Monday, February 9, 2009

I can see clearly now ...

Do you wear eyeglasses? How about sunglasses? Perhaps you use reading glasses and, to ensure that you are never without them, keep a pair at home, at work, and in the car.

Most of us have them ... to assist failing vision, correct vision problems, protect our eyes from the sun or ... simply to make a fashion statement. As our vision (or preference) changes, we get new ones. Unfortunately, the old ones usually get tossed out. According to Unite for Sight, over 4 million pairs of eyeglasses are thrown away each year in North America. That's a lot of spectacles in landfills. Is there a better way? Well sure!

Typically, both frames and lenses are made out of plastic. This is a lightweight and safe option ... and the plastic used is recyclable. While plastic, of any kind, is hard on the earth ... it is difficult to find other, earth friendly, materials for eyeglasses ... especially for the lenses. Yes, glass would be a better environmental choice but it is heavy and comes with safety concerns. There are some companies who offer Eco-friendly frames made out of recycled materials. There are others who sell frames made out of sustainable materials like bamboo. Unfortunately, they are hard to find. It doesn't mean that we shouldn't ask providers for Eco-friendly options ... I'm a firm believer that the more we ask, letting them know that there is a demand, the more they will consider meeting that demand. Until mainstream providers offer us "green" alternatives, however, most of us are stuck with plastic eyeglasses.

That being said ... let's consider some ideas for minimizing the environmental impact of eyewear:

  • Instead of buying new frames when a prescription changes, try having the new lens inserted into the frames you have. Or, if you want a "new look", browse thrift stores and garage sales for frames. One note ... be sure to call your eyeglass provider ahead of time ... not all of them will accommodate this request.

  • Did your glasses break? Try replacing the broken part only. For example, if a frame breaks, try to find something compatible to the existing lens. Again ... call your provider to be sure they'll work with you.

  • If both the lens and frame are broken, recycle them in the plastics container. Remove any metal screws or components first.

  • If the glasses are in good shape, consider donating them. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 153 million people around the world need glasses for nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. 90% of all people who need glasses live in low- and middle-income families. To donate, check out these programs:
  • OneSight takes usable eyeglasses and distributes them to people in need throughout the world. According to their website, they need "to collect and recycle 1.2 million pairs of used eyewear annually in order to support 20 Global Clinics each year". In North America, bring used eyewear to any LensCrafters, Pearle Vision, Sunglass Hut, Target Optical or Sears Optical to participate in their program. Or, click HERE for a drop off site near you. For drop off locations in other countries click HERE for Asia Pacific ... HERE for Europe ... and HERE for the rest of the world.

  • The Lions Club, a non-profit organization, donates eyeglasses and vision services to people throughout the world. Click HERE to find out how to donate to their program.

Sometimes, it's the most common items that offer us the easiest ways to be kinder to the earth. Follow these ideas and I'm sure you'll "see" a greener world.

By the way ... Earth Hour is coming up. So mark your calendars for March 28th @ 8:30 pm and tell all your friends. To learn more, click on the link in the side bar.

As always ... I'd love to hear from you!


  1. Thanks for the post and info on who accepts used eyeglasses. We will definitely recycle a few old pairs we have.

  2. I would be lost without my glasses. Plus blind as a bat too!
    The Lions Club is a great organization who has done a bunch of tremendous things here in my community. I always donate my used glasses to them.
    Thanks for the tips about glasses and all. I did for several years reuse one pair over and over again. but alas they broke and could not be replaced. Lord knows I miss them.
    Take care and keep posting those terrific tips.

  3. Several years ago when my mom to Peru she had a group from the lions club go. I gave my mom all of my sons old glasses. My son has eye problem beyond belief and we pay a lot for his glasses. I sure hope some other child got some use out of those glasses.

    Another thing I do is I keep one pair of his old glasses in case his new glasses break. Then we can get parts off the old glasses or he can wear the old glasses until his new ones come in.


  4. Some great suggestions.

    I have my vision glasses coated so they become sunglasses when I'm outdoors. Cuts down on one pair of frames anyway.

  5. Nice post. I wore glasses for about 20 years before I got LASIK. I was SO happy to donate both of my pairs to the Lions Club! Bye bye glasses!!

  6. I've seen Lions Club Donation Boxes in various public locations. A nice way that we don't regularly think of to help those in need - the gift of sight.

  7. Those are pawsome tips. ;)
    My hooman's office is taking part in Earth Hour too.

    ~ Bae

  8. I don't wear glasses (yes even at 61 I don't need them)........but my wife does....I'll pass this on to her

  9. It has always been a practice for me to replace just the lenses or frames (whichever is the problem) for years. It is called being thrifty! My whole family wears glasses, and it cost a lost to replace them yearly.

  10. I'm 38 and my eyesight is fantastic. Will be interesting to see if/when it falters.

  11. I like the post, I don't wear glasses though but I shall spread the word! I can't find the link to "earth hour"?

  12. Nina E J: Here's the link to Earth Hour:

    Take Care!


  13. Make sure your optician or optometrist is honest. Most are dishonest and tell you that you need new frames, just because the previous lens will not fit the new frame, or whatever other excuses.

    And just to share something my ophthalmologist friend shared with me... your eyes' long-sightedness will improve as you age, to the point you won't need glasses anymore! So watch out also for those opticians or optometrists that keep prescribing a higher power for you on every visit.

  14. SF, once again, you have drawn our attention to the obvious. These, along with toothbrushes, etc, are things that we all overlook.

    Good post.

    I have put a link on Tomus for Earth Day


  15. I love how I learn the unexpected here!

  16. John that doesnt work for everyone. My prescription gets stronger every few years. Im nearsighted. If you are farsighted the prescription can get weaker as you age. Benefit of cataract surgery some people dont need glasses after surgery!

  17. Thanks for all the info. I did not realize there were that many places to drop off my old eyeglasses! This makes it much easier to find a location near me.

  18. You're full of great ideas! Donating old glasses is a great thing to do. Thanks for the non-US links too. I'm sure I have some old pairs lying around.