6 Chic, Eco-Friendly Sunglasses Made from Cotton, Castor Oil, and More Cool Materials

Many sunglasses brands are using the most unexpected materials to make shades that look high-end.


Apr. 17 2024, Published 11:57 a.m. ET

Closeup of woman in sunglasses with afro on sunny day
Source: iStock

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Aren't we lucky to live in an age with so many legitimately chic options for a building a green wardrobe? Case in point: eco-friendly sunglasses, which have grown by leaps and bounds in terms of aesthetics. The technology used to make eco-friendly sunglasses has also gotten insanely cool. Sure, there are recycled plastics and metals in the mix, but environmentally-conscious brands are also employing unexpected materials like castor seeds and cotton to make plant-based acetate frames that look identical to the ones produced by high-end fashion houses like Miu Miu and Chloé.

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Now, I would say to ditch your traditional shades in favor of an eco-friendly pair, but it would be unfortunate wording considering the amount of plastic waste already littering our landfills and oceans. So I'll simply say, if you want to change your "shady" ways and put your money where your mouth is — or where your eyes are – then consider investing in a pair of these stylish eco-friendly sunglasses when your current pair breaks or goes missing.

Covry Trix Stone Sunglasses

One of my favorite eco-friendly eyewear brands is Covry, founded by two women on a mission to create eyeglasses and sunglasses to suit different face shapes and sizes. To this end, their patented Elevated Fit design ensures that each pair of Covry glasses sits high on your face and away from your cheeks. These tortoise-shell Trix Stone sunglasses are handcrafted of acetate made using cotton and wood pulp and come in a vegan leather case. All Covry glasses are made in small batches to reduce overstock waste.

$125 at Covry
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Pela Solana Sunglasses

What happens when one man is inspired to make the world a better place for his son and for all families? He researches plastic alternatives and then founds Pela, a company that produces, among other things, sunglasses made using plant-based materials like Flaxstic (aka flax straw waste) and with zero toxins. These Solana Sunglasses (here in Lavender, but they also come in pinkish Sunset) are produced using less water and CO2 emissions, and they can be sent back to Pela for recycling.

$38 at Pela

Proof Caldera Aluminum Sunglasses

If a metal frame is more your look, these Caldera Aluminum shades by Proof Eyewear are the eco-friendly way to go. They're handmade using recycled aluminum and cotton-based acetate, and they're great for hot, sunny days thanks to their polarized lenses with broad-spectrum UV protection and their sweat-resistant construction. They even come with the sweetest inscription inside: "Every moment matters."

$95 at Proof Eyewear
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Zeal Campo Sunglasses

Zeal has a lot of eco-friendly sunglass options that are made using a variety of planet-loving methods and materials. Windsor sunglasses — here in black but also available in tortoise and translucent options — are just one of Zeal's options composed of Z-Resin, a lightweight, plant-based polymer made from the castor plant. These shades also have polarized lenses to protect your peepers, of course.

$159 at Zeal

Eco Jasmine Sunglasses

When castor seeds are compressed into castor oil, it's not only great for your skin — it's also great for your eyewear, as it's the main ingredient of Eco Eyewear's Biobased material, which is what these fabulous Jasmine sunglasses are made of. Eco incorporates sustainability into every accessory, too, including cases, lenses, and cloths. Your purchase a pair of these sunglasses, Eco will even plant a tree!

$135 at Eco Eyewear

Cloudfield Wood Frame Sunglasses

Fans of the Ray-Ban Wayfarer will be head over heels for this Cloudfield pair made of bamboo — which, in addition to being renewable, is hard to break, even if you accidentally sit on them or squish them (luckily, the case they come with is made of bamboo, too). The polarized lenses offer UVA and UVB protection and come in tinted or mirrored finishes. "One year later, still in great shape," one shopper reported.

Shop it — $25
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