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It’s likely that you’re not going to keep the same pair of glasses forever. Often, they break. And, sometimes, your vision changes, so your glasses need to be replaced with a new pair. Maybe you’ve just had LASIK surgery or have chosen to wear contact lenses, so you no longer need those old frames. Or perhaps it’s just about time to change up your style.
But what do you do with old glasses? Tossing them out feels like a waste — especially because glasses can sometimes cost you a small fortune. And glass and plastic pollution hurt the planet.
Here are five things to do with old glasses instead of just throwing them away.
All around the world, some 13 million children can’t finish their education for the sole reason that they can’t see well enough to learn. There are tons of goodwill organizations that will take your used reading glasses, so long as they’re still in decent shape. Look for eyeglasses donations boxes at vision centers.
If your glasses are no longer wearable, however, the organizations will likely throw them out. So be sure that you’re only donating glasses that someone else could feasibly wear.
Warby Parker lets you select 5 frames to test out for 5 days and ships them to you—for free! Learn more about their Home Try-On Program.
One person’s trash is another person’s treasure. Ask around your social network to see if someone you know needs a pair of glasses. You never know who might find value in your old pair — or who might know someone else who needs new glasses. Because glasses can be costly, friends and family members are likely to be appreciative.
If you want to make some money from giving your pair of frames away, you can also try to sell them online. Check out online marketplaces like eBay or Preloved, where people buy and sell secondhand items.
If the only reason that you’re giving away your old pair of glasses is that they are broken, you can try to get them repaired. Look for an eyeglass repair shop near you. There are also national services such as the All-American Eyeglass Repair Shop, where you can drop off or mail in your glasses to have them fixed.
In 2017, plastics generation was 35.4 million tons in the United States, and landfills received 26.8 million of those tons. Meanwhile, glass generation in all products was 11.4 million tons in the United States, and Americans dispose of some 10 million tons of it each year — most of which ends up in the trash. Only about one-third of glass actually gets recycled.
If your glasses are too broken to be redistributed, don’t just throw them out. Make sure that you put your old specs in the recycling bin. You can repurpose and reuse plastic and glass.
Here are a few charitable organizations that will accept your old glasses donations. However, note that most of these organizations cannot accept lenses without frames or broken or significantly damaged eyewear. Make sure that the glasses you donate are wearable.
Do not throw away your old eyeglasses. Beyond the fact that glass and plastic pollute the planet, someone else in need could use your old glasses. There are many options for getting rid of old eyeglasses, and throwing them in the garbage can should not be one of them.
“33 Years Repairing Eyeglasses – Walk-In or Mail-In.” All American Eyeglass Repair, www.americaneyeglassrepair.com/.
“Donate Old Glasses.” America's Best Contacts & Eyeglasses, www.americasbest.com/patient-education/eyeglasses/3-genius-ways-give-new-life-old-glasses.
“Donate.” OneSight, onesight.org/donate/.
“Eyeglass Recycling Centers: Lions Clubs International.” Eyeglass Recycling Centers | Lions Clubs International, www.lionsclubs.org/en/resources-for-members/resource-center/eyeglass-recycling-centers.
“Eyewear Donations.” Donate Your Used Glasses to VSP Eyes of Hope, vspglobal.com/cms/vspglobal-outreach/eyewear-donation.html.
Frank. “Where to Donate Old Eyeglasses: Payne Glasses.” Payne Glasses Blog, 24 May 2020, www.payneglasses.com/blog/where-can-you-donate-old-eyeglasses/.
“Glass: Material-Specific Data.” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, 30 Oct. 2019, www.epa.gov/facts-and-figures-about-materials-waste-and-recycling/glass-material-specific-data.
Jacoby, Mitch. “Why Glass Recycling in the US Is Broken.” Chemical & Engineering News, American Chemical Society, 13 Feb. 2019, cen.acs.org/materials/inorganic-chemistry/glass-recycling-US-broken/97/i6.
New Eyes for the Needy, new-eyes.org/.
“Plastics: Material-Specific Data.” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, 30 Oct. 2019, www.epa.gov/facts-and-figures-about-materials-waste-and-recycling/plastics-material-specific-data.
“What To Do With Your Old Glasses Frames: 10/10 Optics.” 10 / 10 Optics, 20 Oct. 2020, www.1010optics.com/101-blog/what-to-do-with-your-old-glasses-frames/.