November 11, 2008

KAYU Bamboo Sunglasses: Look Cool, Support Sustainability, Give the Gift of Sight.

In wearing KAYU sunglasses, you don’t need to make an appearance on ecorazzi to feel like an eco-minded star. Designer Jamie Lim’s shades are created with sustainability and social awareness in mind. The bold design makes them sure conversation starters, so be ready to share the benefits of a triple bottom line business, all while looking like you could roll with Adrian Grenier.

I received her first design in the line (others will be out late 2008/early 2009), as grand as I like my sunglasses. These aren’t for the shades faint of heart, they feature a full frame and as the bamboo of this pair is light-colored, they do stand out on the face. The lenses are a pleasant shade where you can still see some of the wearer’s eyes. These made the world appear softer for me while also recently protecting my eyes on a very sunny and windy Boulder day.

The sunglasses are handcrafted using sustainable bamboo, a species called Mao Zhu, grown without pesticides or fertilizers and known for quick regeneration (about twice as fast as a tree, restoring itself in about five years). They are handmade in Wenzhou, China, the same part of the country where the bamboo is sourced, lessening the product’s eco impact with fewer miles to travel during manufacture.

KAYU also has a social mission in that the company donates $50 of each purchase of sunglasses to fund a sight-restoring surgery in the developing world through Unite for Sight, Inc. The nonprofit organization reports that 80% of blindness is preventable and that 36 million people are needlessly blind.

When considering purchasing KAYU sunglasses, we must also look at the alternative. Living in New York City, I saw thousands of cheap plastic sunglasses available from street vendors. You have to wonder where and how they are made and also how quickly they just get trashed. At $180, KAYU sunglasses are priced competitively at a mainstream retailer like Sunglasses Hut, and you would be making an investment in a pair to wear for years (the style is classic) and in supporting the vision of another person.

I’m excited to spread the word about these exceptional shades created from Jamie’s heart and hard work. I admire her for starting up a woman-owned triple bottom line business and in doing so, bringing a sustainable choice to market in this industry.

Available at eConscious Market.

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