If you’ve ever patted yourself frantically for your shades or suddenly realized that they are still sitting on the beach where you were just enjoying some time in the sun, you’re not alone. Sunglasses go missing all the time, and are easily one of the most common items to turn up in lost-and-found boxes or to be seen strewn around the beach. In fact, sunglasses go missing more often than not, which is why lots of people carry around a few backups just in case.
Sunglasses seem to get lost for a few key reasons. Firstly, these basic accessories are relatively lightweight, which means it can be hard to tell if a pair has fallen off the top of a head or slipped out of a pocket. Second, most of us take our sunglasses off at some point without really thinking too much of it. Because we are so accustomed to removing and replacing our sunglasses throughout the day, it is pretty easy to set them down and walk away without a second thought.
Because sunglasses are relatively inexpensive and easy to replace as compared to say, a cellphone or purse, the loss of a pair of sunglasses usually feels like nothing more than a minor inconvenience. Unfortunately, this blasé attitude towards the value of a pair of sunglasses means that little has been done to combat the problem, and every year, thousands of pairs of plastic sunglasses end up in landfills.
Acrylic Sunglasses & The Environment
Today, most sunglasses are made from acrylic, a thermoplastic considered ideal for its combined tensile strength and lightweight. Acrylic is commonly used as an alternative to glass, and can be colored or left clear depending on the desired effect. Acrylic also happens to be fairly durable and relatively difficult to scratch, making it ideal for use in manufacturing accessories.
Unfortunately, acrylic and other thermoplastics aren’t just durable while in use, they’re durable once they’ve been discarded or lost as well. Plastic products like acrylic sunglasses can take hundreds of years to begin decomposing, at which point they can also begin to leach harsh chemicals into the surrounding soil or water. As plastic begins to degrade, it breaks down to smaller fragments called ‘microplastics’, which in turn can survive for decades.
In oceans, plastic particles float freely for miles, swept along in the undercurrent to every corner of the ocean. Microplastics can become lodged within coral reefs, accidentally swallowed by sea creatures, or can simply exist as floating debris and pollution. These bits of plastic may be small, but their impact on the health of our environment is not.
Plastic pollution is no small issue, and every year more than 8 million tons of plastic are illegally dumped into our oceans by corporations intent on avoiding the ethical disposal of their waste.
Each time a pair of sunglasses is lost or discarded, another piece of plastic ends up in a landfill.
At Pela, we are constantly on the hunt for new ways to reduce plastic consumption and waste, which is why we are so excited about our latest project. We’ve had our eye on the problem of lost sunglasses and their contribution to global plastic pollution for some time, and now we are proud to introduce the first-ever pair of 100% biodegradable sunglasses!
Our design team has been working tirelessly to create the perfect eco-friendly alternative to traditional plastic sunglasses, which has included many hours of head-scratching, experimentation, and enthusiasm for finding an epic solution. We have completely done away with those pesky metal bits that have made other “eco-friendly” sunglasses difficult to dispose of in the past, replacing all these components with fully biodegradable materials to give them what we call a “graceful end of life.”
Graceful End of Life
Our goal in creating a line of landfill biodegradable sunglasses is to eliminate the centuries of pollution committed against the planet each time a pair of sunglasses ends up in the garbage. Sunglasses being misplaced is in many ways an inevitability, so we figured we might as well try to solve at least one part of the equation. By making our sunglasses landfill biodegradable, we ensure they won’t end up leaching toxic chemicals into the environment if they end their life in the garbage
When a pair of Pela biodegradable sunglasses ends up in landfill they will biodegrade so you’ll never have to worry that your old sunglasses lasting for hundreds of years
Upcycle with the Pela 360 Program
We created our landfill biodegradable sunglasses so that they won’t last for hundreds of years in landfill and so have a more graceful end of like than conventional sunglasses, but that doesn’t mean we’re encouraging you to be careless with your accessories! There’s a better way to get rid of these fashion-forward shades once you are ready for a new pair, and that’s by sending your old pair into the Pela 360 Program.
Our customers send in their old phone cases, smartwatch bands, and biodegradable sunglasses to the Pela 360 Program where we upcycle and reuse the materials to create awesome new products! If the items can’t be reused, we make sure all materials are appropriately recycled, composted, or disposed of.