When you think of prescription glasses frames, the odds are that you’re imagining various types of metals, plastics or combinations of the two. That said, there are much greener materials gaining in popularity. If you’re hoping to shrink your carbon footprint, even the glasses you wear can make a difference.
You may have heard of wood frames and perhaps even bamboo. That said, there’s another material that is gaining ground: hemp. One brand, Hemp Eyewear, is using that natural, renewable material to produce trendy glasses frames.
Hemp is best known for being the same family of plants as marijuana. That said, the marijuana plant and the hemp plant are not the same. A hemp plant is tall and thin. The marijuana plant is short and bushy. Hemp does not have the same medicinal properties as marijuana. However, natural hemp is actually used for a number of sustainable manufacturing goods.
Like bamboo, it’s often considered to be a top choice for sustainable materials as it can grow virtually anywhere, it grows very quickly, it typically doesn’t require any pesticides and it can be used by a broad range of industries. There are currently products ranging from foods to clothing and from auto parts to building materials and stationary all made from hemp. More recently, that list of products made from hemp includes glasses frames.
The frames are made out of the natural fibers of the hemp plant. Hemp Eyewear, founded by Sam Whitten in 2014, is a brand focused on both style and sustainability. The company is based in Edinburgh, Scotland and provides shoppers with a choice outside of plastics and metals.
According to Whitten, he created the company out of a desire to use hemp for something that had never before been done. It was the material that came first, then he sought out the area in which he had both an interest and in which the material would be applicable. That area ended up being eyeglasses.
In his research, he quickly discovered that there wasn’t yet an option for eyewear made out of hemp fibers. He soon jumped into testing at the university workshop where his first frame models were developed. From there, he launched his company.
In Europe, hemp is an industrial crop, which means there isn’t any issue with the legality of growing the plants necessary for the sustainable materials.
The eco-friendly glasses are made entirely out of hemp fibers and are coated with a water-based, petrochemical-free binder. The only waste material produced by the making and use of that coating is steam.
The result is lightweight, strong and sustainable eyeglasses with a very smooth feel, making them as comfortable as they are green.