Eco Friendly Sunglasses? EQO Optics!

With the mission to reduce our environmental impact, we’ve been looking for better choices when replacing old/broken belongings. One thing Joshua used to go through like crazy is cheap plastic sunglasses from the petrol station. They either fell apart or were lost within a few weeks, just to be replaced with the same kind of rubbish. Besides this being an absolute waste of plastic, it was also bad for his eyes, as the cheap lenses were definitely not good enough to protect him against the UV rays of the desert sun.

So, off I went on a quest to find some eco friendly sunglasses online. If you Google ‘eco friendly sunglasses‘ you’ll come across a range of blogs/websites that compare different models. This is where my reading started, but it didn’t really provide me with a solution. A few things that I noted were the following:

  • Just because the company advertises their product as eco friendly, wooden, or compostable, the product is not necessarily eco friendly – ask questions and do your own research! Don’t just believe the advertisement.
  • Recycling of materials used may only be possible by specialist services (to which you may not have access in your country) and not by means of your roadside recycling.
  • Was it made in China? Most sunglasses on the market are, and I would rather support a local, US, or European manufacturer, where I can ascertain if the working conditions are good and the materials used are of high quality.
  • Cellulose acetate is advertised by manufacturers as a biodegradable material, but i couldn’t find much information about its degradability online; I contacted customer service from Proof Eyewear, who were kind enough to respond honestly:
    • Greetings,
      I am not surprised that you didn’t find any information regarding that out on the internet, because there really isn’t a lot of available information regarding the biodegradability of cotton-based acetate (or cellulose acetate).
      In my quick research I was able to find a scholarly article which researched the biodegradability of cellulose acetate. Although, this study didn’t look specifically at eyewear, it did look at other cellulose acetate materials and other cellulose compounds and their biodegradability factor. You can see that article at https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10924-010-0258-0
      Most research has been done on cigarette filters, but like our eyewear, they are also made from a cellulose acetate. And research has shown that it takes anywhere from 18 months to 10 years for the cellulose fibers in cigarette filters to decompose, with being buried in the ground as more conducive to the decomposition process; which would be similar to the biodegradability factor of our cotton-based acetate eyewear.
      As for our lenses, they are made from a polycarbonate material and are not as biodegradable as the cellulose acetate. Although we are currently looking for more eco-friendly alternatives for our lenses.
      Hope this helps answer your questions.
      Best regards

The first purchase I made was from Proof Eyewear, where I bought glasses for Josh made from skateboard deck. The glasses do look nice, but I don’t believe they are made from recycled skateboard decks. They also came with a plastic sleeve and, although the company has a great USA-born story, they are manufactured in China. Nice, but not a perfect solution.

So I continued my search for a better option, focusing on sunnies made from recycled skateboard decks or wood. I found several other makes, but the majority were made in China. Fail.

Eventually, I came across EQO Optics. They source old skateboard decks and hand make their models to order in Colorado – they use polarized lenses from Polaroid and fit the sunnies with spring fit hinges.  Awesome! We went ahead and bought three pairs of different models and colors!

First of all, the price was good, they do free worldwide shipping (amazing!!!), and their customer service via email was awesome. So, thanks guys!

The packaging was eco friendly – a cardboard box, some paper wrapping, each set of sunnies was stored in a thin cardboard box, and the invoice was printed on paper. The only piece of plastic on the order was the bit of sticky tape to seal the box and the clips on the sunnies’ drawstring bags (@EQOOptics – please consider ditching the plastic clips – a simple draw string bag does the job :). The glasses look great – we picked different colors and styles to see what we like. We didn’t just buy several cause we’re greedy, but because we can now leave sets in different sports gear bags and the car, so we never forget them (no good in the desert without sunnies…).

The frames look great and they actually appear to be what it says on the website – recycled skateboard decks. The little imperfections make them unique and give them character. The hinges are springy, making for a good fit and the lenses are nice and dark. We bought the Woodrow (which I claimed), the Sycamore and the Acer, which Josh is now using. Super happy with the product and super happy to have found such a cool company! Keep it up guys!

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