Eyespace embraces sustainability

Recognising now is the time to take the climate crisis seriously, and with the optical industry sitting firmly within fashion culture, Eyespace founders Jayne and Julie Abel began a journey in 2019 which now sees a series of milestone green initiatives being rolled out to every brand in the company’s portfolio.

The Eyespace Design Team undertook a year-long Research and Development exercise, reaching out to specialist suppliers across the world to find eyewear solutions which offer wearers sustainable, fashionable choices without compromise on quality. This investment in research has made the award-winning British company an industry authority in the most sustainable practice for frame manufacture and packaging, with an arsenal of new materials to present to market.

Collaborating with selected leading manufacturers worldwide – each with ethos and practices that align with Eyespace’s wishlist of enviro-credentials and traceability – the company proudly unveiled the ground-breaking eco-conscious eyewear collection in January 2020. The fashion-forward range for men and women showcases an innovative, biodegradable and completely renewable bio-acetate material; a durable, premium and sustainable acetate with beautiful colour properties, it is set apart by the use of natural, non-toxic plasticisers. As part of its planet pledge, Eyespace’s eco conscious collection also partnered with global charity One Tree Planted at its launch, planting a tree for every frame sold. The collection has already funded major reforestation projects in Australia and the Amazon and continues to be a consistent supporter in the charity’s fight against climate change.

While optical frames themselves are not single-use plastics, demo lenses and packaging contribute significantly to environmental impact. Eyespace’s eco-conscious collection has eliminated plastic packaging in favour of FSC certified protective cardboard pouches – which are recyclable and biodegradable – and implemented innovative fully biodegradable optical-grade demo lenses, which it hopes to set as an industry benchmark. The research in setting up this new collection has spearheaded many other initiatives across all Eyespace brands including biodegradable frame-bags on all products. One of the first optical companies in the world to make this switch company-wide, the move will protect oceans and land habitats from harmful pollution for future generations.

In the coming months, sustainable product launches are planned for Eyespace’s flagship women’s brand Cocoa Mint and its high-profile collaborating brands. In Q4, Aspinal of London will launch a new luxury sustainable collection designed and manufactured with bio-based acetate and biodegradable demo lenses. Referencing Aspinal’s artisanal heritage, a selection of the models feature sustainably sourced leather wrap detailing at the temples. All leather used is a sustainable by-product of the meat industry, while a revolutionary tanning and dyeing process uses less water and non-toxic chemicals to reduce impact to the environment.

Meanwhile, Land Rover’s popular men’s eyewear will match the ambitious green targets set for the vehicles themselves in the coming years. Q4 2021 will see the introduction of sustainable frame materials derived from castor seed oil; non-GMO, BPA free, and sustainably farmed in arid areas to combat deforestation. The material supplier is an active member of the ground-breaking PRAGATI initiative in India which works to improve working conditions, create awareness for sustainable farming and increase yields due to more efficient farming practices. The final resin offers outstanding performance; 20% lighter than traditional resins, durable and resistant to impact and environmental stress cracking. In addition all Stainless Steel used on new releases has a high recycled content, a rare innovation in eyewear and sourced from a specialist supplier to ensure the highest quality for optical use. Finally, the distinctive Land Rover eyewear cases are being redeveloped in sustainable and recyclable materials.

For the board of directors at Eyespace, sustainable initiatives are more than token gestures; they are driven by an informed awareness of the modern climate crisis and the responsibility business owners have as custodians of global industry to monitor and manage its impact on the natural world. All cardboard packaging is reused and recycled at the Eyespace depot, with paper recycling in the office, mixed recycling in all kitchens, charging points in the car park and all-electric vehicles being phased into its fleet. The company is currently auditing all packaging and point-of-sale displays to reduce materials and switch to sustainable and biodegradable solutions such as recycled or FSC accredited cardboards.

Passionate in their mission to become the most sustainable eyewear supplier, the company aims to prove that green practices are practical, profitable and attainable, changing the way the optical community thinks and providing choices for practices and patients so that they are empowered to make the right decisions for the future of our planet. One of the founding directors, Jayne Abel, has joined the ground-breaking Sustainability Committee within the OSA to establish strategies, programs and activities within the optical community that will set global standards for eco conscious processes.

Contributing to growing global movements to protect our planet and its people, Eyespace tirelessly continues its aims to offer an effortless solution to those in search of social and ecological change, adding to the growing ripples of environmental revolution. Read more about Eyespace’s Eco Conscious Eyewear here.

Images: Frames from Eyespace’s eco conscious collection; Datura, Ginkgo, Larch.