Environmentally responsible eyewear. Does such a thing even exist? Of course, the most responsible choice is not to make the product at all. Between carbon emissions and the number of resources used to produce a pair of sunglasses, not to mention the materials from which they’re made—it’s nearly impossible to make shades without causing some kind of ding to the planet.

However, there are increasingly better ways to make products with less impact. Especially when it comes to premium products, like Bajío Sunglasses—a carbon-neutral company with a clear focus on sustainable eyewear and eco-friendly fishing gear since day one.

As the demand for green consumer products continues to grow, with any luck, it may become the norm. Now more than ever, savvy environmentally-conscious consumers want to know where products are from, exactly what they’re made of, how they’re packaged, and whether or not they’re recyclable at the end of life.



To shed some light on the environmental impact of sunglasses, mainstream frames are most commonly made from virgin plastic in a production process that also generates a high amount of pollution as well as significant plastic waste—up to 75%. In addition, finished sunglasses are often packaged in plastic to be shipped to customers. Eventually, all this plastic ends up in the same place—the landfill.

Metal is also a common material used in sunglass manufacturing. Think aviator- and navigator-style shades. Unfortunately, metal frames may contain lead, chromium, cadmium, and mercury which are toxic, carcinogenic, and considered particularly hazardous due to leaching into soil and waterways.

To add insult to injury, sunglasses have largely been treated as a disposable product. A study found just 5% of wearers had used a recycling method when disposing of old glasses. But there is hope to turn the industry around with an emphasis on repair, recycling, and the implementation of Earth-friendly materials such as bio-resin.


The advent of bio-resin has opened the door to a greener future for eyewear—going from using crude oil to castor oil with a material that not only drastically reduces carbon emissions during the manufacturing process but also allows for recycling when the time comes.

During the pandemic, Bajío launched the company with bio-resin frames and hasn’t looked back since. All Bajío Sunglass frames are produced using a natural bio-resin made from castor plants.

Why castor? First, it’s one of the most sustainable plants on the planet. It grows in the arid and semi-arid regions of India, Africa, and Brazil. Here plant life is limited due to terrain which makes castor an important source of income for farmers in those regions. Castor plants have deep root systems that help prevent erosion. When plants are harvested, the roots decay and nourish the soil for the next generation.

Bajío also uses the castor plant because its seeds produce a bio-resin that results in a stronger, lighter-weight sunglass frame that’s 100% recyclable—going back to the nature it came from. Better product. Bettering the lives of farming communities. Better for the environment. It’s a win-win-win. But Bajío doesn’t stop at frames when it comes to sustainable products. All sunglasses come with cactus leather cases.


Bajío’s signature cactus leather sunglass cases are made by plant-based producer Desserto in Mexico. To create an alternative to animal leather, Desserto developed a vegan alternative to leather made with nopal (a type of cactus). This product is a renewable resource that offers sustainability, performance, and aesthetics.

After working in the furniture, automotive, and fashion industries where pollution was a serious problem, co-founders Adrián López Velarde and Marte Cázarez wanted to reduce environmental impact, so they quit their jobs to start a company focused on developing cactus or nopal vegan leather.

Desserto cactus leather is a highly sustainable plant-based material noted for its soft hand, great performance in a wide variety of applications, and compliance with the most rigorous quality and environmental standards. The aim is to offer cruelty-free, sustainable alternatives, without any toxic chemicals, phthalates, and PVC. Cactus leather is partially biodegradable and has the technical specifications required by the fashion, leather goods, luxury packaging, and furniture industries. Pick up a case with your next pair of Bajíos and see if you can tell the difference between real leather and real responsible cactus leather.


Weighing the options of sunglasses made with traditional materials and the toll they can take on the planet against new, sustainable choices is like comparing night and day. The manufacturing of conventional sunglasses alone equates to energy-intensive processes that create harmful emissions and plastic waste that piles up in landfills and ends up in oceans. Disposal of products is just as alarming at upwards of 275 tons (or multiple million pairs) discarded each year, according to Earth 911. By switching to sustainable materials such as bio-resin frames that biodegrade naturally, you can save equal or more than that which is wasted.

Consumers are ready and waiting for the eyewear industry to get on board with sustainable sunglasses. A staggering 90% of consumers say they have found it difficult to find a sustainable option for sunglasses. That’s where Bajío Sunglasses sustainability movement steps in.


Because the company’s mission is to protect the world's saltwater flats (or bajíos), every decision that’s made supports this quest. Sustainable business choices are key at each step from design to packaging, right down to the biodegradable packing tape. Everything counts—from the materials they use to the vendors they choose.

Carbon neutral from inception, Bajío works with Emerger Strategies planting mangroves to offset carbon emissions, which in turn provide fish habitat and help protect coastal areas from erosion. Bajío’s factory in Italy helps source eco-materials and the factory itself makes a huge effort to reduce its carbon footprint with 100% LED lighting, solar panels, full electric injection equipment (vs. crude oil), and tumbling processes with water recycling systems.

Bajío apparel is made from 100% Certified Organic Cotton and sustainable bamboo—even the bags it’s shipped in are 100% biodegradable Glassine with safe algae-based ink. The company’s ongoing Rooster Program raises money to clean up miles of beaches in Xcalak, Mexico through the sale of tees and hats. The Temples of Change sunglass project plants coral along the Mesoamerican Reef through Oceanus, A.C.

Bajío’s mapping projects in the Yucatan Peninsula and Guanaja, Honduras (in conjunction with Bonefish & Tarpon Trust and the University of Alabama) have provided scientists with critical information on the baseline of these areas through drone footage, satellite imagery, and ground truthing to set goals to improve the health of these flats for the future.

And the list goes on…just as it needs to to progress toward a healthier planet.


A pioneer in sunglass sustainability, Bajío is leading the charge for a brighter eyewear industry future ahead. The company simply sees a bigger, better, more impactful version of the present in the years to come. And if they just so happen to inspire other manufacturers to make sustainable choices along the way too, then more power to the planet. In the end, we only have one [planet]. It’s important for companies as well as individuals to take ownership and make each decision count.