Almost all sunglasses, even the nicer brands, are made of plastic. While they may reduce harmful exposure to the sun’s rays, their production and inevitable disposal are damaging to the planet. Some designers have tried to green up the sunglasses industry by making frames from wood, often rare tropical woods, but we all know it’s better to leave these trees in the ground whenever possible.
Eco Sunglasses, recent recipient of a Red Dot Design Award, thinks completely outside the forest when it comes to materials. These stylish, functional shades are made from cheaper and faster-growing alternatives like hemp, kenaf, and flax.
Using hemp and flax to form the frames allows the Eco Sunglasses to be crafted through a fairly simple, non-toxic production process. designer Marius Temming was able to deform and adjust the frame with heat, which is not possible if you use wood only. A clip made from bio plastic (which is available in different colors works as a hinge, allowing the user to change the appearance of their glasses quickly. According to the designer, this gives allows the more fashion-conscious wearer to modify a single pair of glasses to match their current outfit, rather than buying multiple pairs.
But it isn’t only the end user’s health that should be protected when making a fashion product, says Temming. The use of bioresin (a nontoxic resin made from at least 65 percent natural-origin materials) and high quality lenses by Carl Zeiss Vision ensure that those assembling the glasses are protected from toxins as well. He also envisions a closed-loop system in which broken glasses can be sent back for free, with a discount available on a new pair, and the remnants recycled into jewelry or be pressed into cases for new glasses.