Summer is still around, and it’s not too late to grab some fashionable shades. Are you all prepared for the undying, extenuating sun rays in a most suffocating atmosphere while on your way to work…? Neither I am.
But hey! Sunny days are the best time to rock your style and outshine the sun with some glamour. And what a better way to greet the summer with a new pair of sunglasses. But hey, what do you think if this time you show something different…?
…Such as recycled sunglasses?
Antwerp-based W.R. Yuma is the first of its kind. They are positioning themselves against the fashion industry’s troubling pollution history, second only to oil, this brand seeks not only to combat our increasing problem of lack of style but also the environmental issues caused by increasing human irresponsibility. How? Through 3D-printed sunglasses made entirely of recycled materials.
“Waste is only waste when wasted”
– Sebastiaan de Neubourg
Startup founder Sebastiaan de Neubourg doesn’t see himself as a fashion insider – and he “would like to keep it that way.” Why? Because he sees something beyond the mere aesthetics. He sees the need to raise ecological awareness through sustainable fashion.
“We do not only want to show where the materials come from and where they go to after use,” writes Circular Economy Club, “but also show the people who help close the loop through their work (be it at a recycling plant, our micro factory, post-office, …). As a consumer, you become aware that you form a small, though crucial, part of this cycle and are in fact more of a partner than an end-user.”
De Neubourg is an apt believer of the circular economy, in which in contrast to linear economy’s “take, make, dispose” model of production, waste is reduced to a minimum through energy loops, such as recycling, and put once again into use.
Two of W.R Yuma’s primary suppliers, Better Future Factory in Rotterdam and Tridea in Brussels, are not very far away from Antwerp, and that’s because one of the circular economy’s objectives is to make production as local as possible.
In an interview with TechAcute, De Neubourg stated that “in the future, the idea is to decentralize production as to make production facilities that can use local materials. ” Although they still have to rely on some international facilities, De Neubourg is optimistic on turning production into a community-based circular economy in the foreseeable future.
Such rebirth-based economy is reflected not only in W.R. Yuma’s philosophy but also in their very own products’ design. According to their site, they’re designed for disassembly. That means, no glues or toxic dyes so they can be quickly returned to W.R. Yuma’s micro-factory, recycled, redesigned and turned into a new pair, just for you.
As a matter of fact, they’ve planned a special discount for all those who hold on, as much as possible, their current pair, and exchange it for their newest pair.
The sunglasses are primarily made of the material they gather from several local suppliers. Their bamboo, for example, comes from furniture manufacturing waste and the black plastic from recycled car dashboards, while the transparent plastic is mostly made by soda bottles. They also make use of refrigerators, wood and contemplating biomaterial, such as algae.
Through their technology, they grind the materials and turn them into filament which they later used for their 3D-printers. After that, it’s time for them to assemble and then to be given shape with a laser. The result? Classy sunglasses for the summer!
The future is circular
Although W.R. Yuma was initially founded in 2015, after De Neubourg worked as a business consultant on circular economy design for five years, the production itself won’t start until this very year, after a crowdfunding campaign. As far we can tell from their last Facebook updates, this will begin next week.
The initial cost of a regular pair, without delivery fees, would be around €72. There will be 6 models available and, although not available right now, prescription glasses and other fashionable items are not out of the question either.
“We don’t want to be just a manufacturer; we prefer to be a community, in which clients are active participants,” de Neubourg told SnapMunk. “To get people interested, we are therefore working with celebrities and are planning a fantastic marketing campaign with the Dutch The Better Future Factory.
Together, we will be trawling festivals and 3D-printing promotional glasses from waste and empty cups. The quality of these festival edition sunglasses won’t be fantastic, but it will definitely send a message.”
The message is perhaps W.R. Yuma’s greatest factor behind this idea. It’s true that we don’t tend to think about the origins and fate of our products.
Maybe it’s time to rethink the importance of the circle of life behind our goods. After all, fashion is not the only thing that revolves mostly around novelty and expiration date. It’s all of us and everything around us.