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Ten Companies Making Eyewear From Ocean Trash

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It is said that by the year 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. In a study last year, it estimated that eight million metric tons of human plastic waste enter the oceans FROM LAND each year. The 2015 Coastal Cleanup garnered more than 18 million pounds of trash. While there are several ‘ocean cleaning machines’ the bottom line is what to do with all the trash?

Along with apparel, there are few companies that have turned to the ocean for eyewear:

Fish Scale eyeglasses: Back in 2012 at the Royal College of Art graduate Erik De Laurens has made swimming goggles and spectacles out of fish scales from fishing waste.

Fish Scale Eyewear

Salmon Skin: Karun’s Salmon Skin Side Shields are made from discarded Salmon Skin in canneries. They are treated so they do not have an odor. Fish skins have been used for centuries for accessories, embellishments and clothing.

Wood and Salmon Skin Side Shields

Sea Shells: This isn’t really trash, and ecologically speaking there are many shells from restaurants that could be reused. (Oysters, crab and the like) Abalone and sea shells are not really common in eyewear but seem to be on an upward trend. Several companies such as Hera, Shwood and Eye DNA offer sea shell eyewear. For those that that might be concerned about the Eco-Friendliness of picking sea shells, see an article on Green Eco Services.

Shwoods’ sunglasses are made in the USA and they have people from Etsy picking sea-shells and reselling them. The Sea Shells are layered over a wood core.


Eye DNA Abalone surface with a wood core.


Hera  Art and Luxury eyewear company is made with FSC certified wood and mother of pearl layers.

Hera Art and Luxury with FSC wood, acetate temples and mother of pearl

Algae/Kelp: Both Kelp and Algae are being used for many products including fuel and medicine. Naoned is the first eyewear company that we know that is turning Algae into Eyewear.

Naoned Eyewear

Ghost Nets are one of the many bains of the sea and one of the top killers of millions of sea animals a year. Two companies are collecting ghost nets and reusing and making Oceanic Eyewear (see Washed ashore Fishing Lines )

A collaborative effort is between Karun and Bureo Skateboards who also make skateboards from fishing lines. Called the Ocean Collection and they were launched via Kickstarter. (I ordered a pair for my brother for his brag factor.) The lenses are Carl Zeiss Vision Lenses.

See2Sea also launched via crowd-sourcing is also making sunglasses from abandoned fishing nets in Spain. They collect 1 ton of fishing nets every three (3) days and recycle for these trend sunglasses. Made in Italy

Ocean Plastic Trash: Include plastic bottles, bottle caps, food wrappers. I know that very easily I could pick up 100 plastic bottles and 100 plastic bottle caps per every hour spent picking up beach trash.

There are several companies who are trying to clean up ocean plastic and make eyewear. See Plastic Differently by Norton Point. Another company launched via crowd-sourcing. I also ordered a pair of sunglasses to give away. Very cool with a plasticky wavy surface.

  • Each sunglass eliminates 1lb of plastic from the ocean
  • 5% reinvested into ocean clean-up, awareness, and R&D for new uses

Norton Project

Milk bottles, beach trash and plastics: Australia retailer Dresden Optics is also making eyeglasses from trash which include beach trash. This is what they say on their website:

Dresden’s regular frames are made from fully recyclable nylon. We’ve also made frames from milk bottle lids and beer keg caps donated by local cafes and brewers. We’ve even moulded them from plastic rubbish washed up on Byron Bay’s shores…

Our search for a plastic that wasn’t already being recycled has continued and recently we struck gold. We’re rapt to have started trials of making frames from ‘ghost nets’ discarded by trawlers and washed up on the beaches of Arnhem Land. The same amazing durability that is so devastating to sea life makes this nylon ideal for us, as it’s high performance and quite stretchy. And a super-high proportion of the net material can be recycled. 

A Pop Up store is bringing awareness to beach trash by mean of a mobile pop up store selling eyeglasses.

Dresden Mobile by Alexander Symes Architect is an education tool to spread the word about closed loop recycling systems and eye health.

Watch a video here: Dresden Optics Video 

Hopefully we see more reuse ideas. Sunglasses are one the top ways to protect ones vision. What a great way to help save the environment and your vision in an eco-chicly way.

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