Sunglasses: Brands that help the planet and people in need

Day 178 – I’m sure many of us have lost track of the number of sunglasses we have gone through over the years. Whether, they were misplaced or broken, we have had to purchase numerous pairs. I can honestly say that I never gave much thought to it, but all those pairs add up to a lot of waste, since many sunglasses are not recyclable.

Thankfully, there are many U.S. companies offering reasonably priced sustainable options.

Proof Eyewear

  1. Based in Boise, Idaho
  2. Starting at $65
  3. $10 of each purchase goes to the Do Good Program
  4. They use a variety of biodegradable materials, like recycled skateboards decks, recycled aluminum, FSC-certified sustainably-sourced wood (including bamboo, lacewood, ebony, and mahogany), and biodegradable cotton-based acetate for their ECO line (short for Environmentally Conscious Optics).
  5. They offer a recycle program.

SOLO Eyewear

  1. Their sunglasses are created using manufacturers from other countries, who have undergone and passed a comprehensive audit conducted by an American based auditing company. The audit reviews the manufacturer’s worker protection and health management, maintenance issue management, fire and emergency management and chemical management.
  2. Starting at $89
  3. 10% of profits is donated to restore vision. SOLO Eyewear has restored vision for 13,000+ people in need through the funding of eye exams, eyeglasses and cataract surgeries.
  4. Each pair of SOLOs is constructed using repurposed bamboo or recycled plastic which reduces their carbon footprint and prevents hundreds of pounds of virgin materials from being produced each year.
  5. They have a 30 day Happiness Guarantee.


  1. Based in Flint, Michigan
  2. Starting at $99
  3. 1% of net profits are being donated to the Community Fund of Greater Flint. Donations will be distributed to two funds that address children’s health and education in Flint: Flint Promise & Child Health and Development Fund.
  4. Genusee frames are made from 100% post-consumer recycled water bottles (rPET). At the height of the water crisis, the city of Flint was using more than 20 million water bottles a day to meet their daily needs.
  5. Eyewear is covered under manufacturer’s warranty for 180-days.


  1. Based in San Francisco, California
  2. Starting at $48
  3. Sunski is a member of 1% for the Planet.
  4. They invented a way to turn scrap plastic into recycled frames. Instead of going to a landfill, their SuperLight recycled resin gets a new life of your adventures. Their packaging is plastic free.
  5. They offer a lifetime warranty to fix your shades as long as you own them.


  1. Based in New York City, New York
  2. Starting at $75
  3. Eco works with Trees for the Future to plant a tree for every frame purchased. With your help, they have planted over 2.5 million so far.
  4. They use 95% recycled metal, biobased castor seed oil, and recycled ocean plastic for their designs. Their packaging is plastic free.
  5. They offer free shipping and free returns.

Norton Point

  1. Based in Los Angeles, California
  2. Starting at $89
  3. They pledge to remove one pound of plastic from the ocean for every pair of sunglasses they sell.
  4. Their eyewear is made from recovered high-density-polyethylene (HDPE) ocean plastics.

Swell Vision

  1. Based in Hendersonville, North Carolina
  2. Starting at $35
  3. With every pair of sunglasses you buy from Swell Vision, the company pays for 2 weeks of tuition for a local student to attend the Green School. A sponsor of the local scholarship program since 2014, Swell Vision’s support today enables 40 Balinese children to attend the Green School full time. Through a holistic, natural education based on sustainability, this greenest school on earth on Bali has been helping students develop the skills necessary to solve our planet’s most urgent problems since 2008.
  4. All of their sunglasses are handcrafted, and their frames are made from sustainably sourced bamboo and equipped with polarized lenses. Some of their models are made with both bamboo and plant-based acetate.

Zeal Optics

  1. Based in Boulder, Colorado
  2. Starting at $99
  3. They are members of 1% for the Planet, supporting organizations like National Forest Foundation, Protect our Winters and dZi Foundation.
  4. Made with plant-based materials, it is engineered to be as sustainable as it is technical. Their plant-based material allows for a high-purity lens for crisper, clearer vision all while reducing environmental impact.
  5. Their “Community Champions” program is a way to say ‘Thank You’ to verified first responders, nurses, medical providers, hospital employees, government employees, teachers and students. This program gives the people that serve access to exclusive 40% off discounts.

Blue Planet Eyewear

  1. Based in California
  2. Starting at $50
  3. For every pair sold, they donate a pair of corrective glasses to a person in need via a charity organization that they partner with. They call this practice our Visualize Change Program. They have also partnered with Trees for the Future and will plant one tree for every pair of glasses sold. They have plastic free packaging.
  4. By re-using the excess materials to create new eyewear, it creates a remarkably more durable, lightweight and comfortable frame. They have also incorporated other natural materials such as bamboo, Walnut, Beechwood and Zebra Wood. They have saved 1000’s of lbs of excess materials from going into our landfills and oceans.
  5. They offer free returns and exchanges.

Shady Rays

  1. Located in Louisville, Kentucky
  2. Starting at $48
  3. In partnership with Feeding America, they donate 10 meals to fight hunger in America with every order. They have provided over 10 million meals and continue to donate thousands of meals every day through Feeding America sponsored food banks across the country.
  4. Even though Shady Rays does not use sustainable materials in the production of their sunglasses, they do offer a lifetime warranty.

To celebrate National Sunglasses Day*, you should treat yourself to a new pair of sustainable sunglasses. Your eyes and the planet will thank you!

*Many companies listed in this post are offering sales in honor of National Sunglasses Day.

Tomorrow, enjoying a summer free of PVC.

My 1% for the Planet Contributions

Canadian Geese use the Chicago River as a runway.

Day 53 – Back on Day 43, I wrote about 1% for the Planet and their mission to connect businesses and individuals with non-profit organizations protecting the planet and making a difference in the world. In my post I stated that I had joined the movement and signed up to be an individual member. I thought I would share what organizations I have chosen to support this year. It was not easy to pick from such an impressive list of non-profits. I choose six organizations that connected to me on a personal level.

Gateway to the Great Outdoors

“Gateway to the Great Outdoors (GGO) was developed to provide low-income students across the US equitable access to comprehensive environmental education. By combining STEAM instruction with outdoor learning, GGO enhances the quality of health, science literacy, and environmental stewardship for children who would otherwise be excluded from this transformative experience. GGO presents children an opportunity to see, hear, taste, and touch a more fascinating world than the one they’ve grown accustomed to.”

Being a former teacher, this organization appealed to me because I know how powerful education is and how important positive personal experiences can have on a child. My fondest memories of being a teacher were the field trips I took my students on. Being able to expose them to activities that they might not have otherwise experienced was extremely rewarding.

Feeding America

“In a country that wastes billions of pounds of food each year, it’s almost shocking that anyone in America goes hungry. Yet every day, there are millions of children and adults who do not get the meals they need to thrive. We work to get nourishing food – from farmers, manufacturers, and retailers – to people in need. At the same time, we also seek to help the people we serve to build a path to a brighter, food-secure future.”

The pandemic has opened my eyes to the amount of food my family consumes. I have always known that they eat a lot, but having them home 24/7 has made me more aware on just how much. The pandemic has also made me even more thankful that my family has a sufficient, if not at times, an abundant amount of food to feed them. I can’t imagine how terrifying it is not knowing where your next meal will come from or if there will be enough food to feed your family.

Alliance for the Great Lakes

“The Alliance for the Great Lakes is a nonpartisan nonprofit working across the region to protect our most precious resource: the fresh, clean, and natural waters of the Great Lakes. The Alliance for the Great Lakes connects and empowers people to advocate, give back, and take action to protect the lakes.”

I have spent my whole life enjoying Lake Michigan. As a kid my family would go to West Beach in Indiana during the summer and spend hours playing in the waves and sand. As a young adult, I was introduced to Pentwater, Michigan. A place where the waters of the lake look so pristine and the sunsets are extraordinary. Today, I have the pleasure of living near the lake and enjoying the beauty and endless picture perfect opportunities it offers.


“Since our founding in 1963 as a program of the Welfare Council of Metropolitan Chicago, Openlands has been at the forefront of the urban conservation movement. As one of the first organizations in the United States to address environmental issues within a metropolitan region, we have focused on people as much as nature. Over 50 years later, Openlands remains committed to urban conservation in the greater Chicago region. Openlands’ emphasis on people, places, and policy is the framework and driving factor of the organization.”

I am the happiest when I am out in nature with my camera. Documenting the beauty that is all around us brings me immense joy. Living in a big city has not prevented me from enjoying nature on a daily basis and I am extremely thankful for those that protect these areas.

Friends of the Chicago River

“Since 1979, Friends has been working to improve the health of the Chicago River system for the benefit of people, plants and animals; and by doing so, has laid the foundation for the river to be a beautiful, continuous, and easily accessible corridor of open space in the Chicago region.”

I have enjoyed the Chicago River for years. Living just a couple blocks from the North Branch, I have gone on countless trips to the river to photograph wildlife. I have also strolled along the Riverwalk and photographed the breathtaking cityscape. The river has provided a unique beauty to Chicago that many cities do not have the pleasure of having.

Urban Growers Collective

“Urban Growers Collective (UGC) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that was co-founded  by Laurell Sims and Erika Allen in the fall of 2017. Our approach is to demonstrate the development of community-based food systems and to support communities in developing systems of their own where food is grown, prepared, and distributed within the community itself. Working closely with more than 33 community partners, our goal is to build economic opportunity for youth while mitigating food insecurity and limited access to high quality, affordable, and nutritionally-dense food. We operate eight urban farms on 11 acres of land, predominantly located on Chicago’s South Side. These farms are production-oriented but also offer opportunities for staff-led education, training, leadership development, and food distribution.  Each farm utilizes organic growing methods, intensive growing practices, and year-round production strategies to best maximize growing space.”

Since, my family started composting I have become more aware of the amount of food we waste. Since we collect all the food that would normally be thrown in the trash and place it in a bin to be composted, I get to see how much we collect. It’s nice to know that now that food is being composted and not left to sit in a landfill. It makes me sad to think about the amount of food we did not rescue. Composting has given me a new appreciation for food and where it comes from, how it is grown and who benefits from growing it and/or making it.

I hope this post has introduced you to some organizations that you might not have heard about before. I also hope that you consider supporting these organizations or finding ones that resonate with you. We might not have the time and energy to roll up our sleeves and get a little dirty fighting for a cause, but there are people out there already in the fight. All they need is some support and that’s where we can step in.

Tomorrow, toothpaste, with or without the tube.