Four eyed friends rejoice! There are lots of ethical spectacle options out there for you my visually impaired people. As someone who is squeamish about contacts but needs some kind of lenses to see and function in life, over the last few years I have searched far and wide for the best frames available. Glasses feature smack bang in the middle of your face so you need to get it right. Here are my top tried and tested picks.
I have gotten more compliments on my Proof Eyewear wooden frames than any other pair of glasses I’ve ever worn. And I’ve been wearing glasses for over two decades.
When I reached out to the brand they told me that the wood is sourced from sustainable forest farms located in the USA. Wherever a tree is cut down a new tree is planted in its place. The frames are made at one of three different manufacturers in China and Proof says they visit each of these facilities at least once a year to discuss production and safety. In 2016 the company donated 12 percent of its annual profit to its Do Good Program that supports different projects across the world.
These kinds of frames can be a little heavier and more uncomfortable than lightweight plastic frames but I’ve never been too bothered. My last pair lasted about one year before they fell apart but Proof takes back any unwanted products in return for a 50 percent discount off your next pair. If the frames are still in good condition they donate them but they will also buy back broken frames too. Admittedly when I contacted them about returning my pair, I found out I was going to have to wear the cost of shipping so never bothered.
Be warned, Proof only provides the frames. Check in with your optometrist before making a decision to purchase because it is possible that they will make a disapproving face and refuse to source the lenses for your new specs. Speaking from experience. Wood is apparently harder to work with than plastic.
Closed Loop Frames
The clever people at Dresden Optics have got all the bases covered. All of them. Manufactured in Sydney, Australia the majority of the frames are made from a recyclable nylon using a zero waste, closed loop system. Dresden has also created limited collections from beer keg lids, milk bottle tops, plastic rubbish collected from the beach, fishing nets and even Lego! The brand boasts that so far it’s saved 436 kilograms of plastic from going to landfill.
The frames come in a single shape in multiple sizes and colours. This design reduces the cost of lenses as it means Dresden can buy one size in bulk. It also allows you to interchange different coloured legs or frames at your whim by popping and switching out the lenses. The hardest part of it all is choosing and committing to a new colour.
Dresden provides an unheard of 10 year warranty on all spectacles. How many of us have ever had a pair of glasses for that long? I certainly haven’t. One of my favourite things to do is to whip them off and show people how flexible the plastic is. If by some chance you decide you don’t want your frames anymore, the brand will take them back and recycle them into brand spanking new spectacles. Closing that loop.
Dresden is also exceptionally affordable. Over the last few years my eyesight has deteriorated to the point where I have to get the special whizz bang lenses. One optician tried to charge me $600 for the lenses alone. At Dresden you can pick up a new pair of glasses complete with lenses for less than $100. Seems almost too good to be true!
Deadstock refers to all sorts of things that were made a long time ago but have been hanging out in warehouses unsold and unloved. A lot of brands use deadstock fabric to create their clothing and the internet is littered with deadstock frames. These are a great option because you’re using something that is already in existence instead of supporting a system that constantly asks you to buy brand new. They can also be really affordable.
You can find deadstock frames in quite a few different places. Google it and you’re already drowning in lots of different options. Etsy has a great variety but there are lots of online stores with so many offerings. Personally I like to try frames on and unintentionally torture shop assistants with my indecision before committing to a new pair. I did an online search for an optician that stocked deadstock frames locally and bought my glasses that way.
Have any other tips on where to get the best and most ethical spectacles? Please let us know!