Sunglasses for the Eco-Conscious: Choose Sustainable in 2024

The Environmental Impact of Traditional Sunglasses

You know that feeling when you're out in the sun on a gorgeous day and you throw on your favorite pair of shades? There's nothing quite like having the perfect sunglasses to complete your look. But have you thought about their impact on the environment? With summer right around the corner, now is the time to get informed on sustainable sunglasses. The production of many popular brands takes a heavy toll on the planet through materials and manufacturing practices. However, there are eco-friendly options available that don't sacrifice style or quality. This article will cover the environmental impact of sunglasses, introduce you to brands using recycled and natural materials, provide tips for recycling your old pairs, and help you feel good about your shades inside and out. Time to throw some shade without harming the planet!

Sustainable Materials Used in Eco-Friendly Sunglasses

Traditional sunglasses are often made of plastics and metals that require a lot of energy and resources to produce and transport, generating pollution along the way. The most common materials, like acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) plastics and polycarbonate, are petroleum-based, non-biodegradable, and hard to recycle.

Toxic Materials and Manufacturing Processes

The manufacturing of these materials also releases harmful chemicals that pollute the air and water. Additionally, the metal parts like hinges and screws contain toxic substances like lead, cadmium, and mercury. When discarded, these metals can leach into the soil and groundwater, contaminating the environment.

An Unsustainable Cycle of Consumption

Cheap, low-quality sunglasses are treated as disposable, so people frequently throw them out and buy new pairs. This cycle of overconsumption and waste puts a major strain on the planet. According to some estimates, around 4.5 billion pairs of sunglasses end up in landfills worldwide each year.

You Can Make a Difference

As an eco-conscious consumer, you have the power to drive change. Choose sustainable sunglasses made of biodegradable materials like wood, bamboo, or recycled plastics. Support brands dedicated to environmental responsibility. And when your sunglasses reach the end of their lifespan, recycle them to keep them out of the waste stream. Every small action makes a difference in creating a greener future for our planet.

Top Sustainable Sunglasses Brands to Support

If you want to do right by the planet, choose sunglasses made of sustainable materials. Many eco-friendly brands now use recycled plastics, wood, and natural fibers instead of virgin petroleum-based plastics.

Recycled Plastics

Brands like Costa Del Mar grind up used plastics and reforge them into stylish sunglasses frames. Recycling reduces waste and cuts down on pollution from making new plastics. Costa's frames contain up to 98% recycled plastics, like polypropylene and nylon.


Sustainable wood, like bamboo, oak, and cedar, is a great renewable alternative for sunglasses. Wood is durable and long-lasting, as well as biodegradable at the end of its useful life. Brands like Woodies and Proof use sustainably-sourced wood for their frames and parts like nose pads and arms.

Natural Fibers

Materials like cotton, hemp, straw, and coconut fibers are eco-friendly and help support sustainable agricultural practices. Brands such as ABLE and Krochet Kids use natural fibers woven or crocheted into trendy sunglasses frames and parts. These natural materials are breathable, durable, and biodegradable.

By choosing sunglasses made of recycled, renewable, and natural materials, you're helping to reduce pollution and support an ethical, eco-friendly fashion industry. Every small choice makes a difference, so next time you need a new pair of shades, consider sustainably-sourced and eco-friendly options. Our planet will thank you.

Recycling and Upcycling Your Old Pairs

Many eco-conscious brands are making sustainable sunglasses using recycled materials and ethical manufacturing practices. By choosing sunglasses from these brands, you can do your part to reduce waste and support the environment.

Costa Del Mar

Costa Del Mar uses recycled plastics and aluminum in their frames and lenses. They also use sustainable materials like biodegradable cellulose acetate and water-based lacquers in production. Costa Del Mar’s sustainability mission is to reduce their environmental impact while producing high-quality sunglasses.

Norton Point

Norton Point makes classic wayfarer-style sunglasses from recycled ocean plastics and post-consumer recycled materials. For every pair sold, they remove one pound of plastic from oceans and waterways. Norton Point aims to prove that sustainable materials can be used to make stylish, high-quality products.


Sunski uses recycled plastics in their frames and plant-based, renewable materials in their polarized lenses and packaging. They are also carbon neutral, offsetting 100% of their emissions. Sunski’s goal is to make sustainable fashion accessible by keeping prices affordable while using eco-friendly materials and sustainable practices.

Warby Parker

Warby Parker uses cellulose acetate from wood pulp instead of petroleum-based plastics in their frames. Their lenses are made of polycarbonate plastics treated with anti-reflective and anti-scratch coatings that meet environmental standards. Warby Parker aims to offer sustainable and fashionable eyewear at a revolutionary price. For every pair sold, they distribute a pair to someone in need through their Buy a Pair, Give a Pair program.

By choosing sunglasses from brands that prioritize sustainability and eco-friendly practices, you can do your part to reduce waste while protecting your eyes and the environment. Every small step makes a difference, so consider sustainability the next time you shop for shades.

How to Choose Sustainable Sunglasses in 2023

Once your sunglasses have served you well for a few seasons, consider giving them a second life before throwing them out. Many eyewear companies and local organizations now offer recycling programs to keep glasses out of landfills. Brands like Costa Del Mar, Maui Jim, and Oakley will take back any brand of glasses and properly recycle them for you.

Donate or Repurpose

If your old sunglasses are still in good shape, donating them is a great option. Many charities like the Lions Club accept used eyewear and distribute them to people in need. You can also repurpose them into fun craft projects. Turn them into wall art by gluing the lenses onto wooden boards or string the frames together to make a quirky garland.

Recycle the Parts

If the frames or lenses are damaged, remove any reusable parts before recycling the rest. The arms, nose pads, and screws can often be salvaged and donated as spare parts. The metal and plastic frames and lenses should then go into your local recycling bin. Some cities and towns also offer eyewear recycling as part of regular curbside pickup. Check with your waste and recycling department for details on what they accept.

Upcycle Into New Products

Some companies specialize in upcycling used sunglasses into brand new products. For example, Jonas Paul Eyewear collects donated glasses and upcycles the parts into stylish new sunglasses that they sell to fund eye care initiatives. The brand has kept over 1.5 million pairs of glasses out of landfills so far. Other brands repurpose the materials to make things like skateboards, watches, wallets, and more.

Buying sustainable sunglasses and properly recycling your used pairs are two of the best ways you can do your part for the environment. Keeping glasses out of landfills conserves natural resources and reduces pollution. And upcycling turns waste into innovative new products, showing that style and sustainability can go hand in hand. Your old shades still have a bright future ahead.

Roger Sarkis