8 Sustainable Sunglasses For A Brighter Future

Imagine yourself lounging on the beach, soaking up the sun, and feeling the cool breeze on your face. You’ve got your beach outfit on point, but what’s missing? The perfect pair of sustainable sunglasses, of course!

Not only do they shield your eyes from the sun's harmful rays, but they can also be the finishing touch to your beach look. Sunglasses have always been a stylish accessory, but now, with sustainable options available, you can add eco-friendliness to your fashion statement.

From chic oversized frames to colorful tints, there are sustainable sunglasses options to match any beach style. So, before you head out to the beach, don’t forget to grab a pair of eco-friendly shades! Before you pack your sustainable beach towel and recycled flip-flops, look at the guides at the end of this post, where we discuss why and how to shop for eco-shades.

1. Genusee

A woman on the beach with sustainable sunglasses on her head from Gunesee.Pin
Image: Genusee

Genusee Eyewear offers a selection of stylish and sustainable glasses made from recycled single-use plastic water bottles. The brand's collection features a range of frames designed to suit different face shapes and personal styles.

Their signature frame, the Roeper, is a classic style in several colors, including black, Ocean Blue, and bronze. The frame features a slightly rounded shape with a keyhole bridge and is suitable for both men and women.

Another popular frame is the Focals, a unisex style with a rectangular shape and slightly oversized fit. The frame is available in several colors, including black, tortoise, and clear.

Genusee also offers a range of sunglasses, including the Sun Roeper, a classic wayfarer style, and the Sun Focals, a rectangular style perfect for outdoor activities.

Genusee's frames are designed to be durable and long-lasting and are made with high-quality materials, including recycled stainless steel and bio-based acetate. The brand also offers prescription lenses and a range of lens coatings to suit different vision needs.

The brand's goal is to upcycle plastic waste caused by the man-made water crisis in Flint and turn it into closed-loop eyewear, which is not only environmentally friendly but also creates jobs for returning citizens in the Flint community.

They encourage a circular economy by designing products and systems from ideation to be closed loop. Genusee offers a unique Buy-Back Program, which allows customers to take responsibility for their eyeglasses in the ecosystem.

When a customer is done using their Genusee eyewear, the brand buys it back for a credit towards their next pair.

1% of their profits are donated to the Community Fund of Greater Flint, which distributes donations to two funds that address children’s health and education in Flint: Flint Promise & Child Health and Development Fund. Price $89+

2. Sunski

A woman on the beach with sustainable sunglasses on her head from Sunski.Pin
Image: Sunski

Sunski's SuperLight technology is a unique and innovative feature that sets their sunglasses apart from other brands. The SuperLight technology combines design elements and materials, making Sunski's sunglasses incredibly lightweight and comfortable.

SuperLight is a recycled polymer that transforms post-industrial scrap plastic into a material they use for all their sunglasses.

Sunski offers a variety of sunglasses styles to suit different face shapes and activities. For example, if you have a round face, Sunski offers sunglasses with angular or geometric frames, such as the Dipsea, Foxtail, or Taraval.

If you're looking for sunglasses for outdoor activities, Sunski offers specialized options such as running sunglasses like the Topeka, fishing sunglasses like the Vantage, and hiking sunglasses like the Treeline.

For those who prefer classic looks, Sunski offers eco friendly aviator sunglasses and retro-style sunglasses, such as the Original and Madronas, respectively. With prices starting at $48, these are the most affordable sustainable sunglasses.

Sunski is a San Francisco-based sunglasses and lifestyle apparel brand launched in 2012 through a Kickstarter campaign to provide affordable polarized sunglasses.

Sunski is committed to sustainability, donates a portion of its revenue to environmental non-profits as a 1% For the Planet member, and has a Carbon Neutral certificate.

3. Warby Parker

Two models wearing sustainable sunglasses from Warby Parker . Pin
Image: Warby Parker

If you are looking for sustainable prescription sunglasses, look no further than Warby Parker.

Most of its frames are made using Italian plant cellulose acetate, a durable and sustainable material. Warby Parker uses ultralight, easily recyclable titanium, stainless steel, or bronze for thinner frames, allowing for a lightweight and comfortable fit.

In addition to its high-quality frame materials, Warby Parker also uses polycarbonate impact-resistant lenses. These lightweight lenses provide excellent clarity, making them a great choice for prescription glasses and sunglasses.

Warby Parker offers sustainable prescription sunglasses in single-vision, progressive, and reader options. This allows customers to choose the lens option that best suits their needs and preferences while reducing their environmental impact.

Warby Parker's Buy a Pair, Give a Pair program has distributed over 13 million pairs of glasses to people in need worldwide.

They recognize that around 1 billion people globally require glasses but do not have access to them. Warby Parker works with partners worldwide to distribute glasses by empowering people to administer basic eye exams and sell glasses at affordable prices or directly giving vision care and glasses to those in need via cross-sector partnerships.

By purchasing Warby Parker glasses, customers improve their vision and help alleviate impaired vision for others.

4. Pela

A woman lying on a white blanket wearing sustainable sunglasses on her head from Pela.Pin
Image: Pela

The best eco-friendly sunglasses are made by one of our favorite brands Pela. You might know them from their compostable ethical cell phone cases. Pela Case's eco-friendly sunglasses are not only stylish but also sustainable.

Made from sustainable materials, these sunglasses feature durable lenses and offer full UVA/UVB protection from the sun's rays while reducing plastic and waste. The polycarbonate CAT 3 UV400 lenses provide full protection and can be swapped with blue light lenses.

With various frame shapes and colors, including sustainable cat eye sunglasses and the San Fran Slim, Pela has a pair of sunglasses for everyone looking for a stylish and environmentally friendly option.

You can even send in your old pair of sustainable sunglasses with their 360 Program, which upcycles, recycles, composts, and disposes of them properly. 

Compared to conventional sunglasses and packaging, Pela Case's eco-friendly sunglasses have 33% fewer CO2e emissions, 34% less water usage, and 82% less waste.

Pela Case is a Canadian company founded in 2011 by Jeremy Lang. He was inspired to create sustainable products after a trip to Hawaii, where he saw the devastating impact of plastic waste on the environment.

Pela Case's products are made from a unique blend of plant-based materials, including flax straw waste and biopolymers, which are renewable, compostable, and biodegradable.

In addition to its focus on sustainability, Pela Case is also committed to giving back to the environment. The company has partnered with 1% for the Planet and donates 1% of its revenue to environmental non-profits working to protect the planet.

5. Sienna Alexander

A woman wearing with sustainable sunglasses on her head from Sienna Miller. Pin
Image: ienna Alexande

Sienna Alexander is a London-based brand that designs and produces eco-friendly sunglasses inspired by the multicultural city of London.

Regarding Sienna Alexander's sunglasses styles, they offer various options including classic aviator, round, square, and cat-eye frames.

They also have a range of colors and lens options, such as mirrored and gradient lenses. Some popular styles from their collection include the "Belgravia," "Marylebone," "Wimbledon," and "Mayfair." Each frame is designed to complement a variety of face shapes and styles.

Their collection is made of Mazzucchelli Bio Acetate, an innovative and eco-friendly material made by mixing cellulose acetate with bio-based plasticizers. Each frame is crafted by artisan families in Northern Italy using the highest quality materials, ensuring 100% UV protection for your eyes and face.

Sienna Alexander donates to Vision Aid Overseas for every pair of sunglasses sold. This charity works in countries across Africa to provide access to eye care services for those in need. The charity has helped over one million patients and focuses on fighting poverty through the power of good vision. Price from $126.

6. Zeal Optics

A woman wearing sustainable sunglasses  from Zeal.Pin
Image: Zeal Optics

Zeal Optics offers sunglasses made from a unique combination of recycled plastic and grass fibers called See Grass. This sustainable material is produced in a closed-loop system at a German biorefinery, where fibrous grasses are grown and mixed with pre-consumer recycled plastics.

The process is powered by a methane turbine that runs on decomposing organic matter and creates fertilizer to grow the grasses without generating waste.

See Grass frames are durable, and each pair is unique. Zeal lenses are polarized and block 100% of harmful UVA/B/C rays, protecting your eyes against the risk of long-term damage from the sun's rays.

You've got the choice of six fun styles to choose from, perfect for any face shape. They also come in various colors, including pink, yellow, great, and black.

Zeal Optics is a company based in Boulder, Colorado, founded by Michael and Wink Jackson, passionate outdoor enthusiasts. The company comprises a small team of individuals who work hard to improve their products and are dedicated to testing them out in the great outdoors. They are also members of 1% For The Planet.

7. Szade

A woman wearing sustainable sunglasses from szade.Pin
Image: Szade

Szade is a brand that offers sustainable sunglasses at an affordable price. What sets them apart is that their frames and arms are made of post-consumer recycled polycarbonate sourced from landfill-bound sunglasses in China.

The lenses are crafted from the highest grade of impact-resistant polycarbonate to ensure durability. The funky vibe of Szade's shades is reflected in their color and occasion options, such as coast, party, festival, staples, classic, and rave.

Want glasses that make a statement? These are for you!

Watts is a square 70's inspired silhouette designed for work and play. These glasses feature blue light-blocking lenses that transition to tints in the sun, providing a sustainable frame for the modern individual.

The frames aim to reduce straining and fatigue from extended screen time while offering a stylish look for any occasion. Watts is a non-gendered design, making them accessible for anyone to wear.

Florey is a classic cat-eye frame that Dresden has redefined. Designed in Melbourne, Australia, the wearer's unique style inspires the glasses. These frames are perfect for those who love classic feline frames with a modern twist.

They use certified recycled paper and cardboard for their shippers, tags, cards, catalogs, and brand cards. In addition, they avoid using single-use plastics for stuffing and wrapping and instead use recycled tissue to protect each frame during the packing process.

Szade takes pride in leaving a positive "paper trail" by minimizing its environmental impact through packaging and printed materials. Price $69.95+

8. Grown

A guy wearing sustainable sunglasses from Grown.Pin
Image: Grown

Grown offers handcrafted sustainable sunglasses for women and men made from durable bamboo, Ecotate®, and organic hardwoods such as maple, ebony, and walnut. All materials used are organic, renewable, and free from harmful or toxic elements.

Each pair of Grown eyewear has a unique grain pattern due to the use of bamboo or wood. The resources used are ethically sourced and managed forests that meet the standards of the FSC for sustainable forestry management.

Grown sunglasses feature premium stainless steel spring hinges and polarized lenses with CE UV 400 (100% UVA/UVB). Grown offers an industry-first 100-day warranty and 180-day accident coverage.

They have over 15 styles to choose from with an assortment of lenses. It will be hard to choose just one.

For every pair of sunglasses purchased, Grown funds sight-restoring eye surgery for one person or diagnostic eye exams for twelve children through their giving partner, SEVA Canada.

They strive to achieve carbon neutrality annually by balancing carbon emissions by supporting renewable energy creation, landfill gas recovery, and tree planting initiatives.

What are sustainable sunglasses anyway?

For sustainable sunglasses, consider compostable or recyclable materials, with bonus points for using recycled materials. Biodegradable materials include bamboo, recycled skateboards, reclaimed wood, and sustainably sourced hardwoods.

On the recycled side, recycled plastics are primarily used to create frames that keep plastics out of landfills or oceans. Don't forget metal frames, which are fully recyclable.

What about cellulose acetate, a bioplastic made from natural cotton fibers or wood pulp? While renewable and theoretically biodegradable, manufacturing requires corrosive chemicals and plasticizers that negate eco-friendly qualities. The best eco-friendly cellulose acetate sunglasses are made with organic cotton or sustainably harvested tree pulp, with no added plasticizers.

Unfortunately, sustainable lens technology is not as advanced as frame technology. Most lenses are made of recyclable polycarbonate, which requires a specialized facility. However, some companies are bringing back glass lenses, which are fully recyclable and produced via a zero-waste production method.

When disposing of sunglasses, remove the lenses and check with the company for lens recycling services. And, as always, donate or recycle your sunglasses with the manufacturer for the most eco-friendly option.

What can you do with old sunglasses?

Donate Them

Donating them to charity homes can be a great option if you have old sunglasses that you no longer use. However, before sending them off, check with the charity organization to confirm their collection policy is best.

Many charities ask that sunglasses be sent to them, even if they don't need them immediately. The charity can then sell them and use the proceeds for other charitable causes. Donating your sunglasses can also help others in need and is an eco-friendly option that keeps them out of landfills.

There are various options available for recycling old eyewear. One such option is the non-profit organization OneSight, which provides patients with new eyewear and accepts donated glasses.

OneSight disassembles the donated glasses and sends them to a third-party recycler. This process ensures that the glasses are disposed of in an environmentally friendly way.

Another organization that collects eyeglasses and hearing aids is Lions Clubs International. They collect the eyeglasses to either be reused or recycled. You can also contact your eye care specialist to find out if they know how to recycle used glasses.

Sell Them

If your old sunglasses are still in good condition, you can sell them to make a little extra money. Thrift stores and online platforms like eBay, Facebook, or Instagram are good options.

Gift Them

Gifting your old sunglasses to your loved ones is another great option to keep them in use. However, before gifting them, ensure they are still in good condition and can be used by the recipient.

Change the Lenses

If your old sunglasses are still in good shape, but the lenses are damaged or scratched, changing the lenses can make them like new again.

A final word on plant-friendly sunglasses

So there you have it - sustainable sunglasses are the way to go for eco-conscious fashionistas! And the good news is sustainable fashion doesn't stop there. Don't forget to check out sustainable swimsuits for guys and gals for your next beach day, zero-waste sunscreen to protect your skin and the ocean, and even sustainable picnic baskets for your next outdoor adventure!

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