Featured image: Moby Dick
For a long time, sunglasses were a part of my wardrobe that hadn’t caught up to my sustainable ethos. I invested in a few wooden pairs that broke, and/or just weren’t that cute, and then switched to mid-priced pairs. Not $10, but neither $120 and eco. Conventional sunglasses are my vice.
No more! After spending half the summer turning green with envy at all the utterly cool and creative styles my friends and strangers have been rocking in the city and at festivals, I decided to take another look. And oh my Lord, so many choices! You can now get whatever style you want – aviator, mirrored, cat-eye – in the eco-friendly and ethical version. So don’t be tempted by street vendors. Invest in a pair of these transformative pairs that will elicit coos of admiration from your friends and fans.
What makes sunglasses eco-friendly?
Unfortunately, there’s a ton of greenwashing that goes on with sunglasses. If you do a simple search for “sustainable sunglasses,” you’re going to find a lot of brands using “acetate.” I wondered just how ‘eco-friendly’ this mystery material was, whether or not it was really biodegradable, and what kind of process was used to make it. After some investigating, I wrote a more extensive post about it which you can read here.
The brands below are the ones we’ve identified that are sourcing and manufacturing their acetate in a regulated way that doesn’t harm the planet or the people making the glasses. Other sustainable materials used by these brands include wood, bamboo, and recycled metals and plastics. These brands also prioritize craftsmanship, fair wages, and transparency.
Dick Moby sunglasses are made from recycled and bio-based acetate (made from wood and cotton pulp). Their microfiber cleaning clothes are made from recycled PET plastic bottles and the cases are made from recycled leather.
Investment: $190 USD – $230
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. They also provide awareness and funding to cure vitamin A deficiencies (which causes blindness) in developing nations.
Investment: $255 – $300
Proof stands firm on three principles: heritage, sustainability, and giving back. These sunnies are handcrafted from eco-friendly materials like FSC-certified wood, cotton-based acetate, and repurposed skateboard decks. They have a recycling program so you can send back your sunglasses when you’re finished with them for 50% off a new pair.
Investment: $75 – $130
Finlay & Co frames are handmade out of acetate by eyewear artisans located in the foothills of the Italian Alps.
Investment: $180 – $240
They started with biodegradable phone cases, and have now expanded to sunglasses. Their frames are made from 100% biodegradeable Italian acetate mixed with flax shives (Flaxetate). The lenses are certified bio based with CAT 2/3 UV400 protection. When you’re done with them, you can send them back to Pela, where they will either be cleaned them up and given to someone in need, turned into new products, or composted through their Pela 360 program.
Lowercase sunglasses are handmade in Brooklyn, NY from Mazzucchelli 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. Their focus is on local manufacturing and they try to decrease their environmental footprint wherever possible.
Shwood sunglasses are made from wood which comes from “authorized and supervised plantations across the globe” as well as acetate.
Investment: $150 – $350
Feller Shades are handmade from responsibly-sourced wood from Southeast Asia. For every pair purchase, a tree is planted in a National Forest. Additionally, their cases and shipping materials are made from recycled paper.
Investment: $110 – $120
Topheads uses natural sustainable materials like wood, bamboo, bio-acetate, and recycled skateboards.
Investment: $130 – $160
Stella McCartney sunglasses are made in partnership with Kering Eyewear using bio-acetates, meaning they’re made from natural, renewable materials and are biodegradable.
Investment: $200 – $570
If you’re looking for quality and durability, Gresso’s sunglasses are handcrafted out of titanium and have a 10 year warranty (they say they’re completely unbreakable!). They are designed and manufactured in their own factory in Miami.
Investment: $235 – $255
Sea2See sunnies are handmade in Italy out of recycled ocean plastic.
Investment: $100 – $130
Not all of Sunski’s options are made from eco-friendly materials, but they do have a few pairs made from recycled plastic and they give back 1% of profits to environmental non-profits.
Investment: $55 – $90