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In the ceaseless time-warp that is 2020, one marker of seasonality has endured: the summer sun. As I’ve gotten more creative with my pastimes in this socially distanced reality, I’ve also found myself often working, playing, and relaxing outdoors. Throughout all seasons and states of the world, however, I’ve never managed to find a pair of reliable and stylish sunglasses. It’s not only that I’m sartorially selective (although I definitely am) -- I’m also environmentally-minded. For years, I’ve hunted thrift and consignment stores for sunglasses, determined to make a purchase that wouldn’t add to the vast quantity of discarded sunglasses that pollute landfills and, you guessed it, contribute to the destruction of our one and only planet. Millions of tons of plastic waste live in landfills or natural ecosystems, and nearly 8 million tons of plastic are dumped into our oceans each year. These figures are daunting, and I hoped that my thrifting habits could at least partially curb such massive waste.
Pela gave me what I didn’t know I always deserved: the world’s first 100% biodegradable sunglasses, and a committed relationship to a pair of shades.
This, of course, was and is a losing game. I never found a quality pair I could commit to. Worse, none of them fit quite right, and would eventually die the distasteful (and wasteful) death destined for most sunglasses. Having lived my life without a dependable pair of sunglasses, Pela gave me what I didn’t know I always deserved: the world’s first 100% biodegradable sunglasses, and a committed relationship to a pair of shades.
Seeing The World Through Rose-Colored (Waste-Free) Lenses
Jeremy Lang, Pela’s founder, first envisioned these eco-conscious glasses while on a family trip to Hawaii ten years ago. Met with the realities of plastic pollution on the otherwise picture-perfect sand, Lang decided to develop an alternative to plastic that could be used in everyday products. Pela’s thoughtful packaging references its creation story: each box of sunglasses opens to reveal a seafoam, beachy interior with a playful invitation to “Dive In.” And its design doesn’t abandon the Pela mission -- all packaging is plastic-free and made out of recycled (and recyclable) materials. A pair of sunglasses that I can wear to the beach and know won’t turn up as waste in the water? Okay, fine, you caught my eye!
Pela sunglasses are made in two classic styles: the Sulu and the Bonito. I was first charmed by Pela's Sulu Collection. With a cool rounded but structured frame and my absolute favorite colorway -- a cool seashell grey -- it was love at first sight (I will continue to make vision puns until forcibly stopped). They’re just as stylish and even more sleek in a black tortoise. More than the style, however, it was the immaculate fit of the glasses that won me over (after, of course, the fact that these glasses don’t leave a trace of waste). Pela includes specific lens, bridge, and temple measurements on each product page to ensure not just a comfortable fit, but one that keeps these glasses secure and elegant whether you’re running along the water or lying in the sand.
Looking Good and Fitting Better
I am nothing if not a diligent journalist. I took my Sulus on a test “drive” on foot, embarking on my daily essential power walk. Beyond the confidence boost of my new Pelas, my walk became a jaunt when I realized just how sturdy these babies are. It was a novel (and awesome) sensation to sport a pair of glasses that did substantial good for the future of our planet which simultaneously fit with security and ease.
Even the lenses (and the hinges, and metal bits, and yes, every part of these glasses) biodegrade in a landfill -- what Pela calls a “graceful end of life.” The style, the ethos, the environmental care -- impossibly chic.
And I would be remiss not to mention the full-spectrum UVA/UVB protection on these lenses. As a woman with light blue eyes and a penchant for looking at or near the sun, it’s not an overstatement to say that these glasses have changed the way I see the world (literally). And even the lenses (and the hinges, and metal bits, and yes, every part of these glasses) biodegrade in a landfill -- what Pela calls a “graceful end of life.” The style, the ethos, the environmental care -- impossibly chic.
This Sustainability Is No Optical Illusion
Pela is wary of greenwashing, or using eco-friendliness as little more than a marketing tool. From its manufacturing practices to the materials of the sunglasses themselves, Pela actively strives to combat waste and pollution in the consumer products industry. Pela partners with local businesses and resources, manages inventory to minimize waste and excess, and manufactures all products with fair wages and safe practices. Not only are the Sulu and Bonito sunglasses (and lenses) completely 100% biodegradable, but at their fateful end-of-life, the glasses can be returned through the Pela 360 program. Pela will upcycle or recycle the glasses and lenses, keeping them entirely out of the landfill. (But, if you choose to dispose of them yourself, they’ll leave no trace on the landfill anyways because -- say it with me -- 100% biodegradable).
Not sold on the sunglasses? Already have a pair of wasteful shades you love? Pela's frames are designed to be easily swapped out for prescription lenses or blue-light filtering lenses. Transitioning from the outdoors to the in-office has never been easier (and more environmentally sound).
Five More Reasons to Love Pela
- Pela is approved by Mother Earth herself -- by purchasing a pair of 100% biodegradable Sulus or Bonitos, you’ll contribute to a cleaner, greener future for our planet.
- If you’re an environmental overachiever (as we all should be), send back your old pair of Pelas (or your old pair of plastic glasses) and Pela will upcycle or recycle them for you with their Pela 360 program!
- Pela is a certified B Corporation, Climate-Neutral Certified, and a member of 1% For The Planet, dedicated to doing good across the board.
- Over 640,000 people have switched to Pela’s biodegradable glasses, preventing more than 330,000 pounds of plastic from being produced.
- Featured in Forbes, Martha Stewart, CNN, and BuzzFeed, Pela’s glasses are the only waste-free shades to fit seamlessly into your sustainable lifestyle, emphasis on the style.