At least 8 million tons of plastic lines our oceans every year, contributing to 80% of all marine debris. Therefore, It’s no surprise that many major high street brands are now turning to sustainable manufacturing methods in order to combat the rise in plastic waste. The glasses industry is no exception and has begun to transform over the past few years to adopt eco-friendly production techniques and new sustainable sourcing practices.
From fishing nets to bamboo and recycled plastics, there are new phenomena hitting the glasses industry every day and transforming the way we make eyewear. Read on to find out more about the hottest zero-waste brands on the high street and why it is more important than ever to shop sustainably.
Why are some glasses not sustainable?
The fashion industry is currently responsible for 8.1% of global greenhouse emissions caused by the toxic gasses released during unsustainable manufacturing processes. For those of us who love high-class plastic spectacles, it may be time to take a step back and look at the damage their production causes and why some of our favourite glasses brands are unsustainable.
During the manufacturing process, the production of the plastic used to mould into our favourite frame styles is reliant heavily on unsustainable fossil hydrocarbons, which are known for being non-renewable. When non-renewable resources are released into the atmosphere they contribute to our carbon footprint which in turn affects global warming.
Unsustainable production doesn’t end there though. The eyewear industry is extremely wasteful, throwing out tons of plastic each year from faulty frames to leftover material. This overproduction of waste leads to dangerous plastics lining our oceans and landfill sites.
If you want to find out how you can reduce your own plastic footprint when purchasing your next pair of glasses, take a look at our selection of our favourite sustainable eyewear brands in the market.
Eco glasses follow a recycle and reuse policy, handcrafting their spectacles with 95% recycled plastic waste.
These environmentally friendly alternatives to high street brands prioritise upcycling to create original and sustainable styles that are lightweight and adjustable to fit any individual.
Coming in a range of colours and styles, the company also produce biobased frames made from 63% organic castor seed oil as a renewable manufacturing material destined to provide both safety and comfort while also nurturing the planet.
Handcrafted from sustainable Moso Bamboo and durable hardwoods, Grown eyewear sunglasses are a fantastic edition to your eco-friendly wardrobe. With a manufacturing process that battles against plastic waste, each pair of glasses is free from harmful toxins and non-recyclable plastics that pollute our oceans. We love this brand’s approach to using organically sourced materials and renewable sources that can continue to be harvested without harm to the environment.
Each pair of specs is unique to you, with an original natural design, fascinating grain patterns and a stunning shape. Better still, Grown continues to fight against animal abuse and testing, using their platform to partner with Australia’s WIRES organisation which specialises in wildlife rescue for endangered species and animals at risk.
As a new company on the scene in the eyeglasses market, Pala has already made its mark on the zero waste high street. Established in 2020, Pala has used its first year as a sustainable brand to create frame styles that are not only completely plant-based and biodegradable but also long-lasting for the user. With styles that are exclusively Italian bio-acetate material, it’s no surprise that they are on the pricey end for a pair of specs. However, if you hear what they are doing with the money, it might be time to invest in some high-class frames and make a difference at the same time.
In partnership with Ghanaian NGO, Care4Baskets, Pala gives back with every pair of sunglasses sold. Using their profit for good, Pala invests in life-saving grants to benefit the startup eye care practices in Africa. Your money goes towards setting up screening rooms that can potentially save a life.
In terms of sustainability, this eco-friendly brand has also hit the nail on the head when it comes to packaging. In using recycled plastic as woven material to create durable cases, no plastic waste goes to spare. This company really are zero waste experts from design to creation.
If you’re a vintage fanatic who likes to wear a pair of glasses with a personality, then Peep could be your saving grace. The UK founded eyeglasses brand prioritises originally when it comes to selecting the perfect pair of spectacles.
Forget fast fashion with this brand, as Peep supports the sustainable fashion movement by sourcing their “stand-out vintage” frames second hand and repurposing them to create original thrifted styles perfect for any occasion. By shopping second hand, customers actively reduce their plastic and carbon footprint and contribute to a more eco-friendly high street.
What’s more, is that Peep strives to keep your favourite pair of specs alive with their restoring second life service. Whether it’s a polish to remove marks or an upcycle to give your frames a second chance, Peep have you covered if you just can’t part with your trusty companions. However, if it’s finally their time, Peep will take your glasses off your hand and recycle them free of charge.
If you’re not already sold, this company goes one step further and has agreed to plant a tree for every pair of spectacles sold. If you want to shop with a purpose to change the world for the better, give a second-hand pair of glasses a new life.
According to Conservation International, 17.6 billion tonnes of plastic litters our oceans each year. In fact, it’s predicted that our plastic waste could overtake the number of living forms in the sea by 2050 if unsustainable manufacturing methods remain the same. If you’re looking to assist the plastic-free ocean movement while also purchasing your new favourite pair of glasses, Waterhaul is the brand that ticks all the boxes. The company based in Cornwall, UK, actively uses its platform to make durable and sustainable spectacles while also fighting to clear the ocean of plastic waste. This revolutionary brand manufactures its glasses frames with 100% recycled fishing nets.
Working alongside local and Iberian fishermen, Waterhaul reduces the need for the disposal of unwanted fishing nets on expensive landfill sites. Offering a free net collection service, nets are less likely to be abandoned in the ocean and their durable composition can be used to manufacture long life glasses rather than long life waste.
With a careful moulding process, Waterhaul creates sunglasses for the ultimate eco-warrior, ironically perfect to wear on your next trip to the beach.
It’s challenging to remove all plastic waste from your daily routine but the constant evolution of the fashion industry is encouraging plastic-free production and upcycling to reduce indisposable waste.
Why not try second-hand shopping for your next pair of spectacles, or investing in sustainably sourced eco-brands for durable eyewear. One small step to reduce your plastic footprint is one big step for a sustainable future.