastic. Looking to move away from virgin plastic? Here’s what to look for when shopping for sustainable eyewear.
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As part of the fight against the climate crisis, many of us are changing how we purchase goods and services. A report by the Economist Intelligence Unit, commissioned by the World Wildlife Fund, shows a 71% increase in online searches for sustainable goods globally over the last five years. Furthermore, a survey from McKinsey & Co. found that 66% of all respondents consider sustainability when purchasing.
With more customers looking for brands that align with our values and environmental priorities, businesses must do their part to establish sustainable solutions. One key industry that is adjusting its environmental impact is fashion, with this conversation also extending to accessories like sunglasses and glasses. Fortunately, many companies are taking action to establish and express sustainable values. If you’re looking to support companies that are working towards a circular economy and safeguarding the environment, here are some features you should look for when choosing sustainable eyewear:
One of the key things you should be mindful of when buying new glasses is the frame material. Generally, frames are made from plastic. While durable, these are not environmentally friendly and are often tossed out once a part of the frame cracks or breaks. To offset the environmental impact of virgin plastic materials, some companies are using recycled plastic. Online eyewear retail Zenni, released their sustainable eyewear line ReMakes™ as an effort to collect post-consumer plastic and repurpose it to produce high-quality, stylish frames. Approximately three plastic water bottles are recycled to make one pair of glasses.
Other companies are swapping out petroleum-based plastic for bio-based or plant-based materials. The adoption of cellulose acetate has become a popular choice for brands such as Burberry since it has similar properties to plastics. Early this year, the brand was among the first to be analyzed by the sustainability rating company Standard Ethics and was assigned the Corporate Standard Ethics Rating (SER) “EE” (strong). There are plenty of Burberry sunglasses for women made with sustainable and renewable materials. The new Birch Brown bio-acetate frame is made with at least 51% bio-based carbon content.
Other brands take a step further by using traditionally sustainable and recyclable materials, such as wood and metal. German brand Hoffman takes a unique approach by using ethically sourced horns to produce frames— allowing users to cut down on plastic waste.
Sustainable manufacturing process
In addition to materials, consumers should look for businesses that value a sustainable manufacturing process. This can come in different forms, including:
· Using renewable, plant-based, natural, or recycled materials
· Reducing air pollution and waste
· Using renewable energy
· Becoming carbon-neutral To help in your assessment, you can also check businesses for ethical and environmental certifications.
Companies may also be part of groups dedicated to protecting workers’ rights, such as the Ethical Trading Initiative, or an organization that aims to address damaging environmental practices, like the Sustainable Apparel Coalition. One such example is the eyewear manufacturer Silhouette, the only European eyewear company with an EMAS (the Eco-Management and Audit Scheme of the European Commission) certification on environment management. Since September 2022, the brand has worked towards carbon neutrality by cutting more than half of its initial carbon emissions through offsetting techniques and green electricity and solar energy. They also continue to work with the non-profit organization Gold Standard Foundation to expand offsetting initiatives through giving renewable energy sources to needy communities.
Choosing sustainable eyewear can be tricky, as there are more choices for less environmentally-friendly options. However, it’s not impossible to find sustainable businesses. Not only look fashionable with your new eyepiece, but you can also support companies that align with your values. If you have more questions on shopping sustainably, visit our Sustainable Brands section for articles dedicated to the wellness and eco-friendly scene.