We live in an age of corporate responsibility. Whether born in the socially conscious ’60s or coming into adulthood as a Millennial, consumers increasingly base their purchasing decisions with companies who give back and prioritize the environment. Eyewear companies are heeding the call with the use of eco-friendly frame materials. “It is now proven that in the long term, companies that stand behind something that goes beyond just a product develop a stronger and more lasting relationship with their customers,” explains Modo Eyewear Founder Alessandro Lanaro. Greater frame choices in wood, bamboo, plant-based, and other sustainable materials follow this significant trend to reduce waste and protect the earth.

This month, Charmant USA rolls out awear (pronounced aware) with seven fashion-forward ophthalmic and two sun styles for men and women as well as unisex styles in sustainable materials that result in a reduction in CO2 emissions, according to Director of Marketing Michele Ziss. The material inherently features a high-chemical resistance, eliminating the need for typical spray coating, which reduces water usage in production. The hand-assembled temples decrease energy consumption.

Another company focusing on sustainability and preservation causes, Costa, implemented its #KickPlastic campaign phase 2: a complete conversion from petroleum-based plastic resins to bio-based ones. Costa’s bio-based resins are a higher grade, rendering them more durable in extreme heat and colder temperature ranges. “The transition from cold to hot and vice versa, plus extended temperature performance, really suits our customer base for how they use our products,” explains John Sanchez, Vice President of Product Development. Costa’s bio-resin material frames are molded so they will not lose form. “They are durable, resistant to cosmetics, oils, sweat, and at the same time are cosmetically beautiful pieces,” says Sanchez.

The Kids by Safilo collection is also made entirely from bio-based materials, Zeal Optics’ kind-to-the-planet sunglasses are derived from a plant-based resin from the castor oil bean, and the SMITH Evolve series touts itself as the “world’s largest eco-friendly sunglass collection.” Morgenthal Frederics has made a name for itself using the pricey but utterly eco-friendly buffalo horn; Seraphin by Ogi Eyewear also offers styles in buffalo horn.

Modo Eyewear’s Earth-Conscious Optics (ECO) uses recycled stainless steel and repurposed plastic while its expanded Eco 2.0 collection called Eco Born Biobased has been manufactured from castor seeds, a highly sustainable plant. The material is very light, flexible and offers a “beautiful matte transparent finish,” according to Lanaro, in a variety of colors. All the packaging and marketing materials are also made of recycled materials- the case is made of recycled plastic bottles and P-O-P materials are recycled paper. Moreover, Modo ships everything flat to reduce environmental impact. “We very much believe that business and sustainability go hand in hand,” Lanaro says.

The folks at SPY couldn’t agree more. The vendor’s rECOmpose collection is made with Plantate, an organically based material made from plant polysaccharides that can be recycled and composted. This year, the company continues collaborating with Non Toxic Revolution for a snow goggle, Protect Our Winters (also for a snow goggle), and the Surfrider Foundation sunglass.

Backed with a cotton fiber and wood pulp composite substrate, the wood frames crafted by Sire’s Crown come in 14 styles and several sizes. Since the product is made expressly for each wearer, the amount of waste is minimal. “Since we do not mass manufacture, we never have hundreds of products ending up in the trash can or flooding the market at 75% off,” explains Owner CJ Thomason, who says that his nature-loving company is developing a biodegradable line in the near future.

WooDone has been making its one-of-a-kind, handcrafted, adjustable wooden fronts and temples since 2011. A special process allows the optician to make any adjustments necessary, according to Jeff Stern, U.S. Director of Sales and Operations, while screwless flex hinges are produced from a special, long-lasting alloy. The final lacquering with a non-toxic EC-certified transparent varnish—also used for children’s wood toys—completes the frame, making it hypoallergenic, ultra-resistant to makeup and sweat, and super easy to clean. The final product weighs in at just 13 grams.

New for this year, WooDone’s Nature collection is dominated by the beauty of roses, violets and hay. The company operates within the manufacturing philosophy of the “triple zero effect”: zero emissions, zero energy, and zero km (miles for us Americans). The German-made, handcrafted collection Herrlict, which has been around since 2005, rolls out five new wood new styles, and all collections are manufactured in a plant that utilitizes 100% recycled electricity. “The wood used for the glasses is either walnut, maple, cherry or fumed oak, each with its typical color and texture,” explains Designer Andreas Licht. “Not only does the material have warmth, flexibility, and uniqueness, it is also sustainable and eco-friendly. And such a frame is not a mass product: every one has its own story to tell, much like the rings of a tree.”

As more companies seek to create sustainable, recyclable, and/or biodegradable eyewear, both wearers and the environment will emerge as
winners. Costa’s Sanchez is staying optimistic about the industry making positive changes: “We hope all companies would look at their own processes and look for ways they can contribute to more sustainable manufacturing efforts.”

Michele Silver is managing editor of VCPN.

Charmant Group
800.645.2121 •

Costa 800.447.3700 •


Modo Eyewear 800.223.7610 •

Morgenthal Frederics 212.404.5708 •

Ogi Eyewear 888.560.1060 •

Safilo 800.631.1188 •

Sire’s Crown 323.400-5796 •

SMITH 888.206.2995 •

SPY 800.779.3937 •


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