Looking to reduce your environmental impact by searching for eco-friendly sunglasses? You’ve landed on the right page. 

And if you’re still on the fence, we hate to break it to you, but the conventional sunglasses you may be wearing are way more uncool than they look. Did you know that the world produces more than one tonne of plastic for every person alive today? 

The plastics in your sunnies are adding to the increasing ocean plastic pile. 

Now get this. When you’re mindful of the materials you’re using, you can still keep the obsession with your favourite fashion item AND reduce your carbon footprint. It’s a win-win situation.  

With many small sustainable sunglasses brands cropping up in the market this isn’t that challenging to do. 

However, not all sustainable blocks are created equal. And this is where Joplins come in. As a trailblazer in the ethical eyewear space, we turn to plant-based material alternatives to offer quality, fashion, and sustainable sunnies

Read on to learn more. 

What Are Eco-Friendly Sunglasses Made Of?

Eco-friendly sunglasses are made from materials that are compostable or biodegradable. These materials can be decomposed by living organisms without creating pollution. Or they’re made from materials that can be recycled. 

Many sustainable brands also make sure their sunglasses are made without harmful chemicals. 

The types of materials used for environmentally-friendly sunglasses vary greatly. They can be divided into three major categories:

  • Organic-based materials such as hemp, cork fabric, and bamboo which are fully compostable. A certain material gets bonus points if it’s also sustainably sourced. So, you have items made from reclaimed wood or up-cycled denim which have been used before and repurposed.
  • Recycled plastics—although not even biodegradable—they’re still considered eco-friendly. How so? Remember, it’s always better to use recycled materials instead of virgin-sourced. By wearing recycled plastics blocks you’ll be saving some extra plastic from landfills. 
  • Bioplastics such as cellulose acetate might not be as sustainable as organic materials are. Still, it’s a more biodegradable option than petroleum-based plastics.

Bamboo Sunglasses 

Bamboo sunglasses are the product of choice for the most eco-conscious consumer—it’s just that you can’t get more green than that. They’re not only composted at end-of-life (FYI, compostable products require less energy and generate fewer greenhouse gas emissions during the manufacturing process).

There’s this extra level of them being sustainable and it's because they’re made from one of the most renewable resources on the planet. Did you know bamboo takes as little as three to five years to grow to maturity? 

To top that off, bamboo makes for some of the most resistant and durable eyewear pieces available. Its strength-to-weight ratio also makes eyewear pieces extra lightweight and wearable

Wooden Sunglasses

Wood is a sustainable material and as such is a great alternative to plastic. That’s exactly why more and more people who are stepping away from plastic sunglasses are transitioning to natural wood.

Wood is still a better option when compared to other materials, such as acetate, steel, and metal frames. This is because wooden frames biodegrade naturally. Plus, they use up less energy in the production processes and they’re recyclable to boot. 

Wood is also sturdy and resistant to wear and tear, water, pollution, corrosion, and heat. 

Joplins sustainably sourced wooden sunglasses feature polarised lenses and easily wearable laid-back style. These plant-based material sunnies are biodegradable, durable, and handcrafted piece by piece.

joplins wooden sunglasses

Bio Acetate Sunglasses 

Bio-acetate frames are an eco-friendly version of petroleum-based plastics. They're also a good alternative to regular acetate frames made from semi-synthetic material. While regular acetate is derived from wood pulp and cotton, its production requires oil-based plasticisers such as acetic acid, acetic anhydride, and sulphuric acid which are harmful to the environment.

Bio-acetate, on the flip side, is created without the use of petrochemicals. Its raw materials include cellulose acetate (derived from wood) and a non oil-based, naturally derived plasticiser (derived from citric acid esters). Importantly, both of these materials are obtained from the organic origin and renewable sources. 

From the vantage point of an eco-conscious consumer, bio-acetate sunglasses are more sustainable than both plastic and regular acetate ones. To give you a little perspective on this, let’s see how these three materials biodegrade: 

  • Plastic—can take hundreds of years to decompose in soil or water
  • Regular acetate—will bio-degrade in under a year in compost and water environments
  • Bio-acetate—will dissolve in an industrial compost environment in only 115 days

However, bio-acetate will take 3 years to biodegrade in the natural environment. Though not the perfect sustainable material (wood and bamboo get a few more bonus points from the sustainability perspective), it still qualifies as one of the best eco-friendly options out there. 

It accounts for some of the most high-quality eyewear available that’s also super robust and beats wood and bamboo in terms of durability or flexibility, which means it's also sustainable in the sense you will buy less sunglasses during a lifetime. 

Joplins bio acetate frames are hypoallergenic and made without the use of oil-based plasticisers.

joplins bioacetate sunglasses

How to Choose the Right Sustainable Sunglasses for You? 

Now, let’s say you’ve settled down on going green and you’re thinking to yourself: What are my options, how to choose the best sustainable sunnies? The criteria below will help you narrow down your choices.


When buying a pair of acetate glasses make sure it’s the most sustainable option available. Namely, specifically look for the “bio-acetate term” when checking the labels on your chosen pair of sunnies. 

Bio-acetate is made from plant-based cellulose and is obtained mostly from wood (though you can also find cotton-based acetate). 

When such sunglasses biodegrade, the process is much less harmful to the environment. Naturally derived plasticisers which are added to bio-acetate sunnies make the process of biodegradation entirely toxin free. Bingo! 

A well-made pair of bio acetate sunnies will tick the boxes regarding other sustainability aspects listed below. Make sure it’s:  

  • Made from plant-based material.
  • Manufactured under ethical working conditions (check whether it’s manufactured under the European Union’s REACH chemical guidelines)
  • Carried by a socially and environmentally sustainable brand that embraces a giveback element in their policies.  
  • Packed in a neat sustainable packaging that’s biodegradable or recyclable.

Now, care for a good pair of wooden sunglasses? Your go-to fashion item should be made from reclaimed/up-cycled wood (wood that’s been repurposed). 

Alternatively, search for brands that carry an “FSC-Certified” label on their eco-friendly items. This label is a tell-tale sign the blocks you’re looking at are sourced from sustainably-managed forests.

Joplins carry a selection of plant-based material sunnies with polarised lenses which work both to protect your eyes and the environment.

Our unique fashion-designed handmade sunglasses are made from sustainably sourced wood. However, we also carry a fashion collection that features a blend of bio-acetate and wood.

bio acetate glassess

Top-Notch Quality

Next, you want your plant-based blocks to be of top-notch quality. So, how you judge things here is not only by how a piece looks. You want your pair to be a perfect blend of form and functionality.   

Sustainable brands like Joplins use high-quality plant-based compounds in their eyewear pieces to achieve durability. 

Our good quality-price ratio sunglasses are very strong and hard to break. They’re scratch-resistant, shock-resistant, and come with a maximum UV protection lens.

joplins style

Uncompromised Style

When choosing a good piece of sustainable eyewear, you should by no means compromise your fashion and style. And in most cases, you won’t have to. What’s most important is to get your hands on a design that will make you feel good in your skin. 

With a pair of Joplin's sunnies, our designers are always on their toes, making sure our eco-friendly sunnies are fresh and fashionable. 

Check out our 30+ selection of polarised sunglasses and blue light glasses on our online shop or in the closest ratailer to you.

blue light glasses


Are Plastics Biodegradable?

There are different plastics types and most of them do not biodegrade to any extent. Certain types of plastics will biodegrade slowly when exposed to air, water, and light. 

Finally, what to look for if for some reason or another you decide to stick to plastic blocks? Always pick recycled plastic instead of virgin plastic. Some brands use fishing nets and discarded bottles to create their pairs. 

Is Bio Acetate Better Than Plastic?

Bio acetate is better than conventional plastic for several reasons. It’s more durable, flexible, lightweight and it’s also stronger. Additionally, a pair of bio acetate sunnies is also more sustainable than a pair of conventional plastic ones.  

What Is Bio Acetate?

Eco-friendly bio acetate is a cellulosic material. It’s made from wood sourced from sustainably managed forests or cotton linters and mixes with a naturally derived plasticiser (citric acid esters).

What is Citric Acid Esters? 

Citric acid esters are a great choice for eco-friendly products. Not only are they derived from natural sources but they also have positive effects on the environment. For example, citric acid esters can reduce the use of synthetic preservatives which in turn reduces production waste. They can also be used to replace harsher chemical ingredients that could be harmful to the environment. 

The Only Sustainable Sunglasses Brand You’ll Ever Need

So, there you go—this is how to navigate different material options in the sustainable sunnies niche. We hope this piece will help you reach an educated decision about your eco-friendly blocks without compromising on either sustainability or style. 

Through knowledge is how you reduce your environmental impact.

Joplins is a Lisboa-based company brand that’s built on three important pillars—quality, fashion, and sustainability. We aim to offer ethical eyewear at affordable prices. 

kickstarter campaign

Aside from using sustainable materials and aiming to reduce waste, we do our share of offsetting too. 

At Joplins for each favourite accessories item you buy, we plant 3 trees and remove 1kg of plastic from the beaches.

ecologi joplins

Want to see a better world in tinted colour and do it super-fast? Joplins is your one-stop shop. And: we offer free international delivery.

Our sunglasses Virtual Mirror will help you find a sustainable solution that suits you to a tee. So pick a pair now that will help you radiate your natural confidence. 

August 16, 2022 — Rafael Dutra

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