Whether it’s pre-loved or vintage, wood or recycled sunglasses you’re looking for there are so many options for sunglasses now. And fear not, not only are the brands listed here more sustainable than their highstreet offerings they’re more stylish to boot (yes I’m biased). Here is where to buy ethical sunglasses in Ireland, the UK and Europe.
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Tips when buying sunglasses
When buying glasses ensure that the lenses that are UV400 or above. These will block 99.9% of UVA rays and UVB rays. If you wear dark glasses that don’t block UVA or UVB rays then you’ll be damaging your eyes more than if you weren’t sunglasses at all. This is because dark glasses cause your pupils to dilate, exposing them to more UVA and UVB rays unless the lenses block them. Additionally polarised lenses can decrease the amount of glare, which can dazzle and strain your vision.
Also make sure that the glasses fit you well and cover your eye sufficiently. Wrap around glasses give the greatest protection. If you think there is light seeping around your glasses then consider the added protection of a hat.
Picking Your Eco Sunglasses
The eco-friendliness of acetate frames
Before we delve into sustainable sunglasses options I want to talk about acetate. You may notice quite a few brands claiming to be sustainable by using acetate frames to make their sunglasses. In theory this material is recyclable and might be biodegradable, but without proper testing or infrastructure for both waste streams it’s really just a pipe dream. You can read more on the eco-friendliness of acetate in this article by fashion blogger Ecocult.
Reused Sunglass Frames
If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a thousand times reusing materials is (nearly always) the most sustainable option so I’m putting Irish company Buy New Specs at the top of this list because they’ll fit new lenses to existing frames!
A UK company in this space is Retrospecced. They offer recycled and refurbished retro and designer pre-loved spectacle frames. They can also provide prescription lenses if needed and will donate 20% of the profits from all frames sold directly to Vision Aid Overseas on your behalf.
Brands of Wood Sunglasses
I love the look of wood sunglasses and am the proud owner of a pair of a pair from Kildare based Raw Roots.
Another Irish supplier of bamboo and sandlewood sunglasses is Dead Fresh. They state that their glasses are made from ethical sourced timber and they donate €1 for every pair sold to the forest protection charity ITF (International Tree Foundation). Their lenses are polarised and you can buy from their website.
Yes another Irish based wood sunglass supplier, amongst other things, is Wood Life Store. They sell handcrafted sunglasses and watches from 100% organic, sustainably farmed wood and work with environmental charities to plant two trees for every item sold.
Other suppliers of these type of sunglasses include;
- Raw Roots (Ireland – see above)
- Dead Fresh (Ireland – see above)
- Wood Life Store (Ireland – see above)
- I am Bamboo (UK – funds planting of trees)
- Pala (UK – fund eyecare charities in Africa, make cases from recycled plastic, packaging is recycled and FSC certified)
- Bambooka (UK – fund eyecare and other charities in Africa, make cases from recycled plastic, packaging is recycled and FSC certified
- Old Youth (UK – Ten trees planted for every order)
- Fresh for Pandas (UK – wooden, acetate and metal sunglasses and prescription glasses)
- Plant Wear (Poland – plant approx 50 trees a month, glasses made from FSC certified wood)
- Rolf Spectacles (Austria – Available from Optica, D2. Made with prescription lenses)
- Karum World (Belgium based B-corp with manufacturing made in Patagonia, Chile from salvaged marine waste, Frames can be sent to company for recycling at the end of their life, Can make with prescription lenses too.)
- Kate Wood Originals/ (Holland and Shanghai – donates 10% of its profits to charity)
- Time for Wood (Holland – Plant a tree for every pair sold)
- Aarni Wood (Finland- Use only sustainable timber, some from Finland)
- Lou di lo (Serbia – They plant a tree for every pair of glasses sold)
- Wood Stock Eye Wear (Slovenia)
Recycled Sunglasses Brands
Crann is an Irish and family owned company offering recycled sunglasses with a lifetime guarantee. Their frames are made from recycled materials, including recycled wood.
Spanish company Sea 2 See. make glass frames from recycled plastic marine waste.
Waterhaul is a social enterprise in the UK offering recycled plastic glasses made from discarded fishing nets, with a lifetime guarantee. They state that the polarised Barberini mineral-glass lenses are recyclable, that their product and packaging supply chain is free from single-use plastic and that you’ll receive your glasses in harm-free recycled wood-pulp packaging. They also do lense-free frames that you can get fitted by them or by your local optician.
The charity Ocean Clean will use 100% of the profits from sales of their recycled sunglasses to continue their ocean clean-up operations. They estimate that they can clean an area equivalent to 24 football fields of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch from the proceeds of just one pair of sunglasses. The glasses themselves are made by Italian company Safilo from recycled PET, recycled stainless steel and recycled marine waste. They’re almost 50% of the way towards the target needed to start production.
Coral eyewear also make glasses from recycled ocean plastic, but in addition to sunglasses they also make prescription glasses. The glasses come in a recycled plastic pouch and when your finished with the glasses you can send them back to the company for recycling. There is one stockist in Ireland and that’s Helen Walsh Opticians in Galway
Or better still, make a new pair of sunglasses from your old ones. This is an option to owners of w.r.yuma glasses from Antwerp in Belgium. Simply post them your old frames and they’re recycle them back into a new pair and deliver them using CO2 neutral methods. They’ll even give you a discount that increases the longer you hold onto your original frames. How cool is that?
Bird is a UK based B-corp offering certified sustainable wood frames and repurposed aerospace aluminium metal frames. For every pair sold they distribute solar light to remote countries in Africa and they give a 50% discount if you return your old ones to them. They fit prescription lenses and also have a cool virtual try-on app for some of their frames. They do free delivery and returns and give a 1 year warranty.
Wires Glasses use stainless steel and 3D printing to make zero waste glasses in Italy. They say that 3D printing allows them to create 70% less waste than traditionally made glasses. They also use a bio-based polymer made from castor oil in their frames and lenses to reduce the percentage of plastic used.
CHPO is a Swedish brand of Peta certified vegan glasses (and watches) made from certified recycled plastic and steel, which are packaged in recyclable & compostable plastic packaging.
Grech & Co is a Danish / American brand making glasses from recycled plastic for adults & children.