When it comes to accessories, you might not think that there are a lot of green options on the market. It’s not like clothing, which now comes in a wide variety of organic fabrics and designer labels, or cars, which can be purchased with a selection of hybrid, electric, or alternative-fuel engines. Even your home can be built with environmentally-friendly materials and processes. But when it comes to your eyewear, you may be stymied by the apparent lack of eco-friendly choices. However, there are several eyewear companies that are starting to green up the works, as well as ways that you can practice the environmentally sound principles by which you live your life, eyewear included. Here are just a few steps you can take to make sure your eyewear is as green as possible.
- Second-hand. Call them used, call them retro, call them recycled, call them whatever you like. The truth is that by opting to purchase second-hand glasses you are cutting down significantly on the amount of waste required to create your eyewear. Of course, you’ll probably have to have lenses made, but that’s only about half of the manufacturing involved with the creation of a pair of glasses, so you’ve actually cut your carbon footprint (or retinal scan) in half.
- Contacts. Less material means less waste. Of course, this doesn’t necessarily apply if you use disposable contacts, but if you wash and wear the same ones on a daily basis, you can do so with the knowledge that a lot less pollution and waste material was created just so you could enjoy 20/20 vision. You can even make your own saline solution with distilled water (look for packaging that advertises sterile water or specifically says it can be used for contact lenses), salt, and a sterile container. As you may have guessed, sterility of equipment and materials is important for your safety. If you want to stick to supermarket saline solution, just buy a bigger bottle to create less waste.
- Lenses. You might be surprised by the advances that have been made in the arena of eco-friendly lenses. There are actually several companies taking steps to reduce waste. Teklite is a company that offers lighter, thinner, scratch-resistant lenses (that last longer) and they recycle more than 90% of their waste for car and toy plastics. In addition, their packaging in 100% recycled materials. And the Airwear lenses created by Essilor make all the same claims.
- Frames. Many companies are either creating all eco-friendly frames with recycled materials such as reclaimed plastic, hardwood, and metal, or they’ve started offering green lines of eyewear for those who are seeking it. Check out companies like Link Skin, iWood Design, and Cazal for beautiful frames with less environmental impact.
- Offsetting. Even businesses that are unwilling or unable to significantly green up their operations are still in the market to reduce their carbon footprint, and this is where offsetting comes in. Some, like Essilor, conserve energy and water. Cazal uses reclaimed water and biomass heating. And others donate to eco-friendly causes; Nouveau Eyewear contracts with American Forest to plant a tree for every pair of glasses purchased from their Global Releaf collection. In short, they are finding ways to go green despite their less-than-environmentally-friendly practices. And that attitude should be supported.