Plastic Alternative Eyewear - a Guide to Wooden Sunglasses and Wooden Optical Frames

Wooden Sunglasses FreshforPandas Wood Clubmasters

We get questioned a lot about our claim to provide eco-friendly and sustainable wooden sunglasses.

We’re conscious we don’t want to be ‘just another green-washer’ or make false statements; so are hoping to be as transparent as possible about our Wooden Sunglasses and Natural Material Eyewear products.

The frames for our Prescription Sunglasses, Prescription Eyewear and Wooden Sunglasses are made from the following Materials:

Bamboo - there are no arguments that Bamboo is the most eco-friendly material for Wooden Sunglasses.

Bamboo is the fastest growing plant known and is abundantly available. It can grow virtually anywhere (but commercially, only really grows in China) and needs little to no fertilizer or GMO’s to grow as fast as 2 feet per day!.

For the true eco-conscious, you can’t beat Bamboo as a real plastic alternative.

FreshforPandas has a range of Bamboo Sunglasses including the MIrrored Skateboard Sunglasses Polarised Sunglasses KY027, and the Classic Beach Oversized Sunglasses.

For the less militant eco-warrior, we also make plastic framed wayfarers with real bamboo temples (which still has roughly 50% plastic than a mass produced plastic wayfarer!), these models are less environmentally friendly, but they look really cool.

Wooden Sunglasses Ecofriendly Sustainable bamboo sunglasses
Cork - is another totally renewable material for wooden sunglasses. The beauty of cork is that the tree doesn’t need to be harvested for the cork to be commercially used; Cork is actually the bark of the Quercus Suber tree. If the tree is cut down, then it can’t produce the cork -  The perfect compromise! Check out our Cork Wood Wayfarers in our All Products Section

Cork Wooden Sunglasses Sustainable Material Sunglasses

Skateboard Wood - In the Wooden Sunglasses industry the term ‘Skateboard Wood’ is thrown about a lot. But what does it mean, were they skateboards repurposed for wooden sunglasses?

Skateboards are actually made from various types of Bamboo and Wood, depending on brand and manufacturing technique.

Skateboard Wooden Sunglasses are in fact the name given to how the Wood is manufactured; its compressed together and re-shaped to enable the wood be curved (like a concave skateboard), as well as give it strength.

Check out our top seller Skateboard Wood Sunglasses Blue Frame With Mirrored Lenses with Box Model: 033 for an example how skateboard wood can be used as a top quality wooden sunglasses frame

Skateboard Wooden Sunglasses

Premium Layered Wood - We started using layered wood techniques for our wooden sunglasses to enable a natural design which can be thinner and more streamlined than using solid Bamboo or Wood alone. Some would call this laminate, but we think Premium Layered Wood is better marketing spiel!

The wood is actually of premium quality. It is processed by compressing the wood over multiple layers. This also enables us to use different materials in the layers. We are toying with the idea of a thin stainless steel layer for additional strength; useful especially for our upcoming Optical range.  

Check out the Premium Layered Wood Sunglasses with Bamboo Case Model: 2107 for a prime example.

Premium Layered Wooden Sunglasses

Buffalo Horn Sunglasses - This is new for us for 2019. We took a long time looking at various materials and decided these to be one of the most ethical and sustainable materials for our Premium Sunglasses range.

The horns come from Water Buffaloes in India and Vietnam. Water Buffaloes have been used for centuries by farmers to plough the lands, transport, milk and meat. They live full and long lives with the farmers; treated with respect and decency.

Therefore the horns are a natural byproduct - harvested only after the animal has lived it’s full life.

Buffalo Horn Sunglasses are a premium product. They are not cheap, nor should they be. Aside from the beautiful look and feel of this material, advantages include these moulding to the wearers face over time, being naturally heat resistant (keeping the head cool on hot days) and having hypoallergenic properties for wearers with problems with plastic or metal.

FreshforPandas Buffalo Horn Sunglasses

Materials that didn’t make the cut

Eco-Friendly Sunglasses
We have looked into a lot of other materials which we decided not to add to our portfolio. Some of the prime examples are

X - Recycled Plastic Sunglasses
There are a lot of brands marketing sunglasses out of recycled plastic. This is great - as it does contribute taking some plastic out of the oceans. But once we looked into it, we opted against adding these to our range.

There are multiple types of plastic - each manufactured differently and moulded with other material. This makes recycling very difficult. If you scoop up a tonne of plastic from the Ocean, you’ll find bottle caps, plastic bags wrappers, fish nets - all with different grades of plastic. If you then try to heat up and remould that plastic - you won’t get anything useful as the plastic will be unstable.
Furthermore, the recycled plastic cannot be recycled again - so for its’ 500 odd year lifecycle, chances are it’ll end up back in the ocean!

So to make sunglasses out of recycled plastic you have two options; mix recycled plastic with virgin plastic - or just use one single type of recycled plastic. Here’s our beef with both methods;

Recycled Plastic Sunglasses - Due to the mixed nature of recycled plastic, recycled plastic is not stable enough on its own to hold the intricate shape of eyewear. During our research, we found that to use recycled plastic, it will need to be mixed with up to 70% of virgin plastic to hold it together!

Therefore, be weary of products that are not 100% recycled; and question how much recycled plastic is actually used. Marketeers won’t be lying if only 1% of their product is from a recycled source. Whilst 30% might be acceptable, we felt our Wooden Sunglasses frames - which are 100% sustainable, are a safer bet.

100% Recycled Plastic Sunglasses - are typically made from fish nets, where a sunglasses brand has made efforts to collect a single fishnet manufacturers products from the ocean. This is great - this is taking plastic out of the ocean thus reducing ‘Ghost Fishing’.

Whilst its better than the former method, it is still using Plastic - the plastic sunglasses will still need disposing of; and the end product (to my knowledge at this time) will be un-recyclable. We feel Wooden Sunglasses and Natural materials are more sustainable for this reason.

Materials we are considering
These are considerations we have on our roadmap - subject to designs and market trends, we hope to release new fresh ideas in the forthcoming years:

Stainless Steel and Titanium may still be on the cards for us. The materials have their plus and minuses; e.g.
PLUS - Metal is sustainable and biodegradable, although to a lesser extent than wood or bamboo
MINUS - Metal heats up in the sun; which as eyewear, is proven to raise blood pressure and cause discomfort. Hence a lot of commercially available metal eyewear is doused in plastic.

We do have a range of clubmaster / browline Wooden Sunglasses which are half metal and half wood.  Whilst we tried this frame style in a pure wood format, they just didn't look very nice so we opted for a mixed material frame.

Wooden Sunglasses Clubmaster Style Wood Sunglasses


Cellulose Acetate (Plant-based)
Acetate Is a nylon-based plastic. It’s used in the upper end of the eyewear industry due to its strength and flexibility.

Whilst we want to avoid Acetate, we are looking into Natural Acetate is made from purified natural cellulose, so can be grown and is therefore biodegradable.

Plant-Based Cellulose Acetate is less commonly used in the eyewear industry (compared with standard Acetate) - but we feel it's a material worth investing in rather than its less pious standard Acetate sister.


So in conclusion, I hope the above provides some comfort to your sustainable endeavours. Whilst we are not perfect, and whilst we do still use plastic for protection and in some models - we have tried to research and produce some of the finest wooden sunglasses and natural material sunglasses available on the market today, for the price point we are offering. Check out our Wooden Sunglasses range at or drop us an email with any questions you have!