Sustainable Eyewear: Repurposed Sunglasses with a Conscious Vision

Upcycled eyewear represents a unique niche in sustainable fashion, turning discarded waste and uncommon materials into innovative eyewear. This experimental approach repurposes various materials, from ocean waste to cigarette butts, transforming them into creative, recycled frames. Such initiatives showcase the potential to reuse diverse types of waste, illustrating that even sunglasses can be crafted from upcycled materials. Below, we highlight some unconventional materials that have been repurposed to promote sustainable vision through stylish and eco-friendly eyewear designs.


Upcycled Old Denim Sunglasses

Mosevic, a designer eyewear label founded by Jack Spencer in the UK, has carved a niche for itself by using an unconventional material for making sunglasses—upcycled denim. Each pair is completely handmade, using the fibers of denim fabric in many layers. This process was developed after extensive research and prototyping, aiming to address the waste generated by discarded jeans and repurposing it in a creative and sustainable way. The sunglasses are produced in only small and limited batches, with a slow and environmentally friendly production process. Mosevic ensures that old denim gets a new lease on life, by sourcing denim from thrift shops, reusing leftovers, and obtaining stock from clothing partners. Jack Spencer and his small team are committed to finding sustainable and responsible ways to reuse old denim, turning it into durable eyewear that stands out both for its unique material choice and its contribution to sustainability.

(Image credit: Mosevic Denim Eyewear by Jack Spencer)


Damaged Wetsuit Sunglasses

American surf-inspired apparel brand Quiksilver is collaborating with the French sustainable eyewear label Oceneo to launch a unique collection of upcycled sunglasses crafted from damaged wetsuits. This limited-edition line will debut with an initial release of 150 pairs of sunglasses. Oceneo, which specialises in repurposing worn-out surfing neoprene wetsuits, is pioneering this new and responsible concept of transforming neoprene into stylish eyewear. Neoprene wetsuits, commonly used in surfing, provide an interesting challenge for upcycling due to their material properties. Oceneo's meticulous process involves sorting, washing, and then creatively upcycling the neoprene fabric into not only sunglasses but other products as well. This collaboration aims to create responsibly made items from a unique form of waste. This partnership represents both brands' commitment to sustainability and their ability to transform unconventional materials into useful products.

(Image credit: Quiksilver x Oceneo Eyewear)


Discarded Chips Packets Sunglasses

Without by Ashaya, founded by Anish Malpani in Pune, is a pioneering startup creating the world's first recycled sunglasses from discarded packets of chips, using patented technology. It is a social enterprise, dedicated to expanding its innovative approach to include other items in the future. The brand achieved notable acclaim by winning the 2023 United Nations x Lakmé Fashion Week’s Circular Design Challenge. This accolade was in recognition of their groundbreaking work with post-consumer chip packets, a material traditionally considered too complex to recycle due to its composition. Without by Ashaya addresses environmental issues and also focuses on social impact. The team is committed to helping marginalised communities by providing employment opportunities, particularly to former waste-pickers. Without identifies chip packets as one of the worst types of plastic waste due to their complexity to recycle and its quick turnover from purchase to disposal, which contributes to significant environmental degradation. They work towards creating a sustainable environment, combating the cycle of waste, while simultaneously creating jobs and community upliftment by repurposing such "impossible-to-recycle" materials.

(Image credit: Without by Ashaya Sunglasses)


Discarded Fishing Nets & Cigarette Butts

Karün is a sustainable eyewear brand based in Chile, available in over 20 countries. Its glasses are made from 100% recycled materials like fishing nets and ropes, designed to create a different kind of sunglass that benefits the environment. They source discarded waste such as ropes and fishing nets from the coasts of Chile, which affect our natural ecosystems. Their stylish eyewear is made from unexpected materials with a reduced carbon footprint. For thorough sustainability, they responsibly source recycled materials for eyewear that is durable, diverting waste from oceans and landfills.

(Image credit: Karün Sustainable Eyewear)

Recently, they also launched eyewear made from cigarette butts, extending their creative use of circular materials. They partnered with the Chilean cleantech company IMEKO to develop Celion, a material repurposed from cigarette butts to craft sunglasses. This initiative recycles cigarette butts into eyewear frames, reducing the carbon footprint compared to traditional methods and aiming to address the 5.6 trillion cigarette butts discarded each year. Karün began with ocean-friendly initiatives and continues to explore the reuse and repurposing of uncommon waste to reduce environmental burdens.

(Image credit: Karün Sustainable Eyewear)

Repurposed eyewear showcases an inventive attempt to reimagine the reuse of different materials. By converting discarded items into fashionable eyeglasses, these initiatives demonstrate the feasibility and creativity of recycling waste into valuable products, and promoting environmental responsibility. Upcycled sunglasses reduce waste and set new standards in the eyewear industry for using existing resources responsibly. Ultimately, repurposed eyewear not only changes how we see the world but also how we can protect it by making thoughtful and sustainable choices.

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