The idea for this blog post came to me after a rather awkward Instagram conversation (or more accurately confrontation) by a purist.
You know purists? The ones who don't accept there are shades of grey. Who see things in absolutes. Well I was unfortunate enough to come digitally face-to-face with one. And just to be clear, I'm not projecting, she admitted to looking at things in black and white.
This particular conversation arose because I posted an Instagram image of me wearing my Prada sunglasses. The purist left a comment with a URL link to an article exploring the issue of luxury brands being un-sustainable and added an un-smiley face as if to indicate her disappointment with me.
Judge all you want I say but shouldn't my back story at least be considered? And there is always a back story isn't there? With everything I do for the sustainability cause I often get perplexed at these digital accusations.
I won't rehash the conversation here because the matter is over, but if you'd like to know how a second-hand lover like me ended up with a pair of Prada sunglasses, just head to my Instagram account and click on the recent shot of me wearing them after a dip in the creek.
That's enough of that. I know you didn't come here to learn the reason of why I wrote this topic. LOL! Here's what you've really come for: a list of 11 eco-friendly sunglasses to add a little glamour to your green life and help you ward off the sun glare - and wrinkles!
Read below and see if there's a brand that catches your eye (pun intended haha...)
1. Sticks & Sparrow
Launched in 2013, Australian-brand Sticks & Sparrow offers some of the most stylish eco sunglasses on the market, perfect for style-driven eco fashionistas like me.
The bamboo eyewear is beautifully designed in Australia and manufactured in China (where bamboo is plentiful). It comes with a cork case and the glasses are fitted with 100% UV protective scratch resistant lenses which ensures longevity - a long fashion shelf life is a wonderful thing in my book!
2. Modo - ECO Range
The ECO range by Modo is the only eyewear collection that carries a UL Environment Validation certifying that product is made from 95% recycled materials and 63% biobased material. Driving the eyewear industry's effort in sustainability and social responsibility, Modo also plants a tree for every frame sold (“one frame – one tree”).
The packaging is also made of recycled paper and includes a mail-in recycling kit allowing customers to donate unwanted spectacles to those in need (Modo's “buy a frame – give a frame” program).
Inspired by Californian beach culture, this sustainable eyewear brand is handcrafted in Hermosa, California from rapidly maturing bamboo and stainless steel. The brand offers free shipping on all domestic orders and a flat $13 international shipping charge. Woodwear also offer a 90 day warranty.
4. Warby Parker
[Warning: Warby Parker is US-based and does not ship their eco stylish sunglasses to Australia yet!]
I'm personally annoyed that this brand doesn't ship to Australia because these optics are eco-stylish and design is important (to me anyway).
In addition to good design, Warby Parker sunglasses have a buy-a-pair, give-a-pair program, partnering with non-profits like Vision Spring to ensure that for every pair of glasses sold, a pair is given to someone in need
And as if that wasn't enough, they also have a Home Try-On service; a free trial allowing you to try 5 pairs for 5 days, a great solution for people like me who want to try sunglasses before they buy (I have a small nose and some sunnies just don't sit right). Browse Warby Parker today.
5. Solo Eyewear
Did you know that approximately 1 billion people do not have access to eye care and nearly 80% of the world's blindness is preventable? It was this startling statistic that prompted founder Jenny Amaraneni to go on a mission to make a difference. Whilst at university she partnered with friend and fellow student Dana Halliday and together they launched SOLO.
These handcrafted sunglasses are made with recycled bamboo and for every pair purchased, SOLO will donate a pair of prescription glasses to a person in need. To date, the company has helped 11,000+ people across 32 countries proving that you can change the world, one spectacle at a time. Browse the range here.
A true family operated business, this sustainable wooden eyewear brand is run by three brothers whose fate was indeed cemented by their grandfather who started a sawmill in Idaho in the mid-50s.
Proof is an ode to this family history but also embraces modern times; each is handcrafted from sustainable materials including FSC-certified wood, cotton-based acetate, and repurposed skateboard decks. They also have a "Do Good Program" where they give back to the community. Some of the projects they've donated funds to include: building eye clinics in India, child soldier rehabilitation in Africa, and various community projects in El Salvador.
If you search #ecosunglasses on Instagram you're bound to find this brand. Another US-based company, Blue Planet Eyewear collections are made with recycled and reclaimed materials and natural materials such as bamboo and wood. These eyewear designs are extremely affordable and mostly suited to those who embrace the beach and skate cultures, or enjoy a relaxed lifestyle. If you're after luxury or sophisticated glamour, this brand isn't for you.
8. Topheads Eyewear
With eyewear called "The Bennie" and "Shaneo" it's no surprise that this Australian made and owned eyewear company hails from one of Australia's most famous shores: Bondi Beach.
A testament to Australia's beach culture, Topheads Eyewear sunglasses are also made from eco-friendly materials including wood, bamboo, bioplastic and even recycled skateboard decks.
And if that doesn't get you going, the brand also offers a free home trial "5 Frames for 5 Days" for their optical range as well as free shipping to anywhere in Australia and New Zealand.
This ethical eyewear company epitomises slow fashion. Each pair of Westward Leaning sunglasses is handcrafted by artisans and jewellers at their San Francisco studio using traditional techniques. They also donate to non-profit organisations such as Love Thy Neighbor Mexico.
Famous fans: Jessica Alba, Olivia Palermo (above picture is the pair of sunglasses named after her) and Natalie Portman.
10. Antonio Verde Eco Sunglasses
Since its launch in 2013, this eyewear brand has focussed on sustainability and ethical production producing sunglasses made from recycled materials and handcrafted bamboo.
This family-run business only works with certified factories based in either developed or newly industrialised countries so that they can regularly visit to inspect compliance of their high ethical standards such as providing reasonable work hours, fair wages, health insurance, safe working conditions and that it is free of child-labour.
11. Colin Leslie Bamboo Eyewear
Crafted from sourced bamboo plantations in China and Hong Kong, Colin Leslie Eyewear pieces are ethically produced as well as stylish.
A proud member of the Ethical Fashion Fellowship 500, this sustainable brand's personality comes through in the use of its hashtag #becoolwithouttrying and its avant garde designs.
Famous fan: Alicia Silverstone.
A final word on eco sunglasses...
This is a curated list and its publication does not represent endorsements of any kind by Eco Warrior Princess. The collated information is based on online research and does not take into account all ethical considerations such as veganism and local production. We suggest before making any purchases you complete further research; paying particular attention to the supply chain and of course your own set of principles. We highly recommend browsing brand evaluation websites such as Project JUST and ethical shopping apps such as GoodonYou.
Have we left any eco-friendly sunglasses brands out? If so, please let us know by leaving a comment.