[Sponsored by Sunski Sunglasses]
Plastic is incredible stuff. Our lives would be completely changed without it. It’s light, strong, easily made into whatever shape we want, and it lasts forever. Without plastic, we’d probably all still be skiing in leather boots.
That last point, that plastic basically lasts forever, is a double-edged sword. It’s amazing stuff when being put to good use, but plastic waste is becoming a huge global environmental problem. That’s no secret.
It’s estimated that only 9% of plastic produced since the 1950s has ever been recycled. The remainder has either been burned (12%) or has ended up in a landfill or polluting the environment (79%). Roughly 9 trillion pieces of plastic are thought to be floating around in our oceans, with more being added every day. Developed countries like the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. export much of their plastic waste to countries in Africa and Asia, which isn’t a solution to the problem.
Sunski Sunglasses is on a mission to change all of that. For starters, they donate 1% of all sales to environmental non-profit groups through 1% For The Planet. That’s awesome, but as a company that actively produces (pretty awesome) plastic products, they knew they needed to do more.
Sunski took it to the next level, and developed their own proprietary recycled plastic blend, dubbed “SuperLight.” It’s comprised of industrial polycarbonate scrap plastic that would have otherwise been headed to a landfill in Illinois. Sunski made it a point to intercept this scrap from a domestic source. Importing someone else’s trash was not going to cut it.
Polycarbonate is a great material for engineering purposes. It’s strong, tough, and easy to manufacture. Most lenses, from sunglasses, to goggles, to automotive headlamps, are made of the stuff. When polycarbonate ends up in the landfill it degrades and releases a compound known as bisphenol A (BPA), which is known to interfere with some human hormones when ingested. It made headlines a few years back due to its presence in water bottles. BPA does not degrade under typical conditions in a landfill, which means it builds up, leaks out, and eventually finds its way into the water we drink. Not good!
The fact that Sunski is going out of their way to use recycled material is a bigger deal than you think. The sad truth is, most of our recyclables never actually get reused. Manufacturers prefer new, “virgin” plastics for their products, simply because they’re cheaper. Recycled plastics need to be sorted, cleaned, and processed before they can see a second life, and that doesn’t happen for free. Huge high five to Sunski for putting the environment ahead of the bottom line.
If you have any comments about Sunski’s environmental initiatives, they’d love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org