Life without Plastic

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Zero-waste and Plastic-free Vision

The links in the post below may be affiliate links. Read the full disclosure.

Modern eyeglasses are not the plastic-free and zero-waste option you're looking for. They are, in fact, almost entirely made of plastic, from the tips of the frames to the lenses themselves. Even the cloths to clean them to the carrying cases are usually plastic, ever breakable and only down-cyclable.

Contact lenses and assorted trash are currently recyclable, but are still plastic and will only be downcycled like all other plastic.

I recently encountered the oh-so-disposable vision monster head-on with my "yearly" eye exam.  There were many wasteful hurdles to overcome with the exam itself, such as the disposable tissue to help with tearing from eye dilation. Doh, I should've refused the tissue I didn't need!

I should have suggested natural dilation by turning off the light or waited for the machine rather than accept the tiny plastic bottle that dilation drops come in. My first optometrist always was able to dilate my eyes naturally by leaving me in the dark for a few minutes.

After the appointment was my opportunity to refuse new glasses, or upgrade to plastic-free and zero-waste ones that would last longer. The upgrade would require more than just buying off the shelf, this would require a lot of homework.

Is it even possible to buy glasses without plastic anymore? Would I just have to accept plastic glasses or be nearsighted?

Or could I Refuse vision enhancement and try to improve my sight naturally? Yes actually, Wellness Mama has an excellent post on this subject. What if my vision still isn't 20/20 and I need new glasses?

Could I Reduce how many frames I buy, and only replace as needed a few times in my life?  Maybe, but wouldn't they still have those plastic tips and bridge rests that break? Actually, I could choose wooden frames as they don't use plastic bridge rests or tip covers, and wouldn't break easily and need to be replaced as often. Okay, as long as I also refuse the microfiber cleaning cloth (plastic) and buy cruelty-free silk instead, I just might be able to buy what I want, right?

Okay, but what about the lenses themselves? Aren't all of them plastic? Even buying wooden frames come with plastic lenses, right? Unless...unless I ask for either real glass lenses or no lenses if they can't offer glass. Does anyone offer actual glass lenses anymore???

Jackpot! I can Reuse my frames I bought and replace my eyeglass lenses with actual glass. This website sells glass lenses and makes repairs so you don't need to replace the whole pair, sweet! Non-scratch "coating" comes with it though... they're seriously coating the glass lenses with plastic. Custom order no non-scratch coating, check.

Doggone it, what do I do with my old plastic pair though? I'll have eco-guilt up the wazoo if I just throw them away... Google what to do with old eyeglasses... Looks they can be Recycled by donating to the Lion's Club for someone who needs them. Luckily my new pair will have glass and broken glass should be able to be recycled with other glass if they ever break....

Wait, how to dispose of my new ones once they break? Well, they are wooden so they should be able to Rot/be compostedAssuming the wooden frames can't be repaired, reused for a craft project, or recycled for those in need, they can now be composted, along with any silk cleaning cloths that are worn through. Great, I have my perfect game plan for replacing my glasses.

I wounded my vision monster, but it was a cowardly blow. I replaced my glasses with a pair in the optometrist office. They may have less plastic, but not much. I only realized after I got home that my zero-waste vision of metal-framed glasses had only given a flesh wound to reducing plastic and waste.

Next time though, I will deal a deadly blow and follow the five Rs to plastic-free and zero-waste vision victory.

Here's to zero-waste and plastic-free vision!
Little Urban Greenie

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