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Are Sustainable Sunglasses Possible?

At TBD Eyewear, we understand the prominence of sustainability and we've spent the last decade researching materials and designs to create eco-friendly sunglasses and eyeglasses. Discover our journey...

Sustainability is a word as bold as it is common in corporate vocabularies. To be authentic, it's important, first and foremost, that it becomes a core value; indeed, values are a powerful driver when it comes to making significant changes in our business.

For the past ten years at TBD Eyewear, we have been conducting research on materials and designs to create eco-friendly sunglasses and eyeglasses that are durable and kind to the environment. The real turning point was when we introduced bio-acetate for sustainable frames: a biodegradable and fully recyclable material while maintaining all the features and performance of traditional acetate.

As you know, we don't follow trends, which is why we don't consider ourselves a fashion brand in the traditional sense. However, in this industry, we aim to be among the Italian brands championing the value of true sustainable fashion. Spoiler alert: with our new 2024 collection, we're eliminating acetate (the traditional kind) and establishing ourselves as thoroughly sustainable. A small great milestone on our journey. 

Why Sustainability Matters

The European Environment Agency (EEA) acknowledges that changes have been a constant feature of our planet, but asserts that what we are experiencing today distinguishes itself from past changes due to unprecedented causes, determining factors, as well as unprecedented rates and magnitude.

To give meaning to the word sustainability, we turn to the Oxford English Dictionary: it is “the degree to which a process or enterprise is able to be maintained or continued while avoiding the long-term depletion of natural resources."

We can say that a sustainable world is a forward-thinking and attentive world, certainly responsible. And this responsibility falls somewhat on each of us, even more so on a company. That's why we agree that the true meaning of sustainability lies in actions – not so much in definitions.


Andrea Rotundo in the Valle di Cadore with our Welt Eco Honey / Bottle Green 

Starting with Materials: Eco Frames and Green Boxes.

The task at hand may seem daunting, but we can still reverse some negative trends - EEA. Just a few lines ago, we were telling you how, at TBDE, it was necessary to invest in materials, particularly in the bio-acetate used in our frames; it is a formulation based on cellulose extracted from cotton and wood fibers, making it 100% biodegradable and recyclable. It's the result of decades of research, which has also yielded tangible results in lenses and packaging.

Our lenses for men’s and women's sunglasses are biobased, available in green, gray, brown, blue, and orange, containing 39% biologically sourced carbon from castor oil. The transparent presentation lenses are entirely made from biodegradable bioplastic produced from renewable sources, and they are 100% decomposable.

For more sustainable packaging, we opted for our classic green box made from recycled cardboard, guaranteed by FSC certification, ensuring that the box is made from recycled and reclaimed materials.

The hard case, which preserves and protects eyeglasses or sunglasses, features recycled cotton on the outside in the typical TBD Eyewear green, while the inside is lined with PET plastic. This material's strength lies in its ability to be continuously recycled without losing its physical and chemical properties—a valuable ally when choosing to reduce the waste of new resources. Even the microfiber cloth is made from entirely recycled plastic.



Handcrafted in Italy

Sustainable development is complex, encompassing not only environmental but also social and economic sustainability. We must consider the environment, climate, economy, and society as inseparable parts of the same entity. - EEA.

We also pay attention to detail in our relationships with family-run, historic shops, with which we work daily. In fact, perhaps it is precisely here that we have learned it from their meticulousness and naturally affable approach.

They are located in Valle di Cadore, among the Dolomites. Here, artisans hand-assemble the glasses. The rivets are produced by a small Venetian company using molds dating back to the 1930s; they are manually inserted, and each hinge is expertly fastened. Similarly, the cutting of Italian bio acetate sheets and the polishing process, where the frame is smoothed using pieces of wood, pumice stone, and oils, are both done by hand.

For our Italian unisex sunglasses, we are committed to maintaining the highest level of craftsmanship and a short supply chain, entirely handcrafted.


Craftsman working on our handcrafted frame.

Destination: Ethical and Sustainable Fashion

In this brief story, we wanted to convey how ecology and ethics follow the same path toward a common destination: a more fair and respectful fashion.

All of our square, rectangular, and vintage-style sunglasses or eyeglasses have always taken shape from timeless designs so they never go out of style - and can be worn for a long time. We have established a direct connection with the Italian artisans, allowing us to have full control over the supply chain and build authentic relationships with the people we collaborate with.

tbdeyewear-lino-collection-sustainability-journalLino Collection

And the journey to minimize our impact continues.

Take a look at our eco glasses, all made from sustainable materials. Now you know that by choosing us, you support our path to sustainability from Milan to London, from Tokyo to New York.


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