It's time to invest in a new pair of sunglasses. I love my Ray-Ban's of course, they're classic, but after having worn them non-stop for the past 3 years (talking about being a sustainable consumer!) I get the feeling I need to change it up a little. At this point, even I am bored with myself. Choosing a good pair of shades shouldn't be a problem since you can find them anywhere, both online and offline. But, just like clothes, eyewear can be a subject to unsustainable and unethical practices. The real difficulty lies within the selection of criteria based on which a good pair of sunglasses is made.
And are brands that don't mention the word eco or sustainable in their sales pitch that much worse for the environment than the ones that do? This thought made me jump away from trying on a pair of So Real's and jump into my research chair.
Let's think back to what I said in this article: there is no 1 perfect solution, 1 rule or 1 guideline of being 100% sustainable. It's more of a framework. Within this framework are a few criteria that define sustainable practices and ethically better choices. Let's put it to practice, step by step.
Sustainability to the max
Basically, the most eco-conscious act of all is to walk around naked. That could be a great solution if you live on a nudist beach, or a deserted island, where it's 30 degrees Celsius all year round. Forget about them tan lines! Or, in this case, wear your smile wrinkles proudly as of birth. However, our society has moved on from the Adam&Eve era and has chosen to cover up, if you don't count the occasional sideboob, crochet bralettes and Atelier Versace Spring Summer 2016 Collection. Basically: we need stuff and we will buy new stuff.
Next in the sustainability pyramid: reuse. Vintage, preloved, secondhand, swap or borrow.. you name it, it's eco good! Websites like Designer Vintage and Vestiare Collective are a great way to get your hands on designer shades (designer anything actually) and, save a few hundred bucks!
My personal favorite, unfortunately only available in the US, is Rent The Runway. It's the Spotify of fashion! The concept is truly amazing. You can either rent a piece for 4 or 8 days and then return it. Or, sit down for this one, you can take a subscription for Unlimited: for 139$/month you can rent 3 pieces and hold them for as long, or short, as you like and then exchange them for new items. Basically, you can have yourself a new outfit every day for less than 150$ per month!
Creme de la creme of sustainability! I wouldn't know a first thing about how to turn my Chaudfontaine plastic bottles into anything but a plant pot, but luckily there are plenty of creative companies that do!
RECYCLED FRAMES BY DICK MOBY
Fun, funky, unconventional. Amsterdam-based company with an outgoing personality and a clear mission: cut the pollution. Dick Moby, uses recycled acetate for black frames, recycled PET bottles for microfibre cleaning cloths and recycled leather for the eyewear cases. Thumbs up, nod of approval and hat's off to you Dick Moby, way to reduce waste!
Besides having an environmentally favorable production process, Dick Moby sunglasses are as stylish as they are ecologically good!
High quality, limited production
Sustainability has many faces, many shapes but durability is one of its key features. Something that is done quick and cheap will never last long, look as good in a year or have any value left the next summer season. So, when you want to shop good, shop ethically, shop ecologically responsible, you don't buy. You invest!
LIMITED EDITION BY VIU EYEWEAR
No mass production, designed in Switzerland, handmade in Italy. Now that's how it's done! Nothing beats a mindset that chooses uniqueness, legacy and quality above penny valued fast-fashion. VIU might not be available in every mega store of Europe, but they do provide free try at home service for their optical collection. #Service
And whoever said sustainable fashion is boring, will most definitely review their position after have taken a look at these sexy models.
The NO pile
If you care about ethics, if you care for the environment, if you respect people, don't ever buy replica's. Don't confuse it with "inspired by"! Replica's are products that are labeled as Chanel, Dior, Celine, and other high end designers, but are sold by a free agent at the beach or promenade with a reduction of 99,99%. It's unethical, because it's a stolen design. It's unsustainable, because it's mass production. What kind of place do you think these cheap thrills come from if the selling price is 10EUR in Barcelona while it had to be shipped all the way from China, plus the profit margin?
Same goes for mass production, fast fashion brands that outsource production of their clothes and accessories to the far east, for a price less than a baguette.
Besides the unfair treatment towards the creators and the makers, the lower the price, the less the value you give it. Isn't it? Just think about it, how many times did you say something that goes like this "Oh whatever, if this one gets lost or broken, it's not a big deal, I only paid it, like, 12 bucks." And that is the issue.
Had it been a pair of Oliver Peoples, you'd think 20 times before taking it to Fiesta Tequila Boom Boom, after which your friends will probably have to help you remember where you live (unfortunately, it's experience talking, not fantasy).
Value creation. Value creator. Sustainability.