The world has a shopping problem. In the rush to keep up with consumer demand for new products, industries end up generating more waste – inevitably sending millions of tonnes of waste to landfills each year. The best way for companies to meet demand but also cut down on their environmental impact is to move towards sustainable solutions.
Fortunately, there are eco-friendly and conscious brands already pursuing these solutions in their business models. One such brand, Eco, the sustainable line of eyewear developed by New York-based company MODO, is transforming the industry by manufacturing chic and stylish eyewear made from innovative biobased and recycled materials.
In the US $110 billion global eyewear market, the business focus is usually on transforming a physical deficiency or on the fashion design; the production process and frame construction often takes a backseat. But with over a billion people in the developing world and, according to the Vision Council of America, almost 189 million people (roughly 61% of the population) in the United States needing corrective eyewear, the potential for waste and environmental degradation in the industry is high.
Eco is helping to solve this problem by offering customers eco-friendly alternatives.
“Being environmentally friendly and looking good is the best of all worlds!” – Eco
Eco’s new range of recycled frames are crafted with 95% recycled metals, reducing the need for new materials and saving on natural resources. Given the earth’s finite resources, the traditional linear model of “taking, making, and disposing” of products is unsustainable; the concept of circularity – extracting the maximum value from resources and keeping these resources in circulation rather than landfilling – is proving popular.
Then there’s the Eco biobased frames; sustainable plastic eyewear that is crafted from plant-based castor seed oil (a non-food vegetable oil of pressed castor beans from the perennial castor plant). They’re even verified by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture).
All of Eco’s eyewear is manufactured in highly-specialised factories in China, carefully selected and equipped with the technology and expertise to craft Eco’s unique, sustainable frames. The recycled content of its frames has also been validated by Underwriters Laboratory (UL); with its parent company MODO becoming one of the first consumer brands to receive an Environmental Claims Validation (ECV) for its recycled products.
Both recycled and biobased styles can be found in Eco’s recently released FW19 collection. Whether you’re after an optical style or sunglasses, you’re bound to find a frame to suit your style tastes, preferences, and needs. For example, for eyeglass wearers with a preference for cat-eye optical frames, there’s the biobased ‘Jade’ style; for those wanting a Harry Potter spectacle look there’s the ‘Helsinki,’ or for square single-wire frame enthusiasts, the ‘Palma’ is an ideal choice.
Some sunglasses even feature a colourful enamel finish for an extra pop of flair and attitude, such as the aviator-style ‘Belize’ with its pink-coloured lenses, or the hexagonal frame ‘Niseko,’ which comes with green lenses. If you’re unsure what I’m referring to, just think 90s statement eyewear featuring coloured lenses worn by Britney Spears and ’N Sync’s Justin Timberlake and you get the drift.
Road-testing Eco Eyewear
I’ve been obsessed with wearing sunglasses for as long as I can remember. You only need to go through my personal Instagram feed to see that they are an essential part of my daily life; there’s usually a pair on my face, especially when I’m hanging out in the sun. Go back through my high school photos and you’ll inevitably spot me wearing classic shades at lunchtime or on the sports fields.
Fast forward to today, and nothing has really changed – sunglasses are still my favourite fashion accessory; one item I never leave home without.
So naturally, I’ve tried on tons of sunglasses and love experimenting with styles. But given my delicate facial features thanks to my Asian heritage, not all of them suit me. Some go sliding down the bridge of my little nose and require constant adjustment while others are just way too big and cover half of my face. When this happens, the sunglasses are tossed aside and I’m back to wearing old favourite styles, because let’s face it, is there anything more annoying than sunnies that require an index finger just to stay put? So when Eco sent through four different frames to try on, I was excited because the odds were stacked in my favour– at least one pair was bound to suit me and fit properly.
Here’s what I received:
- Merano in Dark Lavender/Gun
- Jaya in Black
- Meru Clip-On in Dark Tortoise
- Meru Clip-on in Aqua
In trying each pair on, I was astonished to find how ultra-lightweight and comfortable they were. This threw me off a little as I wasn’t expecting it. I’m used to wearing shades that are heavier. It’s no biggie; an eco girl can adapt to wearing lightweight shades made of recycled and biobased materials. It’s the least I can do for the planet.
Now I don’t personally wear eyeglasses, but a part of me wishes I did given my penchant for developing quirky and artsy personas through my fashion and accessory choices. Eco sent two basic frames for me to test the Meru clip-ons on; one frame was dark tortoise and the other aqua. I tried them both on and showed my partner. “Hey geek girl,” he said. A fitting description of me with or without glasses, quite frankly.
Experimenting with the magnetic clip-ons was the fun part; observing how they transformed the eyeglasses to sunglasses. With a click and a snap, the magnetic clip-ons (made from biobased materials) quickly attached to the optical frames, providing instant sun protection. They clicked off and on easily, requiring almost no time to turn them into sunglasses and back again. I was also surprised that I could walk, sit and drive with them on, without the clip-on falling off the frames.
What a great idea these are! I thought. I instantly thought of my mother who wears both reading glasses and sunglasses but carries just the one set (usually her sunnies). This eyewear and magnetic clip-on combination would make her life way easier.
Now if you’re an outdoor fitness fanatic, triathlete, or runner and need sun protection for your eyes, my suggestion would be to just invest in a pair of regular Eco sunglasses and lay off the clip-ons. The clip-on sunglass attachments aren’t built to perform for excessive movement; I’m talking from experience as the other day I was moving quickly, rushing through a crowd, and absentmindedly adjusted my frames. The clip-ons nearly came off!
As for the sunnies, the ones I thought looked best and fit well were the ‘Jaya’ black retro style sunglasses. They’re a classic pair that will match many of my fav outfits and suit my fashion tastes. Plus, in the short time I’ve been wearing them, I’ve already been paid a few compliments and when you’re receiving positive comments about your Eco frames, you know you’re onto a winner.
One Frame, One Tree
Since I also co-own a certified organic farm and my heart truly belongs to the earth, I’m especially loving that for every pair of glasses Eco sells, it makes a donation to its nonprofit partners Trees for the Future, who plant a tree for every frame sold. Trees for the Future also partners with farmers to educate them about agroforestry and sustainable farming techniques and helps farmers transplant nursery trees into their fields to improve soil and enhance biodiversity –like I said, this is a way to get to my heart!
To date, with the help of its customers, Eco has planted over two million trees, and they’re still counting. A great effort all around.
If you care to look good, feel good, and do good, make your next eyewear purchase from Eco. You can browse their extensive collection at https://eco-eyewear.com.
Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Eco and some images were supplied. Any opinions expressed are held by that of the author. Facts and other specific product information is checked with the company. For more information about our policies, click here.
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