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Sunglasses are usually purchased for UV protection or as a stylish accessory. Though both are great reasons to buy a pair of sunglasses, conventional sunglasses unnecessarily contribute to plastic pollution.

Luckily, recycled materials are ideal for constructing sunglasses because only small pieces of material are needed to make them. At the time of a global plastic waste crisis, it’s exciting and inspiring to see the number of sustainable sunglasses now available that provide great protection and look amazing.

Made from various recycled materials, ranging from skateboard wood to fishing nets, you’ll want at least one pair of the cool shades below with you on your next vacation.

The Best Eco-friendly Sunglasses in 2020

1. Zeal Optics Windsor

Plant based polarized sunglasses for men and women from Zeal Optics

Zeal Optics is one of the more popular and beloved eco-friendly sunglasses brands. They manufacture high-quality eyewear using plant-based materials that result in a reduced amount of carbon dioxide production.

The polarized lenses block 100% of UV rays, eliminates glare and increase the balance of saturation you see. Along with its distinctive shape and keyhole bridge, rubber highlights the temples and nose areas for added function and style. Lightweight and ultra-cool, this pair of glasses is ready for an adventure.

2. Dex Shades Polarized Wayfarer Wood Sunglasses

Handmade sustainably produced from Dex shades

By using recycled skateboard wood for their frames, each pair of glasses are lightweight, durable and have a wood grain variation that gives them their own unique style and look.

Eye care is covered with 100% UVA/UVB protection thanks to the polarized lenses and you will never lose them in the water because they float! To protect your eyewear, the company includes a stylish and durable bamboo case.

3. Sunski Recycled Plastic Sunglasses

Durable sunglasses for men and women from Sunski

A round lens and colorful frame design define the Makani by Sunski. The blonde tortoise shell plastic frame is made from recycled polycarbonate plastic, making for a superlight pair of shades. Polarized blue lenses offer 100% UV protection and reduce both eye strain and glare.

Sunski is serious about protecting the environment, packing sunglasses into plastic-free, recycled packaging and donating 1% of their sales to environmental nonprofits.

4. 4EST Shades Wood Sunglasses

Polarized shaded that float from 4EAST Shades

Handcrafted from maple wood, these unique wayfarers have a frame design that has been etched into the wood, providing you with a pair of head-turning shades with a level of craftsmanship not often seen.

Get optimal protection with UV 400 polarized lens and a sustainable bamboo protective case. Not only does the company produce eco sunglasses, they also are a sunglasses brand that promotes sustainability, planting two trees for every pair of sunglasses purchased.

5. Wildwood Polarized Sunglasses for Kids

Recycled frames and beech wood arms kids polarized sunglasses

A classic wayfarer shape is designed with stylish updates that make these kids sunglasses totally on trend. Eco-friendly and highly functional, the polycarbonate frames and polarized lenses are made from recycled plastic and the arms are made from beech wood.

Armed with UV400 tri acetate cellulose (TAC), the scratch-resistant lenses offer superior clarity and block 100% of UVA/UVB rays. Available in pink and blue, kids will love how light, comfortable and cool they are.

6. BioSunnies Biodegradable Sunglasses

Biodegradable sunglasses for men and women from BioSunnies

Some of the most affordable eco-friendly sunglasses on the market, they are made from wheat straw and colored with a plant-based dye.

The biodegradable frame, which is flexible yet nearly unbreakable, can be composted and the eco-friendly polarized lenses, which provide full UV protection, can be recycled. The classic frame is great for men and women and is available in 5 different colors.

7. EKO Wood Aviator Sunglasses

Eco-friendly wood glasses from EKO Wood

Sustainable eyewear does not have to break the bank. For cheap eco-friendly sunglasses, these aviators are a great choice.

Sustainable wood arms add style and sophistication to the popular aviator shape and the metal frame – available in gold or silver – adds a cool factor. Polarized polycarbonate lenses guarantee 100% UV protection and the lightweight design ensures a comfortable fit.

A Guide to Buying Eco-Friendly Sunglasses

Sunglasses are worn by people all over the world. They are such a common item, most people probably own 2 or 3 pair, but the plastic used to make them is only harming the planet.

Thankfully eco-friendly alternatives are finding their way to streets and beaches everywhere. Here’s what you need to know about buying a sustainable pair of glasses.

1. What makes a sunglasses brand eco-friendly?

Eco-friendly eyewear brands create environmentally-conscious sunglasses using sustainable materials and ethical practices. Though there is no hard and fast rule, they tend to:

  • Have an environment-based mission. These companies want to take responsibility for the environment and go above and beyond to ensure that they are using resources efficiently and fully.
  • Commit to something more. Companies that care about the environment rarely are satisfied with simply selling eyeglasses. They want to do their share to fix things or help local communities in need. A few examples are planting trees for the sale of a product, committing to removing a certain number of plastic bottles from the ocean or donating sunscreen to families who can’t afford it.

2. Eco-friendly alternatives to plastic

There are a number of materials that are being used in place of plastic. Each helps the environment in a different way while offering its own sense of style.

Recycled materials

Since there is a lot of plastic already floating around the world, sunglasses made from recycled plastic do a lot for the planet. Groundbreaking companies are creating sunglasses from our oceans’ plastic waste, but it doesn’t end there.

Recycled wood, fishing nets, leather, vinyl records, aluminum and even wheat are used to produce the sunglasses and recyclable cases. With recycled sunglasses, you are creating no extra waste and will also have the opportunity to get your hands on some of the most innovative designs (especially when recycled skateboard decks are used).

Wood & bamboo sunglasses

Just because they’re made of wood doesn’t mean they’re environmentally friendly sunglasses. Wooden shades sometimes use hardwoods like Zebra wood or Rosewood – materials seriously on the edge of extinction.

Wooden sunglasses have the unique quality of floating and tend to be more lightweight than other types. Bamboo, more than any other type of wood, is especially sustainable because it grows so quickly and produces more oxygen than a similar group of trees.

Bioplastic sunglasses

Bioplastics are biodegradable materials made from renewable sources; glasses with acetate frames fall into this category.

The advantage of using them is that they only release the amount of carbon dioxide they’ve absorbed (they are C02-netural). Even if they end up in nature, they decompose faster than plastic and often contain little to no harmful additives.

Support Eco-Conscious Eyewear

Once you see a sustainable pair of sunglasses, it’s hard to justify purchasing any other kind. Ranging in style, price and materials, these eco-friendly sunglasses are innovative, cool and a great way for concerned consumers to put the environment first.