Featured image: Woodzee
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Summer is finally here, and we’re ready to put on our bathing suits, pop on a pair of sunglasses, and head over to the beach to soak up some sun.
In the past, we’ve definitely bought cheap, low-quality sunglasses that break after just one season. But now, there are so many brands making ethical and eco-friendly sunglasses — whether you’re looking for aviators or cat eye — that are super cute and affordable too.
So, if you’re looking for a new pair of sustainable sunnies, we’ve rounded up the best brands for you. But first, here’s an overview of what you should look for while you’re shopping for ethically made sustainable sunglasses:
Eco-friendly materials: Go for brands that use sustainable materials for their sunglasses. There’s been a buzz around sunglasses made from acetate, which is plant-based, supposedly biodegradable plastic. We did a deep dive to find out just how sustainable this mystery material was, which you can read here. The brands in this list source and manufacture their acetate in a responsible way that doesn’t harm the planet or the people making the glasses.
Other eco-friendly materials to look out for include FSC-certified wood, bamboo, deadstock materials, and recycled metals and plastics. Some brands even use repurposed skateboards for the frames.
Quality, durability, and timelessness: Opt for sunglasses that are made from good quality, durable materials. Your sunnies should definitely last you more than one season! Choose a pair that you will genuinely love for a long time.
Fair labor: As always, make sure you make sure the brand is following fair labor practices. Go for small artisan brands that provide information about their workers, or look out for labels like Fair Trade and SA8000.
Transparency: Choose brands that prioritize transparency in their supply chains. Do they tell you where and how your sunnies was made? Detailed sustainability reports are a big plus.
Sustainable packaging: Buy from brands that are using either recyclable or biodegradable packaging made from natural or recycled materials. Less is definitely more when it comes to packaging.
Lowercase sunglasses are handmade in Brooklyn, NY from cotton-based acetate, some of which is deadstock. Every pair is expertly crafted by hand by combining modern technology with traditional methods and takes two weeks to make. The brand’s focus is on local manufacturing and it tries to decrease its environmental footprint wherever possible.
Investment: $225 – $350
Article One acetate sunnies are made in family-owned factories in Italy where the craftsmen and women are paid fair wages. You can read about those factories and the manufacturing on their website. The brand doesn’t believe in throwaway culture, so each pair of sunglasses are thoughtfully designed to last you a long time. Investment: $255 – $315
Proof stands firm on two principles: sustainability and giving back. These sunnies are handcrafted from eco-friendly materials like FSC-certified wood, cotton-based acetate, and recycled aluminum. Through its Do Good initiatives, the brand has funded eye clinics in several countries including India, El Salvador, the Philippines, Uganda, Nepal, and Peru.
Investment: $65 – $125
Woodzee’s sunglasses are designed in California and each style is named after a location in the Golden State. The collection is affordable and is made using sustainable materials like cotton and wood-based acetate and recycled skateboards. The brand also has a Recycle Program through which you can send back old or broken Woodzee sunglasses and get 50% off your next pair.
Stella McCartney sunglasses are made in partnership with Kering Eyewear using bio-acetates, meaning they’re made from natural, renewable materials and are at least partially biodegradable.
Investment: $140 – $390
Based in Flint, Michigan, Genusee makes non-prescription and prescription sunglasses out of recycled plastic water bottles. The majority of its supply chain is within a 188-mile radius in Flint, supporting other small businesses and its local economy.
Investment: $99 – $345