How to Buy Sustainable, Responsible Eyewear
Sustainability is a thousand small decisions.
Buy less, buy smarter.
It’s absolutely true that we need to clean up the plastic in our oceans, and there are many companies doing great work on that front that we should support. But how do we stop ADDING to the problem NOW, versus cleaning up the “downstream” symptoms over and over?
What is the problem?
Those thousand little decisions by makers and consumers are adding to the problem, every day. A default mindset has lead to a lack of truly sustainable products.
Let’s be clear.
Low quality fast fashion represents over-consumption of cheaply made products often from countries with lower environmental standards. They are brands designed at their core to be purchased without thinking and then shortly tossed away. Even a single purchase from one of these brands is feeding into a larger structure of overconsumption, defeating your sustainable purchasing goals. So let’s look at the root of the issue, not just symptoms.
Buy less, buy smarter. How?
Read. Watch. Ask why. Dig deeper.
When it comes to responsible sustainable eyeglasses:
- Buy a pair that can be refurbished or repaired. If a company doesn’t have a repair policy and encourages replacement first, then you are NOT buying from a company with a sustainable structure.
- Buy a pair made in a country with a record of environmental regulation and worker rights. This is more powerful than when factories are “self-regulated” in a country without such laws. Worker retention, salary, healthcare, safety, etc all may see better results than, for example, B-Corp certifications.
- Buy a pair made with higher quality standards, and therefore lasts longer. Often this is a continuation of the country it is made in. Better made products last longer, and can be repaired more easily.
- Buy a pair with a warranty, hopedfully one that’s as long as you expect to use them. A Japanese-made premium eyewear frame should last 5-10 years, or longer. Any brand that does not warrant their product against defects for at least that long is not committed to the sustainability of the product they make.
- Buy a pair as an investment. Premium, responsibly-made frames are NOT cheaper than a dinner at a nice restaurant. It is simply impossible to retail a pair of glasses with Rx lenses under $100 in the most responsible and sustainable way.
- Buy a pair that is aesthetically designed to last longer. Purchasing a seasonal, trendy pair of frames is NOT choosing sustainability. Choose timeless, well-considered frame designs over seasonally oversized, chunky, or with colors that will not represent your personal style next season. That said, style is personal. If you wear red regardless of season, or chunky (think Jeff Goldbloom) or oversized (think Jenna Lyons) then you are fine. But if you’re just chasing a trend or an impulse, it is not a sustainable decision.
- Buy from a company with a program to reuse your glasses after you are done with them.
At David Kind, we are committed to this at the core of our company.
While we have work to do ourselves, we currently:
- Manufacture our frames in Japan and Italy, at the best factories in the industry.
- Manufacture our lenses in the USA (we do not import from far-flung places with lax regulations.)
- We have a Refurbish & Repair program.
- We have an Eyeglass Donation program.
- We have a 10-year frame warranty.
Hopefully these points we’ve outlined can help you make a responsible decision about purchasing eyewear, wherever you decide to consciously spend your dollars.