BY KATIE - MYGREENPOD, 06 Sept '19

Want to put an end to poverty, protect the planet and still look bang on trend?

This article first appeared in our Restoration Revolution issue of MyGreenPod Magazine, distributed with The Guardian on 06 Sept 2019. Click here to subscribe to our digital edition and get each issue delivered straight to your inbox

A pair of glasses is recognised as an effective tool to fight poverty by empowering the wearer to read, learn and work. Yet according to the Vision Impact Institue, 2.5 billion people around the world who need vision correction remain uncorrected. In some countries in Africa, 98% of the population can’t get access to eyecare.

To raise awareness of this global issue, John Pritchard decided to create an eyewear brand that would make a natural connection: for every pair of sunglasses sold, Pala Eyewear would give a pair of spectacles to someone who needs them.

‘Our planet is under a lot of resource stress right now, and economic disparities between countries appear to be widening rather than narrowing’, John tells us. ‘For me it was about creating a brand, a product, that had purpose and connected consumers to both of these key issues – to minimise impact on the planet and to maximise the impact on people.’

Recycled frames

Pala has three recycled frames this season, including the Asha (main image), in addition to bio-acetate frames that are oil free and use no harmful chemicals. In 2020 all Pala’s new pieces will be made from Italian bio-acetate and have polarised lenses. The focus will be on timeless designs rather than styles that quickly go out of fashion and are possibly resigned to landfill.

Click here to find out why Asha Eyewear’s Asha Sunglasses are a My Green Pod Hero

The team at Pala is doing a lot of great things already, but instead of trying to greenwash customers John has been brave enough to say the company is not completely there yet.

‘Transparency is essential to any brand that wishes to talk about its sustainable credentials’, John explains. ‘As we have grown, we have always said it how it is. We’re doing some things well, but we can improve in other areas. You can never stand still as a sustainable brand and therefore we need to acknowledge where we are coming up short and innovate where possible. If you communicate this, then I think customers appreciate the honesty.’

A request

In the spirit of transparency and continued improvement, John has a request to make. ‘I’m currently looking at how we can make eyewear an overall more circular process’, he says.

‘At the moment there is currently no effective way to dispose of old frames; too many individual component parts must be manually broken down by a human (at least cost effectively).

‘I feel there must be a bit of tech out there that can grind and separate the components of a frame to be reused again for different purposes. I would love to hear about suggestions, so please drop us an email if you have any!’

Drop John a line at hello@palaeyewear.com with any ideas for separating and recycling the components of sunglasses.