Pala Eyewear: Ethical glasses with a social impact
These glasses were gifted, but this post is not sponsored so all opinions remain my own.
When it comes to sunglasses, the standard is typically nothing but flimsy and disposable fast fashion, made from virgin plastic in unfair factory conditions. I’ve personally bought a dozen terrible pairs of easily breakable glasses that never quite sit right, and I had no second thoughts sending them to landfill. There’s been a need for ethical alternatives in the conscious fashion community, and Pala Eyewear have responded to the gap in the market.
My partner Tim takes meticulous care of his sunglasses, replacing the lenses himself to prolong their life, because we hate using new non-renewable resources. But when he left a pair in a taxi, it was the perfect example of times we have no choice but to purchase new. And when you have no choice but to buy something, it’s an incredible opportunity to support an ethical business and contribute to a social impact goal. And there’s one brand I’d been following for awhile, waiting to support.
I chose to replace those lost glasses with a pair from Pala who have a variation on the traditional one-for-one system, where each pair of glasses you purchase funds the equivalent of a pair of glasses for someone that needs them through a variety of eye care programs. Pala achieve this by providing grants for eye care projects across Africa, providing ongoing services. They then calculate their profit margins to determine that for every pair of glasses they sell, they provide the equivalent of one pair of eyeglasses to someone in need.
For example, in Zambia they have given a grant for a permanent eye care centre for eye exams and treatment. As someone who works in international development with a keen interest in rural health I so appreciate John’s, the founder’s, mission to deliver public health programs to under-funded regions.
World Health Organisation estimates 1.3 billion people live with limited vision. It’s estimated that 80% of those people are living with preventable impairments, because the leading causes of vision loss are cataracts or refractive errors (e.g. nearsightedness or farsightedness). Another estimated 10% of people completely lack access to simple care like eyeglasses or a quick cataract surgery, so these simple issues can become disabilities by restricting freedom of movement, independence and access to education or employment.
Tim wears Neo wayfarers in black matt with 100% UVA/UVB protection. A perfect minimalist wayfarer style for anyone looking for comfortable, daily wear glasses. (But I’ve got my eyes on Thoko for myself.)
They arrived in FSC-certified packaging and a plastic eyeglass case made with recycled soft plastic trash that was handwoven by rural communities in East Ghana. Which is a nice initiative to both clean-up plastic trash in a community and provide sustainable livelihood for women by supporting traditional weaving practices. Plus, the company offset the CO2 emissions of the postage through a carbon offsetting initiative that provides sustainable cooking stoves in Nigeria and Rwanda. Did I mention I appreciate this brand?
On their website, Pala has upfront transparency on the topic of sustainability. While their acetate glasses frames (a semi-synthetic plant-based plastic made from wood pulp) are a step up from petroleum-based plastics, they’re still not a perfect solution and there's no need to really pretend they’re anything but what they are. Instead of greenwashing or using evasive language to dodge the hard questions, Pala own up to their responsibility and pledge to constantly do better. I look forward to seeing where Pala takes us as they explore new eco materials such as bio-acetate that is a biodegradable, non-plastic cellulose textile.
With that honesty, their commitment to their social and environmental footprint, high-quality frames and a great customer care team behind the scenes, this brand is a leader in the fashion revolution space.