Don’t Lose Sight of Recycling
If you’re having fun in the sun, your sunglasses are bound to get scratched easily. Bonus points if you managed not to lose them, but when you think you need to replace an old pair of sunglasses, remember to look into your reuse, recycle or repair options first.
Many brands of sunglasses will repair or replace either the lenses or the frames for free or a small fee. Find out what brand your sunglasses are and go to their website. Look for a link that says “lifetime warranty.” There you should find some details, any limitations and where to take your sunglasses to get them fixed up.
If your sunglasses have more than slight damage or are not covered by any warranty, see if your nearest recycling center accepts hard plastic. Often times, a center will take plastic numbers 1-7 in addition to rigid plastic items and plastic film.
It’s possible that a scrap metal recycler will accept old sunglasses that have metal frames, but remember to call first. Even small pieces of metal like aluminum pop tabs have a small value that adds up when dealing with large quantities. You probably won’t get money for them, but any metal of value will be recovered.
Lion’s Clubs recycle sunglasses! The Lions Club is a large community volunteer work organization with programs all over the world. Lions Clubs are happy to accept used sunglasses, both prescription and plain, reading glasses, and regular eyeglasses with plastic and metal frames.
Look for donation boxes in Walmart stores and Sam’s Clubs with vision centers, and for Lions Eyeglass Recycling Centers (LERCs) around the USA.
Each year, OneSight collects gently used prescription eyewear and non-prescription sunglasses to recycle and hand-deliver to their Global Clinics around the world. Look for collection areas at any LensCrafters, ILORI, Optical Shop of Aspen, Pearle Vision, Sears Optical, Target Optical or participating local practitioner. Find the donation location nearest you.
Unite for Sight also accepts unwanted eyeglasses and sunglasses and distributes them to people living in poverty. They accept new sunglasses for donation, so if you have a pair that are in great condition but you no longer need them, this is your option in addition to any local thrift store.
Remember that you could always donate old glasses to local schools, playhouses and theaters for use as props and costumes in performances.
If the scratches are not too severe, you can try fixing them yourself before donating them or keep them if it works well and they’re like new!
If your sunglasses are scratched and they have plastic lenses, there are products available that act as scratch removers. Use your own judgement when using these products by reading reviews, especially if your sunglasses were expensive. Grab a soft cloth or whatever the directions recommend and have a little patience. Plastic polish such as Novus may not remove very deep scratch marks, but people have had success with surface blemishes.
Bonus reading: Check out our other post on what happens after you drop those 3-D movie glasses into the recycling boxes in theaters.
Help close the loop! The frame on these recycled sunglasses is made from 100% recycled pre-consumer plastic polymer resin. Purchasing items made with recycled materials helps create a market for recycling and saves the energy it takes to make new products.