People in the Comox Valley don’t have to look too far to see plastic waste in the ocean.
A local optometry and eyewear outlet, though, is doing something to reduce this global problem through an arrangement to sell a line of eyewear that uses a form of pollution.
“These glasses are 100 per cent made with recycled ocean plastic,” says Claudia Rojas, director of operations for the Western market for New Look.
New Look in Courtenay, along with four of its other stores on the Island, and other outlets are the exclusive sellers for the Sea2see line of eyewear.
“We have the exclusivity in Canada,” says Rojas.
There are 24 models, including six models of sunglasses – all of which are light-weight.
“This one of the major features of this collection. They’re super-light,” she adds.
The source material often comes from items like bottles, ropes, line and abandoned fish nets. At present, much of the supply is coming from European waters. The company has partnerships to work with fishermen to collect the material, and Rojas says roughly 10 square metres of plastic from the ocean goes into a single frame for glasses. The plastic that cannot be used to produce frames is sent for recycling for items liking fishing nets.
“Sea2see is really … proof that there are solutions that contribute to the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans,” she says.
“This collection is really the perfect example of a circular economy,” she adds, saying this relationship is creating a new type of job for people around the globe.
The Sea2see line is just one the steps the company has taken to reduce its environmental footprint. The stores are collecting and recovering used eyewear and reducing electrical use from lighting in stores. The company is a long-time partner of the Lions Club, which collects and recovers frames left in eyewear stores to distribute to people in need both in Canada and other countries. As well, at its laboratory in Quebec, the company is reducing the amount of liquid used for cutting and polishing lenses by recovering, filtering and reusing the fluid several times.
“Our competitive strategy is based on innovation, not only by offering the latest products and trends, but by taking the lead on important matters such as eco-responsibility,” says Rojas. “We’re also the first certified eco-responsible company in the industry.”
In the last year, the company also took over Vogue Optical in Courtenay and Visions Optical outlets on Vancouver Island, then underwent rebranding and renovations to open under the New Look name.
“We really want to build new relationships with people in these communities and re-ignite past relationships,” she says.
The Courtenay outlet joins another store in Nanaimo and three in Victoria as part of a move to make New Look a national brand.
“We actually started with Courtenay,” says Rojas. “We have been renovating each one of them.”
The move is more than a rebranding though, as the outlet offers optometric services along with eyewear.
“Now we’re able to offer full eye exams…. We’re a full-scope practice now,” she adds.
The Courtenay store is located at 349 B 5th St. For more information, call 250-334-2043 or see newlookvision.ca