Eco-friendly Eyewear: Ways to Boost Practice Sustainability & Profits
By Practice Growth June 08, 2021
Over the past twenty years, there has been a massive global shift towards minimizing our personal and professional impact on the environment. Many ECPs and HCPs are ecologically conscious but find it difficult to translate into their day-to-day practice. As an eye care practice, there are numerous ways to lean into services and products that are best practices for the environment. Our patients and customers are more focused on making responsible buying decisions for the planet. And as a practice owner, you have a lot of eco-friendly eye care solutions to offer them. Below are some options of eco-friendly eyewear companies and ideas to help you boost your practice’s profits and sustainability.
There are quite a few brands that are making waves in the eco-friendly and sustainable eyewear market. Some brands like Mita are recycling old plastic bottles, cleaning them, melting them down, and turning them into beautiful, fashionable pieces of eyewear. This has a significant impact on reducing landfill waste across the world.
Other brands have focused on cleaning up ocean plastic waste. Statistics from 2020-2021 show that 8 billion tons of plastic enter our ocean every year. Waterhaul intercepts fishing lines and plastic found on beaches and converts them into optical frames and sunglasses. They also have a Kickstarter program to recycle single-use face masks which have become a huge threat to the environment during the Covid pandemic.
Costa is another brand that focuses on microplastics and single-use plastics found on beaches. Not only are they cleaning these spaces of materials that are harmful to the environment, but they are also producing functional, quality eyewear as a result. Both brands are doing their part to make our oceans and beaches cleaner and safer for aquatic animals.
Wood, as an eyewear material, has pros and cons for the environment; cutting down trees to make optical frames is obviously a big NO, but there are some brands that are recycling wooden products like Woodzee. They accept used skateboards and will fashion them into a frame for you. It is one of the most durable, lightweight frame materials they use. Other brands such as Drift Eyewear are using driftwood retrieved off beaches and riverbanks so no trees are harmed in the making of these frames.
Hemp eyewear, based in Edinburgh, has created the world’s first frame made of hemp fiber, natural sustainable eyewear. The frames are combined with turmeric, a vibrant healing spice, to give a unique and bright color. Hemp eyewear offers free repairs for life and a recycle program where you can bring in any other branded frame for a discount. The brand is experimenting with natural raw materials and designs to make eyewear from plastic alternatives - a very unique selling point.
Look for brands that recycle and replenish the environment. Eco, a brand out of New York City, has a gorgeous collection of recycled metal and acetate eyewear for men and women (with clip-ons available too!). Their ethos is to save natural resources by using recycled metals, ocean plastics, and bio-based ingredients where possible. And for every frame they sell, Eco will plant a tree.
Another way of recycling and minimizing product waste is to stock and sell vintage eyewear. 70’s fashion eyewear is a huge trend for 2021, so having a vintage frame option is a good way to offer something unique to your customers and reduce strain on the environment.
If your customers are there for the big-name brands, look for fashion houses or companies who are taking active steps towards becoming more environmentally responsible. Stella McCartney makes beautiful eyewear. Their products are cruelty-free and use at least 50% recycled materials in their optical products.
Silhouette are the new role models when it comes to sustainable and responsible innovation. They have installed solar panels on their factories to convert solar energy into electricity which used to be one of their most heavily used form of energy. The company headquarters is located within a water conservation area so they are responsible for not only saving water but more improving the quality and purity of the wastewater they generate.
Safilo, the fashion house responsible for Dior, Kate Spade, and Givenchy eyewear (to name a few) has made a pledge to reduce its impact on the planet by investing in technical and environmental innovations. Their marketing material such as counter cards and show cards come from responsibly managed forests that provide environmental, social, and economic benefits.
Most big companies now will have some commitment to social responsibility. If you have some favorite brands in store that you cannot bear to live without then give your suppliers or representatives a call to find out what they are doing on the sustainability front. These will be great conversation starters and will equip your team to respond correctly when an eco-conscious patient has a question.
One of the best things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint and the price of your frames is to buy local products. By sourcing your eyewear from your region or country you can massively reduce carbon emissions and also save money on expensive freight charges. Ask your eco-conscious customers if they know of any brands that are making a difference and would like to see you carry in your practice and optical shop. Chances are they have done their research and would appreciate having their opinions and viewpoints on the subject heard.
Whether you’re a new business starting out or an established business wanting to make some ethical changes, there are so many exciting eco-friendly options in the market today. Your business and your customers will all benefit from each step you take towards more sustainable practice. Every little bit counts and every little bit helps. More than ever, we have an opportunity to create win-win-win relationships among practices, patients, and profits.