Sunglasses are especially necessary for this time of the year because strong UV rays damage the light sensitive receptors in the eye. Sunglasses are manufactured so that they can protect these photoreceptors from irreparable damage, without them we are at risk of cataracts and even eye cancer. Basically, we should all be wearing sunglasses a lot more - not just as a fashion accessory!
However, many of us opt for cheap sunglasses due to fast fashion trends. What we do not recognise is the harmful materials used to make our annual purchase of sunglasses which are made of metal, non-biodegradable plastic and paint.
We have found 7 cutting edge brands who are masterminding the extraordinary engineering behind sustainable sunglasses. The following are crafted from upcycled plastic and reclaimed materials, paving the way to a greener future.
Dick Moby is a brand created by a Dutch duo who were horrified at the plastic pollution they were faced with one surfing trip. After a crowdfunding campaign in 2014, the pair began their first collection of sustainable sunglasses created from recycled and biodegradable materials. Using oil-free, bio-based acetate with wood pulp, they claim that their sunglasses will biodegrade if buried in soil for 115 days. Recycling is at the heart of this company: all scraps are used in the production of new glasses and even the packaging is composed of upcycled materials - the microfiber cleaning cloth is made from 7 recycled plastic bottles, and the case from recycled leather.
Moreover, the effortlessly cool frames are fitted with German UV400-certified ZEISS glass, which not many sustainable glasses can currently boast, meaning that the eyes are protected from all dangerous UVA and UVB rays. Such lenses also come with an anti-scratch and anti-reflection layer, for maximum durability. We think these sunglasses are top-notch and definitely worth the cost!
Waterhaul is a social enterprise in Cornwall, excavating plastic from the ocean and reinterpreting it into high-quality sunglasses. The founder, Marine biologist and surfer Harry Dennis, recognised the extensive damage to marine ecosystems caused by “ghost nets” (abandoned and forgotten fishing nets). Dennis calculated that annually 640,000 tonnes of fishing nets are left discarded in our ocean and nearly 50% of this waste is plastic. The nets are also created to withstand the harsh conditions of the sea, resultantly they resist degradation, catching and entangling marine life and damaging reefs. Partnering up with NGOs and local fisherman, they have vowed to remove this dangerous debris from the sea in both Cornwall and across Europe.
Fishing nets are recovered, washed, shredded, formed into pellets and turned into sunglasses frames with premium 100% recycled mineral glass, as opposed to plastic. They even provide a lifetime warranty in order to achieve a 100% recycling rate. Resultantly, they accept breakages, shredding and repurposing them into a new pair, with an incentivised discounts within the 30 day window of purchasing. Really it’s quite hard to imagine how they could be more sustainable!
Handmade in Cornwall, Mosevic eyewear create sunglasses made from recycled denim. Inlaid with brass and turned into a solid material, these sunglasses are helping promote sustainable fashion and we love it!
The Hungarian brand Moonshades is an innovative company creating sunglasses out of their trademark cork composite. The cool brand offers a model suitable for an “extreme” lifestyle - they can float, are flexible, ergonomic and have a lifetime guarantee. Most importantly they are eco-friendly! We think these are perfect for those who want a unique, renewable pair of sunglasses this summer.
To get that retro look opt for Peep Eyewear. The British brand has joined the slow fashion train, restoring old vintage frames to their former glory. What’s more is a tree is planted with every purchase, reducing your carbon footprint without you having to get your hands dirty! Sounds good doesn’t it. The eyewear brand also offers prescription glasses at a starting fee of £39 and have brought back the eye chain, crafted from upcycled vintage chains and beads for that practical but chic flare. Although we recognise the sunglasses themselves aren’t made from sustainable materials, Peep’s effort to extend the life of those already made is still a commendable effort to us!
Celebrating its 15th birthday this year, Vinylize is a trendy company based in Budapest selling high-price point shades to die for. As a response to the consumers increasing desire to move towards a more sustainable way of living, Vinylize has crafted each pair of sunglasses out of upcycled unwanted vinyl records. Though they are not the most eco-friendly or affordable of our selection they are very cool indeed - they’ve even done a collaboration with nespresso using recycled coffee capsules!
7Plis are another high-price point brand based in France. They turn old skateboards into distressed light-weight sunglasses with an edgy feel. We can only imagine the stories these sunglasses could tell!
Basically, what we’ve learnt is that non-sustainable sunglasses just aren’t cool anymore! Wearing sustainable brands is kinder to the environment and your conscience.
Words by: Kiltie De Cleyn