11 Sustainable Sunglasses for Eco Friendly Eye Safety & Style
Summer…long, bright days—and the perfect weather to shed some light on sustainable sunglasses.
Mainstream eyewear is littered (literally) with virgin plastic, breakable designs, and unethical practices that make us squint more than the sun.
Enter: sustainable sunglasses brands who are shielding our eyes from more than just UVA rays.
Take a shaded look at Just Human and their answer to the question, “What are eco friendly sunglasses made of?”; totally natural materials down to the mineral glass lenses, that’s what.
While Sunski opts for upcycled plastic diverted from landfill to your frames.
And styles are abundant with Warby Parker’s impressive variety of men’s and women’s sustainable sunglasses.
Before scanning these eco friendly sunglasses companies we caution: do not look directly into the sustainability.
But if you do want to look closer at how we define eco friendly sunglasses, turn your gaze to the end of the brand list.
*This post contains affiliate links
Sunski’s Sustainable Sunglasses USA
Sunski’s sustainable sunnies (try saying that three times fast) are made of SuperLight recycled plastic frames.
The plastic used to produce the fair trade sunglasses frames is locally sourced from US landfills and made in the US, too.
They’re so confident in the durability of the frames that they come with a lifetime warranty.
Sunski recognizes that sometimes stuff happens to lenses. Rather than see you throw away a perfectly good pair of sunglasses because of a scratched or broken lens, they offer a lens replacement service for all their frames.
All sustainable sunglasses for men and women are shipped glue and plastic-free, in folded paperboard origami boxes.
Like many other sustainable sunglasses manufacturers, Sunski is a member of 1% for the Planet.
Unlike others, however, they go above and beyond the 1% call and donate 12% of profits to various environmental initiatives (without charging their customers an arm and a leg).
They also purchase carbon offsets for their operating procedures to earn a Carbon Neutral certification.
2. WARBY PARKER
Warby Parker’s Sustainable Sunglasses
Warby Parker creates stylish designs for Fortune-500s and fashionistas alike, all the while at an affordable price tag.
Most frames are made using Italian plant cellulose acetate. For thinner frames, they use ultralight easily recyclable titanium, stainless steel, or bronze.
They are then fitted with polycarbonate impact-resistant lenses. Choose between standard or sustainable prescription sunglasses (in single vision, progressive, and reader options).
Because there are oh-so-many cute eco friendly sunglasses, they offer a “home try-on” where you can try on five styles at home and send back what you don’t want.
While it may help avoid buying something you won’t wear, it does add shipping emissions.
About Warby Parker
Warby Parker is New York City-based with global operations. Founders Dave Gilboa and Neil Blumenthal consider product quality and supply chain ethics as a top company priority.
They regularly third-party audit their suppliers and factories.
A few years back, they started calculating their carbon footprint. Now they purchase offsets for all company operations (which includes employee commuting).
You can read more in their Global Reporting Initiative impact report.
Their static charitable initiative is the “Buy a Pair, Give a Pair” program, through which they have donated over four million pairs of glasses in over 50 countries through non-profits like VisionSpring, Ver Bien, and Aravind.
Other charity partnerships change periodically and by collection.
Available: Warby Parker
Proof Eyewear’s Ethical Sustainable Sunglasses
Proof Eyewear offer an impressive range of sustainable sunglasses for women and men.
They use a variety of biodegradable materials, like recycled skateboards decks, recycled aluminum, FSC-certified sustainably-sourced wood (including bamboo, lacewood, ebony, and mahogany), and biodegradable cotton-based acetate for their ECO line (short for Environmentally Conscious Optics).
Each pair is designed for disassembly so you can recycle or compost with ease.
They’re all handmade and finished with stainless steel hinges, polycarbonate lenses, and come with an eco friendly sunglasses case made of sustainably sourced wood.
About Proof Eyewear
Proof Eyewear was founded by 3 brothers in Boise, Idaho.
They now have global suppliers, who they visit twice a year to ensure ethical standards are up to snuff (especially their acetate supplier in China).
They invite you to read all about their Supplier Responsibility.
Over the years, Proof has donated 12% of its profits to various global aid “Do Good Projects”, like providing vision screenings and cataract surgeries to those in need.
They also donate glasses, reusable menstrual pads, and their time, as well as plant five trees through Eden Reforestation Projects for every pair purchased.
Pela’s Sustainable Sunglasses Canada
Their selection of “Eyewear for People Who Care” features 100% recycled frames made from the likes of recycled phone cases and ocean-bound plastic.
The polycarbonate CAT 3 UV400 lenses provide full UVA/UVB protection and can be swapped with blue light lenses.
From sustainable cat eye sunglasses to the San Fran Slim, Pela has something for everyone.
What’s more, each pair produces 33% fewer CO2 emissions, uses 34% less water, and produces 84% less waste compared to traditional acrylic sunglasses.
As with their phone cases (and all the best eco friendly sunglasses), theirs can be recycled at end-of-life through the Pela 360 program.
Certified B Corp Pela made a name for itself by creating the “world’s first compostable phone case”.
Little did the world know flax straw phone cases were only the beginning.
Most products are manufactured locally in Canada while select ones, eyewear included, are ethically made in South China.
After calculating and offsetting their emissions, they became Climate Neutral certified.
Pela is also a member of 1% for the Planet, through which they have donated over half a million dollars to organizations like Save the Waves and other large and grassroots initiatives alike.
5. JUST HUMAN
Just Human’s Environmentally Friendly Sunglasses
Just Human believes sunglasses should last a lifetime, not a season.
To encourage just that, they create classic styles—cat eye, round, square, and eco friendly aviator sunglasses—with a modern twist.
Rather than designating women’s and men’s sustainable sunglasses, their unisex styles fit “faces not gender”.
Each frame is made from FSC-certified reforested softwood trees.
Under the belief that we should never sacrifice sight for style, these 100% plastic free sunglasses were also designed with eye health in mind.
That’s why the mineral glass lenses ease eye strain and reduce glare and distortion, as well as block UVA, UVB, and blue light. They’re also more scratch and heat-resistant than traditional lenses .
About Just Human
We’re all just human, but collectively, the difference we can make is huge— choosing a simple pair of environmentally sustainable sunglasses for example can be a start.
Just Human is here to help with that.
Aside from low-impact products, they use zero waste manufacturing for their lenses, which are recyclable and made of sand and mineral glass. That means any lens shavings can be recycled back into new lenses.
Each pair of sustainable wood sunglasses comes complete with a vegan leather case made from pineapple leaves and a microfiber cleaning cloth made from recycled plastic bottles.
Inspired by Japanese origami, the outer packaging is minimal, made of 100% recycled materials, and finished with eco inks and compostable tree pulp tape.
Available: Just Human
Szade’s Sustainable Recycled Sunglasses
What are eco friendly sunglasses made of?
In Szade’s case, their sustainable recycled sunglasses are made of, well…recycled sunglasses!
The frames and arms feature post-consumer recycled polycarbonate sourced from landfill-bound sunglasses in China.
The lenses are made of the highest grade of impact-resistant polycarbonate available.
And at under $100, they’re one of the most affordable sustainable sunglasses as Szade strives to be “a brand for everyone”.
Shop by color or occasion, including coast, party, festival, staples, classic, and rave—which says a lot about the general funky vibe of these non-binary sustainable shades.
It all begins at Szade’s design studio in Melbourne, Australia.
Not only is it located in a repurposed chocolate factory, but it runs partially on solar energy. The rest is powered by their local Cityswitch energy efficiency program.
This studio also recycles or composts (in an on-site worm farm) 90% of its waste and reuses or minimizes materials as much as possible.
Beyond that, China is where they both source the recycled sunglasses and manufacture them anew in a GRS-certified facility. This helps keep their supply chain emissions minimal.
Each pair of eco friendly recycled sunglasses comes shipped in plastic free, recycled materials.
Woodzee’s Sustainable Wood Sunglasses
Woodzee specializes in eco friendly wood sunglasses that come in a wide range of styles and prices to suit most budgets.
They make everything from eco friendly wayfarer sunglasses to sustainable cat eye sunglasses using either bamboo or recycled wood from old skateboard decks.
To compost, just pop out the polycarbonate or CR-39 polarized lenses and unscrew the stainless steel spring-loaded hinges.
For more design choices, they have Italian acetate options, though we’d recommend shopping the recycled wooden frames.
Each pair comes with a recycled paper case.
If you’re going to use your eco friendly sunglasses for travel, you can order a durable wooden case for added protection.
This USA sustainable recycled sunglasses brand comes from the woodsy orchard fields of Chico, California, and derives inspiration from their local beautiful redwood forests and Joshua tree deserts.
Sustainable forestry is near and dear to them, hence the focus on wood, for both their sunglasses and watches.
They offer a sunglasses recycling program too, so customers can return their worn out Woodzee shades and receive 50% off their next pair.
8. ZONI WEAR
Zoni Wear’s Affordable Sustainable Sunglasses
Zoni Wear creates sustainable polarized sunglasses “built for the adventurer”.
If you’re looking for a pair to suit your ethical activewear, these sport-ready colorful polarized UV400 lenses coupled with flex hinges are on-point.
Zoni combines recycled wood temples (made from either Grade-A reclaimed bamboo, ebony wood, zebrawood, or skateboard decks) with a tortoise acetate lens frame.
If you want custom eco friendly sunglasses request a personalized laser engraving on the temple.
Personalized wooden cases are available too.
As the #1 Best Quality Sunglasses on Etsy (with thousands of rave reviews), buyers love this brand, for being easy on the planet and also on your sustainable wallet.
About Zoni Wear
Founder Corey Shore started Zoni Wear out of a college dorm room in Spain. The company now bases itself out of Portsmouth, New Hampshire to make a wooden collection of sunglasses, hats, watches, and cufflinks.
Everything is designed and handmade in the USA, meaning these are as close to fair trade sunglasses as you can get without the official seal.
They source most of the reclaimed wood from the high-quality Driftwood Studio in London.
5% from each purchase is donated, and you get to choose where from a list of environmental organizations, including American Forests, Ocean Conservancy, Coral Reef Alliance, Sierra Club, and American Rivers.
Available: Zoni Wear
9. PEEP EYEWEAR
Peep Eyewear’s Sustainable Sunglasses UK
The best sustainable sunglasses are those already in existence just like the upcycled vintage sunglasses from Peep Eyewear.
They feature newly replaced UVA/UVB protective lenses and fully refurbished frames, complete with cleaning cloths made of 100% recycled PET plastic bottles.
They select standout designs and provide a one-of-a-kind product that diverts landfill waste by giving a second life to unwanted sunglasses.
Not looking to buy new sunglasses?
Peep is still worth a peruse since they offer a reglazing (for changed prescriptions) and refurbishing service.
Through their Peep Polish restoration service, they’ll remove scratches and wear marks from any brand of sunglasses or prescription glasses.
About Peep Eyewear
Peep is a family run business that’s “big on detail, small on mundane”.
Their studio in Quorn, England is built entirely from salvaged windows, doors, and thrift furniture. It’s powered by a renewable energy supplier (though they’re hoping to go self-sufficient solar soon).
Their boxes and shipping filler are made of FSC-certified recycled paperboard and recycled paper tape (with only a little tetra recycled plastic tape if necessary).
They go further to protect trees and partner with Trees for Cities to plant a tree for every pair of glasses sold.
Available: Peep Eyewear
Swell’s Sustainable Bamboo Sunglasses
Swell is a big fan of bamboo so much so that they specialize in eco friendly bamboo sunglasses.
They also use it for their environmentally friendly sunglasses cases.
While some frames are 100% sustainably-sourced bamboo, some styles use acetate accents at the temples.
The lenses are taking a step toward sustainability too, made of TAC (triacetate cellulose) with a CR39 polarized resin finished.
They’re not compostable, but they are getting closer to more sustainable polarized sunglasses.
Talk about setting your sights high. Swell Vision was founded by a student… in high school no less.
Founder Mitchell Saum is a true visionary. He makes not just sunglasses but bamboo watches and apparel.
They’re based in South Carolina but give globally through their partner, Green School, where they help underprivileged Balinese children attend school tuition-free. Every pair sold funds two weeks of schooling.
The Green School is a pretty swell concept too. It’s a non-profit specifically designed to create leaders in the green movement, and the curriculum is largely sustainability-driven.
Available: Swell Vision
11. SOLO EYEWEAR
SOLO Eyewear’s Environmentally Friendly Sunglasses
SOLO Eyewear makes three non toxic sunglasses collections using: repurposed bamboo, ethical Italian cellulose acetate, and repurposed wood.
The latter collection of ethical sustainable sunglasses utilizes sustainably reclaimed woods like cork, zebrawood, walnut, and blackwood. A couple of the designs feature a stainless steel frame component, too.
All lenses are prescription friendly and polarized with 100% UV protection.
If you’re on a budget, every pair is under $100 which makes them one of the more affordable sustainable sunglasses brands.
They’re all handmade, even the wooden cases, which they source from female artists in Panajachel, Guatemala.
About SOLO Eyewear
SOLO Eyewear started as a San Diego State University class project for Jenny Amaraneni and Dana Holliday. Now, these visionary ladies have been featured in Forbes, Time, and Good Morning America.
The inspiration behind this sustainable sunglasses brand was learning that 80% of blindness is preventable, and 1 billion people lack access to vision care.
So far, the vision of over 15,000 people in 32 countries has been restored.
Every design is named after a country to which the proceeds from that sale are donated.
While materials are sourced globally, they use an American auditing company to ensure every part of the supply chain maintains workplace health and safety practices.
Pair these with some new-to-you clothing from one of the best thrifts stores in San Diego and you’ll be repping Cali-Chic style pronto.
Available: SOLO Eyewear
WHAT MAKES THE BEST SUSTAINABLE SUNGLASSES
First things first: what are sustainable sunglasses?
Well, ideally, sustainable sunglasses include materials that are compostable (or at the very least recyclable). Bonus points if they used recycled materials to begin with, rather than virgin-sourced.
Still, we need a bit more of a framework for what we consider to be the best eco friendly sunglasses. They can be made from either biodegradable materials or recycled synthetics.
What are biodegradable sunglasses?
They feature materials like:
- Bamboo: It’s no secret we love bamboo and it’s so versatile! It’s one of the fastest-growing plants on earth, it makes sunglasses compostable, ultra strong, moisture resistant, lightweight, and they’ll even float.
- Recycled skateboards or reclaimed wood
- Sustainably-sourced hardwoods
On the recycled side, we have primarily recycled plastics.
While these may not be biodegradable, they’re using plastics already in existence that would otherwise end up in landfills or oceans. Better on our face than wrapped around some poor turtle.
We also shouldn’t discount metal frames (stainless steel, aluminum, and titanium) because these materials are fully recyclable.
Then we have bioplastics (most notably cellulose acetate) which is where things get eco-convoluted.
What is cellulose acetate and is it sustainable?
Click on the ink for our deep-dive or peruse the summary of the issue below.
Acetate is a glossy, transparent petroleum polymer (very similar to rayon viscose). Cellulose acetate mimics its plastic counterpart but is made from natural cotton fibers or wood pulp.
It’s totally renewable and theoretically biodegradable.
Cellulose acetate is ideal for glasses because it’s easy to color, lightweight, and molds with heat (to fit your face).
However, it requires chemicals—acetic acid, acetic anhydride, and sulfuric acid—to turn the plant pulp into the polymer.
All are dangerous and corrosive if not handled and disposed of properly, so a poorly managed manufacturing plant could cause pollution and expose workers to a harmful environment.
Some manufacturers add phthalate-laden plasticizers to it, which negates any eco-friendly qualities of the material.
Lastly, there’s no ideal end of life disposal here. While it’s theoretically biodegradable, how long it takes is unclear, but this report suggests it’s too long to be certified biodegradable.
Some companies are creating Highly Biodegradable Cellulose Acetate but biodegradability depends on the exact makeup of that particular acetate.
Technically it can also be recycled with wood fibers (if there aren’t any added plasticizers), but if you toss it in curbside recycling, it’ll likely get mistaken as plastic and sorted out.
The best solution is to either donate cellulose acetate sunglasses for reuse or recycle them with the eyewear company.
All in all, cellulose acetate can be eco-friendly under the following conditions:
- It’s made with organic cotton or sustainably harvested tree pulp.
- It’s 100% bio-based, so no added plasticizers (Italy’s Mazzucchelli doesn’t add any, FYI).
- It’s made by a reputable manufacturer with workplace safety and proper chemical disposal systems in place. Italian cellulose acetate is widely considered the trusted eco gold standard, mostly due to Europe’s strict REACH chemical standards. This means we get non toxic sunglasses, too.
Let’s Talk Lenses
Unfortunately, most environmentally friendly sunglasses are not fully compostable yet because sustainable lens technology doesn’t quite have the same framework.
Most are made of polycarbonate, a type of plastic that is recyclable but requires a specialized facility.
Though some experimental options (namely TAC – or triacetate cellulose) are starting to be used, most lenses these days are made of either polycarbonate or CR39 polarized plastic resin.
That’s why you always need to remove the lenses before disposing of the frame.
Neither are recyclable curbside and require special municipal facilities. Some of the best sustainable sunglasses brands will offer lens recycling services.
The best option is to put the good old “glass” in “sunglasses”.
Glass has gone out of style because it’s more fragile and heavier, but it’s the most sustainable sunglasses lens material out there.
Thankfully, a few companies are bringing glass back from the past, like Just Human’s sand-based mineral glass. Like glass, it’s fully recyclable but can also be produced via a zero waste production method.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON SUSTAINABLE SUNGLASSES BRANDS
Protecting our eyes is important, but so is protecting the planet.
Fortunately, with these sustainable sunglasses brands, you don’t have to choose between the two.
But before choosing a new pair of cute eco friendly sunglasses, see if you can repair your old ones first.
Or think vintage or used sunglasses, especially if you’re after bespoke frames.
If you can’t find secondhand sunnies, then consider supporting one of these sustainable sunglasses companies who are a bright spot in a shady industry.