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ETHICAL EYEWEAR
Written by Vanessa Voltolina - Saturday, 09 January 2010
ICU multiple.jpg
ICU

Compared to svelte shades that shield your eyes during the bright summer months, eyeglasses can sometimes get a bad wrap as being bland and boring. But eyeglass-wearers, don’t despair! There are some new options on the market that will not only help accessorize your outfit, but may even rival the coolest of shades.

Yang Wah Kiang, the managing director of Nanyang Optical, is one of Singapore's largest optical retailers. He’s also a self-taught designer creator of two new brands of high-end designer eyewear. The eco eyewear lines, called Linkskin and Urband, are made with no springs, screws or soldering, to make them stronger and to avoid the age-old problem of screws that loosen. The ethical nature of the glasses is the combination of recycled plastics to make what he calls “the world's first eco-friendly eyewear.”

While earth-friendly brands can sometimes be associated with a high cost, in July 2009, Alessandro Lanaro, CEO of MODO, announced its ECO as the first line of affordable luxury eyewear. The line uses recycled stainless steel and repurposed plastic to create the first collection of eyewear that fuses fashion and sustainability for the stylish and earth conscious consumer.

Modo ECO.jpg
Modo ECO

“More than 120 million Americans use corrective eyewear and approximately 90 million wear sunglasses,” said Lanaro in a release. “This is a huge opportunity to make a difference. The power lies with the retailers to make sustainability attainable for all and that means offering a desirable, quality collection at a fair price.”

From elegant to edgy, flat to curved, and round to square, this line aims to fuse fashion with affordability. ECO also works to repurpose, recycle or reuse materials throughout every step of the product lifecycle boasting a 360-approach to sustainability. In addition to using recycled and repurposed materials to create the frames, the collection is packaged in recycled materials and each new pair is accompanied by an easy to use mail-in recycling kit for old, unwanted frames. For each pair of ECO frames purchased, MODO donates one new tree to nonprofit organization Trees for the Future.

Nanyang Optical Linkskin.jpg
Nanyang Optical Linkskin

Another brand that’s reducing carbon emissions and keeping waste out of landfills is California-based ICU Eyewear, specializing in reading glasses. Starting at $22 a pair, the modern eyeglass designs now come in “eco eyewear” and are made from sustainable products such as recycled metal, reclaimed plastic and bamboo.

In addition to decking out a number of their reading glasses with rhinestones, ICU’s reasonably-priced line also tout a series of themed glasses. Themes include “plaid and holiday pattern” “breast cancer awareness pink ribbon” and “games and puzzles,” meaning that you and your eco-frames can make a statement anywhere you go!

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