If you’re an environmentally conscious consumer in need of a new pair of glasses, you’ll probably be interested in some tips on how to meet your vision needs without destroying the earth in the process. Here are a few ways to get green eyes:
Eco-Friendly Eyewear Companies
The 21st century has seen an explosion in companies devoted to sustainability. Picking up on growing demand for eco-friendly goods, many frame manufacturers are starting to make frames made from Earth-friendly materials such as recycled plastic or bamboo. One company that’s been doing this the longest is Gold and Wood.
|Image by S. Diddy|
Frames can also be made out of a wide variety of recycled materials, and some companies are taking it to the extreme. Frames made out of recycled beer bottles, old vinyl records, and even recycled bicycles can be bought in many cities if you take the time to look. Those are just options for frames. What about lenses?
Teklite and Airwear Lenses
With over 90% of their leftover plastic from their injection mold lens-making stage being sent off to be recycled in toys and cars, the Teklite company is one of the first lens manufacturers to really focus on going green. The company uses recyclable and biodegradable shipping materials instead of plastic bubble wrap in addition to recycling their excess lens material. Teklite also participates in a charity lens re-purposing program, since current technology is unable to recycle lens materials.
The big boys are going green too: Essilor, the world’s largest lens manufacturer, recently reintroduced their Airwear brand lenses with an environmental focus. Made with 100% recycled water and packaging, these lenses can also be a great green alternative. They too support Lions Club charity to help re-purpose your old eyeglasses for charity. Ask your eye doctor about using either of these for your next pair of glasses.
Re-Lens Your Present Frame if You Simply Need New Lenses
Teklite isn’t the only company re-purposing eyewear components. Many places will happily put new lenses in your old frame. This option isn’t just environmentally friendly, it can also save you money, especially if your frames are expensive. Re-lensing services can be found both online and locally. If you’re into the funky, cool, and retro, another option is having new lenses put into a vintage pair of glasses you find and your local thrift store or online.
Donate Your Old Glasses to Charity
In some developing nations, the cost of a pair of glasses exceeds three months worth of wages. In response to this situation, several charities have been formed to meet the optical needs of people in the two-thirds world. LensCrafters, Goodwill, and the Lions Club all have glasses “drop-off” stations throughout the United States where old glasses that are still functional can be donated. These programs not only help out the disadvantaged and prevent unnecessary waste by creating new pairs of glasses, but participating in one of these programs can save you money. If you make sure to get and save a receipt on your donation, the IRS will let you write the value of the glasses off on your taxes.
Environmentally Friendly Contact Lenses
According to the Washington Post, the amount of plastic waste that results from contact lenses is insignificant compared to the overall amount of plastic waste the average person generates in a year. That said, those who are “every single ounce counts” people might be be interested to know that after factoring in things like plastic cleaning bottles, daily disposable lenses generate around 953 grams of plastic, metal, and paper waste per year, whereas monthly disposables generate around 549 grams per year. If you have unopened, unexpired contact lenses you don’t need, consider donating them to Madre, a New York based charity.
So, there are many ways for those who want to be able to see clearly to keep the environment in mind. An interesting final question raised by the Green Lantern over at the Washington Post is whether or not Lasik surgery might be the most environmentally friendly option of all. The answer to that question at present is unknown, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see a clever ophthalmologist advertising their services and pleading just that case sometime in the near future.