By Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi
As the summer approaches, so does the desire to go to the seaside. And that’s when you may truly see it for the first time: the plastic pollution issue.
Since it went into mass production only 50 years ago, plastic has been wreaking havoc on our environment. An estimated 299 million tons of plastic were produced in 2013, representing a 4 percent increase over 2012, and confirming and upward trend over the past years, despite increasing concerns about plastic.
Plastic continues to be used because it is versatile, lightweight, flexible, moisture resistant, strong, and relatively inexpensive. However, it’s also full of toxins, and is very slow to biodegrade. It comes in many forms you may not think of: it’s not only in bottles and straws, but also comprises the fibers found in polyester, acrylic and nylon; the lining of coffee cups, tinned food, Tetrapaks and takeaway containers, and many more commercial and consumer products.
Some companies are trying to do something with plastic waste. For example, myriad swimwear brands brand themselves as ‘sustainable’ since they’re transforming beach plastic into swimwear. But this doesn’t address the issue of microfiber pollution: every time you swim or wash your suit, tiny microplastic particles are shed, and enter the waterways. They’re eaten by fish, which we then eat, and are too small to be filtered out of our drinking water.
A better idea for using ocean plastic is to create permanent items that don’t need much washing, like furniture – or sunglasses.
Here, I’ve found five brands making recycled plastic sunglasses from the very stuff we need to get out of our oceans, fast!
5 Brands Making Recycled Plastic Sunglasses
Every year, a whopping 640,000 tonnes of fishing nets are lost or discarded in the ocean. And Cornish entrepreneur Harry Dennis decided to do something about it it: he created a social-enterprise in Cornwall that removes abandoned fishing nets from beaches and marine environments, by recycling the material into sunglass and eyewear frames.
This British brand making recycled plastic sunglasses is inspirational in the way it intercepts and repurposes plastic into eyewear that is literally a wearable symbol for change.
Its name, ‘Waterhaul,’ originates from Newfoundland cod fisheries: it is a term used to describe the act of hauling in a seine or trawl net that is absent of any catch. Retrieving empty nets from the ocean is precisely what the company aims to achieve, modelling its system around a circular economy by buying back your old or damaged frames and recycle these into new sunglasses.
Styles are clean and classic wayfarers, and are also unisex. If you’re interested in trying out a pair of these planet-friendly shades, you’ll get 20% off at checkout with the discount code ELUXE10.
Price: Around £65
We all know and love Stella McCartney for her elegant creations that are kind to animals. The British eco-designer has now broadened her ready-to-wear collections to eyewear, produced with materials of natural and recycled origins in compliance with the eco-sustainable philosophy.
Her sunglasses collection for 2019 features shades made from recycled bottles and biodegradable shoe soles, as well as bio-acetate, which is a combination of cellulose and natural plasticisers, which differ from the more typically used toxic diethyl ketone because it’s derived from citric acid.
Styles on offer include everything from sporty wrap-arounds and square, tinted 60’s styles to ultra-chic cat eye sunglasses.
Price: Around £350
3. Norton Point
This label’s motto is “Let’s clean the ocean, one wave at a time,” and it truly accomplishes that mission: since 2015 Norton Point has been creating sustainable shades using recovered ocean plastic and plant based materials.
The style of their sunglasses is timeless, unisex and classic – their intention is for these accessories to look chic and last for years to come. Norton Point is truly serious about cleaning up the oceans, and even reinvests 5% of their net profits into research, education and development efforts towards stemming the impact of ocean plastic.
The punny name of the brand envelopes its mission to repurpose marine waste, specifically plastic, with the production of eco-friendly eyewear.
Although the brand is ethically made in Italy, it also engages neighbouring countrie by collecting discarded fishing nets in Spanish and French ports – Sea2See places containers in ports for fisherman to deposit their abandoned nets, fishing lines and ropes so they can be recycled into sunglasses.
Rather shockingly, the label manages to collect an average of one ton of waste per day! This all gets transformed into ethical eyewear that is so stylish, it even appeals to celebrities: the Spanish actor and environmentalist, Javier Bardem, is a fan, for example.
Eight-year old eco-entrepreneur Harry Robinson is excellent proof that activism can start at any age. This young boy began cleaning up plastic bottles as a hobby, and thanks to the support of his family, he is transforming them into recycled plastic sunglasses.
Harry’s father, Nick, explained how his family got together at the dinner table and made a business plan that they launched through a Kickstarter campaign. Not only did the Sydney-based family business raise $20,000 in six minutes, but they have also sold nearly 700 pairs of their recycled plastic sunglasses worldwide. Good Citizens further joined forces with an NGO that gathers 45 extra plastic bottles from the ocean for every pair of Good Citizens shades that are sold.
Did you enjoy this post? Want to show your gratitude? Please support us on Patreon!