Written by: Shaun Fitzpatrick
I have a soft spot for companies that combine quality goods with good deeds; that’s part of what lead me to TerraCycle in the first place. Since getting involved with the company, I’ve been on the lookout for other businesses and organizations that make cool, environmentally friendly products.
This search brought me to California-based company Woodzee, which uses a variety of different types of wood (including wine barrels from a vineyard in California) to make sunglasses. The company makes sure that the types of trees used aren’t overharvested, meaning that customers can enjoy them guilt-free. According to the company’s website, they are committed to “promoting a healthier relationship between humankind and nature, by constructing beautiful pieces created from natural renewable resources.” Even better, every time a pair of glasses is sold, Woodzee donates to a non-profit that conducts tree-planting projects all over the world. All customers have to do is specify what country they want a tree planted in at checkout; a new pair of sunglasses equates to about six new trees. As a bonus, customers can return their used sunglasses to the company and Woodzee will recycle them.
In a phone interview, Woodzee’s co-founder Luke Winter gave me a little more information about the company’s background and its goals for the future. Before coming up with Woodzee, Winter started a clothing store that began rewarding customers for reusing plastic bags. Early on, the once-Environmental Studies minor was looking for a way to connect his business to his interest in the environment. “I’ve always looked at businesses as a relationship, whether with humans or the earth,” Winter said. Woodzee allowed him to expand this idea far beyond reusable bags. The sunglasses arrive in packages made from recycled paper and soy ink, and customers can even choose to upgrade to plantable boxes. Each package also includes a packet of seeds, as customers are encouraged to help out by planting their own trees.
In the future, Winter hopes to expand Woodzee, making not only more sunglasses but other product like toothbrushes and shaving kits. He also hopes to move towards making products solely from recycled wood, and is looking to expand the philanthropy aspect of the company to organizations focused on water, children, and animals. “Doing good deeds and doing what’s right is what makes me happy,” Winter explained.
Does this concept sound familiar? TerraCycle may not make sunglasses, but it does make a variety of furniture, jewelry, accessories and other products out of recycled and upcycled materials. It’s nice to know that we aren’t the only company whose business model centers on working towards a cleaner Earth!