In need of a new pair of sunglasses? Here’s my guide to the best eco-friendly sunglasses for 2022including the brands made from recycled materials, and those made of renewable resources.

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When the sun has its hat on, there are a few things I always do. Firstly, I slap on some eco-friendly sunscreen, and then I pop on some sunglasses. However, forget the plastic frames. Sunglasses have come a long way. Now you can find eco-friendly sunglasses made from recycled materials or made from renewable resources. Some sunglasses brands also offer closed-loop recycling schemes for when your sunglasses bite the dust.

What To Look For When Shopping For Sustainable Sunglasses

Sunglasses next to wicker bag and green leaf, with blue text box that reads the best eco-friendly sunglasses for every outdoor adventure.

There have been a lot of sustainable innovations when it comes to sunglasses. To help you out here are the key things to look for when shopping for new ethical sunglasses:

Bio-Acetate

Glasses frames are generally made from a lightweight yet hard-wearing material called cellulose acetate. This is made from a mix of cotton and/or wood pulp and plastic derived from petroleum-based sources.

Many brands are moving away from traditional cellulose acetate for their frames and switching to a material called bio-acetate. Here, petroleum-based plastic is replaced with renewable plant oils, such as castor seed oil. This makes a more eco-friendly sunglasses frame, with all the same properties that cellulose acetate has, but without the fossil fuel input.

It’s important to bear in mind that bio-acetate, whilst plant-based, is still a plastic. It is considered biodegradable but it requires industrial composting facilities to do so.

Recycled Plastic

Bio-acetate sunglasses tend to come in at a higher price point. However, if you are looking for sustainable eye protection on a smaller budget then you can look for brands making their frames from recycled plastic. This helps you to stick with your sustainability credentials, without having to use virgin plastic.

Recycled Metal

Alongside recycled plastic, many sunglasses brands make either their frames and/or their metal components from recycled metal.

Guide To The Best Eco-Friendly Sunglasses

Now you know what to look out for, here are my top picks for sustainable sunnies:

Bird Eyewear

Bird*, the UK’s first B-Corp Certified eyewear brand in the UK, creates stylish eco-friendly sunglasses from sustainable materials. This includes FSC-certified wood, bio-based acetate made from wood pulp, and recycled aluminium.

The health of your eyes is also strongly considered. With UV400 protection, this means that Bird’s sunglasses can filter out up to 99% of harmful UVA and UVB rays that can damage your eyes. This is slightly higher than what both the CE Mark and British Standards require for eye protection.

Bird also considers the life cycle of their sunglasses. When your sunglasses reach the end of their life, it is useful to know that Bird has its own closed-loop recycling programme. Send your old Bird glasses back to Bird for recycling, and you get £40 off your next order.

Bird has even considered those little extra sustainable touches. Bird’s cleaning cloths are made from recycled plastic bottles. Their cases are made from renewable cork. And what’s more, your new glasses arrive in reusable, recyclable and biodegradable packaging. 

The benefits of Bird’s sunglasses don’t stop there. Bird operates a buy one, give one model. This means that for every pair of Bird sunglasses sold, a solar light is given to a family in Zambia or Malawi. This is administered in partnership with SolarAid, a charity dedicated to combating both poverty and climate change. 

Why solar lights? According to Solar Aid, 598 million people in Africa don’t have access to electricity at home. Instead, they rely on fossil fuel-burning lamps. These are a poor source of light, give off toxic smoke, are hazardous, and are costly to run. Replacing these lamps with solar-powered alternatives has many benefits for families, whilst saving carbon emissions.

Pros

🕶️ A wide range of stylish frames for men and women is available.

♻️ Made from renewable and recyclable materials, which can be recycled via the closed-loop scheme.

☀️ Excellent UVA and UVB shielding.

✔️ Independently verified as a B-Corp –  demonstrating high social and environmental performance.

👍 Gives back to charity

Cons

💰 At around £100 a pair, these are expensive – especially if you are prone to losing sunglasses.

Browse the Bird Eyewear range at Social Supermarket*, priced from £89.

CHPO Eco-Friendly Sunglasses

Person wearing CHPO recycled plastic sunglasses.

If you are on a tight budget or are a serial loser of sunglasses, then the Swedish brand CHPO* offers stylish eco-friendly sunglasses for men and women on a budget.

Made from 100% recycled plastic you can look good without costing the earth. What’s more, you don’t have to compromise on protection. CHPO’s glasses offer UV400 protection from the sun’s rays.

CHPO takes a strong social stand for an equal society without racism, homophobia and hatred against women. As a part of its Made for Everywhere scheme, CHPO collaborates every season with different non-profit or charity organisations. Here 100% of the profits are donated to these causes.

Pros

🕶️ A wide range of stylish frames for men and women is available.

♻️ Made from recycled materials.

💰 More affordable price point.

👍 Gives back to charity and supports social justice.

☀️ Excellent UVA and UVB shielding.

Cons

♻️ No recycling scheme.

🛡️ The pouch may not offer great protection. You may need to buy a separate case for them.

Browse the CHPO range on Amazon* or at Sancho’s, with prices starting from £20.

Grech & Co Recycled Sunglasses for Kids

grech and co eco-friendly kids sunglasses

If you are looking for eco-friendly sunglasses for kids, then Grech & Co’s recycled sunglasses*. These stylish, retro-inspired children’s glasses are made from recycled plastic, for a lower impact.

This European-American label, founded in Denmark, focuses on using conscious production methods and materials to produce practical products that are kind to the environment.

Suitable for 18 months old and onwards, Grech & Co’s sunglasses offer UV400 protection. Again this offers the best protection from the sun for delicate little peepers.

To help keep your kid’s glasses safe, each pair of glasses comes with a handy drawstring pouch.

Pros

♻️ Made from recycled plastic.

☀️ Offers excellent UVA and UVB protection.

💰 More affordable price point.

 👦 Brilliant to see sustainable options for kids.

Cons

♻️ No recycling scheme.

🛡️ The pouch may not offer great protection. You may need to buy a separate case for them.

Browse the Grech & Co range at Kidly*, priced from £22.

Pala Eco-Friendly Sunglasses

Pala sunglasses sitting alongside colourful beaded necklaces.

Pala Eyewear* makes sustainable and eco-friendly sunglasses that both look good and do good.

Pala’s stylish sunglasses are handmade in Italy from sustainable materials. This includes materials such as plant-based bio-acetate and recycled acetate. Meanwhile, the scratch-resistant lenses offer UV400 protection for your eyes.

Recycled plastic is also used to make Pala’s protective sunglasses cases. These are handcrafted by weaving communities supported by a Ghanaian-based NGO. This provides employment and upholds traditional crafts in local communities, whilst utilising waste materials.

When your Pala sunglasses give up the ghost, you can return them to Pala. Pala then recycles your old glasses via TerraCycle’s® Zero-Waste Box scheme, which means your broken glasses are given a new lease of life. This includes creating watering cans from the plastic and nuts and bolts from the metal parts.

In terms of giving back, sales of Pala’s sunglasses help to fund vision aid programmes in low-income African countries. 10% of the world’s population can’t access eye care, and it is this statistic that drives Pala Eyewear’s mission to create long-lasting positive change.

Pros

🕶️ A wide range of stylish frames for men and women is available.

♻️ Made from renewable and recyclable materials, with recycling facilities offered.

☀️ Excellent UVA and UVB shielding.

✔️ Independently verified as a B-Corp –  demonstrating high social and environmental performance.

👍 Gives back to charity.

Cons

💰 At around £110 a pair, these are more expensive than other options.

Browse the Pala Eyewear range at Social Supermarket*, where prices start from £110.

Waterhaul Recycled Plastic Sunglasses

Waterhaul glasses in blue surrounded by waste fishing nets.

Waterhaul sunglasses* make sunglasses with a purpose. As a social enterprise, Waterhaul seeks to tackle ghost fishing gear and nets left behind in our oceans by transforming this waste into UV400 sunglasses.

Founded by marine conservationists, Waterhaul says that abandoned fishing gear and nets are the most common and the most lethal forms of plastic in our oceans – trapping and killing marine life. As such, Waterhaul collects fishing nets from across the coastline of Cornwall. These are then shredded, washed and turned into plastic pellets. The pellets are then used to make sunglasses.

You might be wondering how durable products made from fishing nets really are. Worry not, Waterhaul says that fishing nets are incredibly durable and so when recycled make for super-strong sunglasses frames. Waterhaul stands by this so much that it offers a lifetime warranty on all its sunglasses.

This warranty means that if your glasses ever break, you can return your sunglasses or eyewear frames to Waterhaul and it will repair or replace the frame free of charge. You just need to cover shipping. Do note that a small fee applies for recycling and replacing other product components, such as sunglasses lenses.

Waterhaul is also developing schemes to assist in preventing gear loss at the source, alongside a port-based pilot scheme in Pembrokeshire.

Pros

🤝 Lifetime warranty

💰 Great price for eco-friendly sunglasses with a lifetime warranty.

♻️ Made from recycled materials, with recycling facilities offered.

☀️ Excellent UVA and UVB shielding.

🌊 This social enterprise is taking direct action to clean up our seas.

Cons

🕶️ Smaller range of frames available.

Browse the range of Waterhaul sunglasses at Etsy* or Ecomodo* where prices start from £60.

I hope I’ve been able to help you find your dream ethical sunglasses. As always, I will keep this post updated – so even if you haven’t, then do check back soon for more eco-friendly sunglasses recommendations!

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