Eco splitboard – Zeal Optics

Zeal Optics is a sunglasses and goggles manufacturer from Colorado, USA. Their committment to preserve the environment is ruled by a simple set of beliefs: Use Less, Give Back, Explore More.

We caught up with Zeal’s Mike Lewis to know more about their actions and philosophy towards the environment.

What is Zeal’s philosophy towards the environment?

At Zeal, we focus on making sunglasses and goggles to enhance outdoor adventures, and without amazing places for those adventures, what’s the point? We live in a rapidly changing world, and believe it’s on each of us to use every lever we have to protect the places we play, and inspire others to do the same. Our guiding principles are Use Less, Give Back and Explore More, which we live every day in the decisions we make, the materials and products we create and the processes that bring those to life. From plant-based sunglasses, to a zero-waste office and Rx lab to our membership in 1% for the Planet, giving back to the wild places that inspire us is the heart of our mission.

What kind of materials do you use for your sunglasses and goggles?

We currently use materials called Ellume in our sunglass lenses and Z-Resin in our sunglass frames, both of which are derived from the castor plant. It’s a really cool plant that grows between rows of other crops, so it doesn’t compete for land with the food supply. Even cooler is the fact that it creates incredibly light and durable sunglasses, with amazingly clear lenses by removing the impurities found in petroleum-based resins.

We’re constantly looking for new materials, and have some great new developments coming down the pipe!

On the goggle side, finding bio resins that stand up to cold weather has proven to be more difficult. We’ve been testing numerous strap, frame and lens materials, but haven’t found anything that performs to our specifications…yet! There is some post-consumer recycled inputs in our frames, but the percentage is minimal at this point and improving our materials is a constant focus for us on the R&D side.

What kind of actions or events does Zeal promote as a company?

This is where it gets fun for us. From company-wide team trail building days and beach clean ups, to integrating environmental non-profits through activations and fundraisers at the events we do, walking the talk allows us to tell our story, differentiate the brand and connect with conscientious consumers, all while finding new ways to have an impact.

What part of responsability should the outdoor companies have on leading the fight on sustainability?

Hopefully we’re preaching to the choir on this, but if you’re making a living off the environment and the mountains, we hope you feel a sense of responsibility to protect them. If you’re in this because you love it, and not just to make a buck, then it’s a no brainer. If you travel, you’ve seen the degradation in our environment, and each of us can have a huge impact in our own ways. As brands, athletes and avid riders, we are influencers. What are you using yours for?