These sunglasses are made from a Plant (lens and all)

Most sunglasses are made of petroleum-based materials. But in an effort to minimize ecological footprint, brands like Smith and ZEAL in recent years have released frames made of resins derived from plants.

This week, ZEAL Optics announced it is taking the process further to create lenses made from plant-based material as well. 

Petroleum-free, made of plants (frame and lens)

Clear and hard like glass or polycarbonate, the lens material is created using seeds from the castor plant.

Seeds are farmed in India and other countries then shipped to a factory in Switzerland where they are transformed into a crystal-clear resin. According to ZEAL, the lens has a “38 Abbe value clarity,” which is comparable with high-quality polycarbonate lenses.

ZEAL cites protection from UVA, B, and C rays. The lens has a hard coating for scratch resistance.

Castor oil is not a new material base for ZEAL — the brand uses it to make all of its current frames. The company has a goal now to eliminate any use of crude oil from the line and make castor-based lenses standard.

Castor plant leaf

Called the E-llume lenses, the castor-vision glasses will be available this May in two of the company’s sunglass models.

With the E-llume lenses, ZEAL cites it will be the first company to lead the way “toward completely removing crude oil from sunglass production.”

—Amy Oberbroeckling

ZEAL E-llume lenses glasses

Amy Oberbroeckling

Amy Oberbroeckling, an Iowa native, joined GearJunkie out of college and brought a passion for endurance sports as well as a flawless record in arm wrestling matches against famous rock climbers. Find her biking, trail running, cross-country skiing, camping, or tipping back a cold IPA.