Hone Your Off-Duty Model Look With Sunglasses From These Ethical Eyewear Lines

May 9, 2018

With the hours of daylight increasing, I’ve noticed a considerable upswing in the mood of the city where I live—among the people, flowers, birds, everything and everyone. The subway seems less angry and festering; shoulders aren’t hunched but relaxed and open, and eyes are bright and shining the way that they should be—looking up to blue skies. But that seemingly innocent appreciation of the season change is also a signal for one of the most dangerous risks we can expose our bodies to: sun damage.

Getting sufficient quality time in the sun is important for our overall health; low levels of vitamin D, which the skin makes in the presence of sunlight, is linked to a host of diseases including depression, and we all know about the risks of skin cancer from even one serious burn. We’ve become much more aware of sun safety in the last few years, such as the ABCDE self-exam to predict whether a spot may be cancerous and should be examined by a doctor, and even how our protection choices affect the planet. Traditional sunblock has been made with harmful chemicals that damage skin and the environment, leading to developments like Hawaii’s banning of certain formulas that threaten coral and other marine life. Mineral sunscreens avoid both kinds of damage, and there are more and more cruelty-free options available to choose from if you have specific skincare concerns.

Before you settle yourself in the drugstore aisle scope out ingredients, though, you can take another—and even more stylish—step toward sun protection by donning a cool pair of sunglasses. Whether they are regular or prescription lenses, sunglasses not only keep your baby blues (or greens or browns) safe and looking young but also mechanically block out those harmful rays.

Throwing Shade: Sustainable Brands to Give You the Hottest Eyewear, and Eyes, This Summer

Like skin damage, eye damage due to the sun can happen any time of year, not just spring and summer, so you can put aside your judgments of those people who wear sunglasses all year  (they’re actually being incredibly proactive with their health). Overexposure to sunlight can be the cause of:

  • Skin cancer, especially on the lower eyelids with risk of spreading outward to the rest of the eye
  • Cataracts
  • Photokeratitis—the literal burning of the corneas, especially common from tanning beds and sun exposure at high altitudes
  • Premature aging and wrinkles

Eyewear companies are getting hip to the need for shades that talk the talk and walk the walk, and these eco-chic trailblazers stand out for their designs, price point, and social investments.

3 Ethical Sunglasses Brands


You can guarantee that no one else will have your look with a pair of GROWN glasses. Made from hardwoods and bamboo, each with their own unique grain and harvested from FSC-approved sustainable forests, they also boast lenses that block glare. Especially impressive is what they give back: proceeds also go toward eye surgeries and exams as part of their partnership with SEVA Canada, and international eye care charity who have serviced over 3 million people in the world’s poorest nations.


Gypsy sunglasses with polarized lenses, $179

Peep Eyewear

Love the old Hollywood/vintage look and upcycling? Check out Peep from the UK, which repurposes vintage frames AND plants a tree with every purchase. They have a convenient at-home try-on policy, too, where you can check out three of these frames for seven days with free shipping—because sometimes the look you want isn’t the look you need 🙂


Alice by Silhouette, 170 euros


Swell Vision

You can find everything you need for a day at the beach at Swell, a sustainable bamboo company based out of South Carolina. Their clothing, watches, and, yes, sunglasses not only make you feel good but helps advance the cause of a green future by reinvesting in a school in Bali focused on sustainable innovation. I’m not so into swimming myself, but these *floatable* shades might be the thing that gets me in the water!


Alani Floatable Bamboo Sunglasses, $99


Do you have a favorite pair of sunglasses?

Also by Jennifer: Beyond Leggings—How A NYC Editor/Yoga Teacher Dresses Sustainably & Chicly

Related: Feast Your Eyes On These Stunning Vegan Shoes & Bags From 7 Innovative Brands

The Simple Dietary Change That Finally Relieved My Dry Eyes

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Photo: Respective brands, Tyler Nix on Unsplash

Features Editor Jennifer Kurdyla is a New York City girl with Jersey roots and a propensity for getting lost in the urban jungle. An experienced publishing professional, yoga instructor, home chef, sometimes-runner, and writer, she adopted a vegetarian lifestyle in 2008 and became vegan in 2013. She has written for The Harvard Review Online, The Rumpus, and Music & Literature and maintains a wellness-based website, Be Nourished, which features original writing and recipes. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram @jenniferkurdyla, Twitter @jenniferkurdyla, and Pinterest.


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