Pictured: Zeal Divide

Environmentally-friendly frames and shades


By David Goldberg


As the world’s environmental crisis intensifies, there’s a growing rally cry for a war on plastic pollution.

Both Montreal, Que., and Whistler, B.C., have announced their intentions to ban single-use plastics by the end of 2022 and 2023, respectively.

And, since nearly half of the plastic waste produced by Canadians is single-use, there’s now a bigger push than ever before for companies to use more recycled and biodegradable materials in everyday items, including eyeglasses.

“Reducing waste in the optometry or medical industries has always been challenging,” says Deborah Wong at Green Calgary, an organization dedicated to helping people live greener, more sustainable lives.

“Many medical and eye care products, such as eyeglasses, are often made with mixed materials, where they would not be able to be recycled through regular recycling plants.”

Companies are now eyeing up every detail to become more environmentally friendly.



For example, as of mid-2020, all eyewear models from WestGroupe featured biodegradable demo lenses. Polybags and temple sleeves use a revolutionary biopolymer, which will break down in five years.

OTP was the first WestGroupe collection to offer frames made from biodegradable acetate and a case made from recycled material.

“The upcoming collection will feature a new case made using cork, a fully sustainable and renewable natural resource,” says WestGroupe’s vice-president of product development, Beverly Sultineau.

The collection features the OTP-118 for women in arctic blue, daisy rose or champagne. For men, there’s OTP-130 in crystal navy, crystal grey and crystal sand.

Ogi Eyewear has moved to 100 per cent biodegradable packaging for its frames. They’ve also developed a program to repurpose scraps of acetate that were headed to landfills and turned them into jewelry, accessories, PD rulers, mirrors and other branded materials to gift their customers.

“We are committed to promoting sustainability, lowering the carbon footprint and setting an example for better earth stewardship,” says OGI chief creative officer David Duralde.

New from Ogi is the Aquatennial for women featuring temples made from eco-friendly materials. This elegant cat-eye frame comes in a tortoise pattern available in amethyst, navy or rose.




ECO Eyewear was recently recognized by Seventeen magazine for its environmentally friendly frame collections. The company was named best eyewear brand during the magazine’s 2021 sustainable style awards.

ECO’s biobased frames are largely made up of castor seed oil pellets, while its recycled frames are created from 95 per cent recycled metal.

ECO has now added an Eco Ocean collection, which is made up of shades and frames crafted from recycled ocean plastic, like from old fishing nets and ropes. The company says it has already cleared more than 30 tons of plastic waste from the world’s oceans.

All of ECO Eyewear’s cases and packaging are also made of sustainable materials, such as cornstarch and recycled PET bottles.

New frames in the Eco Ocean collection include Pearl, which is featured on our cover. Available in aqua, lavender and black, these frames were created from recycled ocean-based plastics, collected by fishermen and local communities with Waste Free Oceans.

At Smith, the sportswear company’s hottest pair of shades, The Lowdown 2 CORE, is made entirely from five recycled plastic bottles, aside from the stainless steel barrel hinges. 

“The CORE Collection embodies Smith’s responsibility to its community to deliver products that enable the brand to make consistent and measurable steps forward to reducing its environmental impact,” says Smith’s Kate Gaeir. 

“We’re helping promote and support the causes that affect the entirety of the outdoor and active communities as a whole.”

The polarized lenses are made from Smith’s castor-oil-based Evolve material. Each pair comes with a microfiber bag also made from recycled plastic bottles and boxed in 100 per cent recycled packaging.




Within the Marchon Eyewear brands, Ferragamo’s environmental responsibility has extended to the Responsible Eyewear Collection women’s line of sunglasses: two new models in a total of seven different colourways, featuring frames in Acetate Renew and BioRay lenses; recycled and renewable materials with unparalleled quality that boast lower impact on the planet.

This new line includes the SF1022S with its round oversize cat-eye shape. These sunglasses feature refined details.

The brand’s Gancini print and the Ferragamo logo stand out on the wide arms, adding a vintage touch with their enamel-effect metallic gold and rose gold paint.

Zeal is rolling out an entirely new line of sustainable frames with The Metals Collection, marking a new take on the classic aviator styling. 

“Zeal’s Metals are a confluence of strength, style and sustainability with unique design elements that stand out from the pack while minimizing their impact on the environment,” says director of marketing Mike Lewis. 

The frames are forged from recyclable stainless steel, plant-based Ellume Polarized lenses, Hexetate and ceramic nose pads. 

Pescadero’s large, swooping lines, inspired by the ocean’s swell, define style and functionality.

For women, there’s the Shipstern, a small-fit aviator shape that classes up any adventure.




The Polaroid fall/winter 2021 eyewear collection from Safilo Group continues to offer a sustainable choice on many optical adult styles with a selection of recycled and biodegradable materials. 

The PLD D430 for men is a bio-based plastic frame featuring metal rivets and iconic end tips in colour contrast.

For women, there’s the PLD D432. This cat-eye design designed with the eco-conscious consumer in mind comes in shaded Havana beige with Havana/azure temples, black, shaded Havana pink with Havana/pink temples, transparent red, transparent violet. 

Based in South Africa, David Green has been turning out eco-friendly eyewear since 2006, designing frames that are inspired by the uniqueness of nature. 

Distributed by the Suzanne Sendel Agency in Canada, you can look at the Baturas BG1, featuring real dyed leaves in green, set into black cotton-based acetate with high quality silicone nose pads.

Another fun option is Chela DDE3, made with real dyed leaves in mixed colours with a cotton acetate front and temples in crystal grey.