Eco-Friendly Shades: Protecting Both Your Eyes and the Earth

As the summer months finally start to roll around, the bright beams of the sun have many individuals reaching for their sunglasses. Currently, due to the wide selection of shades on the market, sunglasses have become viewed as a way of making a fashion statement; endless combinations of colors and shapes create a diverse sunglass market. This season, instead of investing in a pair of shades made from one-time-use plastics, consider purchasing a pair of eco-friendly sunglasses. Available in a wide selection of styles, these sunglasses are constructed from recycled or biodegradable materials, and some of these styles of green shades do more than just protect eyes — they also harness the power of the sun. Below are a few stellar (pun intended!) options for eco-friendly sunglasses.

1. Wooden Frames

Perhaps the most common option for eco-friendly sunglasses, wooden frames made from either recycled or sustainably-sourced wood provide an excellent alterative to the traditional plastic frames. Such wood-based frames can be purchased through brands like Proof, Shywood, Kayu, and iWood. And as if saving the earth and consumers’ eyes isn’t enough, several of these brands ensure that their sale of shades does more than that. More specifically, Kayu donates $50 from every purchase of sunglasses to an organization dedicated to providing corrective eye surgeries for individuals in developing countries. Proof donates a pair of eyeglasses for every set of shades sold; additionally, Proof also is involved in planting trees in Haiti. The price of sunglasses with wooden frames varies, depending upon the specific brand.

2. Recycled Goods

Falling under the third concept of the “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” motto, sunglasses made from recycled plastics (and other materials) are also considered eco-friendly. Shywood and HUF have collaborated to make such sunglasses from recycled broken skateboards while Urban Spectacles has brilliantly designed a pair of retro-looking shades made from recycled beer bottles. At the same time, Shywood has also teamed up with Bushmills to create a pair of sunglasses made from recycled wooden whiskey barrels. Between the beer bottles and the whiskey barrel designs, environmentally-friendly consumers can definitely choose to embrace a whole new meaning of “Drinking in the sunshine.”

3. A Hairy Matter

Arguably the most unique idea in green sunglass materials has been presented by two students at the Royal College of Arts. Made from a creative combination of human hair clippings and bioresin, these sunglasses are completely biodegradable. Since they are not currently backed by a large scale company, the pricing information for “Studio Swine Human Hair Sunglasses” is only available upon request.

4. Solar Power

Unlike the other sunglasses that just focus on protecting eyes, these glasses also work to harness the power of the sun. Made with dye-sensitized solar cells and a power jack at the end of the glasses’ frame, these handy shades can be used to provide power to your favorite mp3 player in addition to protecting your eyes from harmful UV rays.

5. Green Plastics

Finally, eco-friendly sunglasses can also be considered to be any sunglasses made from plant-based plastics. For example, fashion giant Juicy Couture recently placed its “Choose Green” shades on the market; all of these glasses are made with 55% renewable plant-based plastics, as well as bamboo accents.

When making your sunglass purchases for this new summer season, remember to look for green alternatives like the ones mentioned above. Although such shades might be higher in price than traditionally-constructed sunglasses, the long-term benefits of these shades arguably justify this price difference.

About the Author

Author Sara Roberts has a background in health and technical writing, and is a content contributor for Just Eyewear, an online retailer of prescription glasses and sunglasses. Visit Just Eyewear on Facebook.