Sep 20, 2021
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Sustainable eyewear is finally in sight

Sep 20, 2021

After fashion, leather goods and cosmetics, the eyewear world is now undergoing its own green revolution. A new breed of increasingly less polluting, sustainable frames are emerging, using eco-responsible materials that are often natural, and sometimes even biodegradable, helping to reduce the industry's environmental impact.


Although still the subject of many controversies, eco-responsible fashion is now a reality. For several years, the industry has been working on ways of reducing its impact on the planet, using plant-based materials, cleaner production processes, or moving to new practices such as second-hand clothing, recycling or renting clothes. And while the focus is often on ready-to-wear and accessories, eyewear is no exception. Indeed, glasses can be very polluting, especially when they're made of plastic -- a material that can take centuries to degrade in nature.

This is an issue that the industry is now taking on board, launching new alternatives to plastic, particularly in the form of plant-based materials. In the fall of 2020, the Amaury Paris brand launched biodegradable lemon-based glasses, which promise to be compostable in just over 90 days, while the Wood Light label unveiled a pair of shades with frames made with French volcanic rock. These are two initiatives among many others, showing that the green revolution is well and truly underway in the eyewear world.

Bio-acetate, the new star material

Wood, stone, lemon -- or rather citric acid -- castor oil, corn and even algae are just some of the natural resources being used to make sustainable glasses. Most of these materials are also used in the fashion industry, especially for sneakers and goods traditionally executed in leather. But if there is one material that's been everywhere in eyewear in recent months, it's bio-acetate. This differs from ordinary acetate in that it's biodegradable and is made from renewable resources. It therefore meets the new requirements of the sector, and considerably reduces the time it takes frames to decompose.

Although decomposition times vary greatly from one brand to another, they're still a far cry from the few centuries required for plastic frames to break down. The French brand Moken, known for its ecological wooden glasses, has just launched a new collection of 18 frames that promise to be "100% bio-compostable," made from bio-acetate, and with some models paired with natural materials promising to decompose in 120 days upon contact with compost.

Making way for recycling

The eyewear sector is also gradually turning to recycling, offering frames designed, for example, from recycled steel. The Eco Eyewear brand goes even further with its Eco Ocean line of frames created from plastic collected from the ocean by fishermen and local communities, in collaboration with Waste Free Oceans. The plastic is then recycled to create eco-friendly frames.

Whether it's sustainable or biodegradable materials, or even recycling, the eyewear industry has well and truly begun its transformation to reduce its long-term impact on the planet. And this green revolution is just getting started.

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