How to Keep Contact Lenses Zero Waste
For me, wearing my glasses every single day instead of using contacts (which would result in zero waste) is not feasible. Because of how active my lifestyle is and how much I instruct fitness – having contacts is a game changer and allows me to see clearly without worrying about having to keep something steady on my face. Don’t get me wrong, I love wearing my glasses during the week, but I don’t wear them all the time; and because of this, I’m producing quite a bit of contact-lens waste each month.
To be honest, I have been very uneducated about the importance of recycling even the SMALLEST plastic pieces in my life – like plastic pieces from packaging, leftover “scoopers” from collagen containers and pre-workouts, and bottle caps. When it comes to things like putting in my contacts for the morning, would recycling the tiny daily plastic contact lens containers truly make that much of a difference for the earth? I am finding that the answer is ABSOLUTELY 100% YES.
According to research done by journalist Nina Shen Rastogi, a year's supply of daily contacts produces about three pounds of plastic, metal and paper trash; monthly contacts, about 2.5 pounds. This may not seem like that much, but overtime, it adds up. Even by making small choices (like recycling our contact lenses and packaging) to live sustainably and consciously, we can impact the environment and purity of our planet.
Here's how us contact-wearers can be making a difference:
- Bausch + Lomb and TerraCycle have collaborated to make recycling ALL contact lens waste possible! You can recycle from home, the office, your parent’s house, etc. because all you do is collect your contact lens waste (plastic, foil strips, contact lenses themselves) in a box and then print off one of the company’s FREE shipping labels and drop the package off at your nearest UPS location. They accept any brand of daily contacts.
- You can recycle the plastic blister packs that hold each contact lens + solution. If you look at the plastic pieces closely, there should be a recycling emblem stamped in the plastic. For me, my Acuvue lenses have a recycle #5 stamp, and this means that the plastic contains polypropylene, which is found in some yogurt containers, syrup bottles, caps, straws and medicine bottles. Number 5 plastics can be recycled through most curbside programs, but check your recycling bin or company website for more information.
- Use the longest-period-of-time contact option (monthlies, bi-weeklies). This reduces the amount of daily waste that you create, and you can recycle using the tips from the previous two bullet points!
- Recycle the contact solution bottle and packaging. The cardboard box can be recycled (and sometimes composted) along with the instructions. Additionally, recycle the plastic strip that seals the lid of the bottle.
Personally, I am going to start collecting all of my contact lens waste in a leftover box from Amazon and ship them off to Bausch + Lomb and TerraCycle’s recycling station. I am so excited about this because it’s FREE and helps to keep our planet pure! I plan on keeping my used contact lenses in a mason jar and then transferring them to a small box to include within the bigger box filled with my plastic and foil from lens packaging. Does this make sense? This will keep the lenses all in one place in case they need to be separated for recycling.
There are so many ways to make an environmental difference in our daily lives. I have recently been inspired by Lauren from Trash is for Tossers - she aims to lead a waste-free, cost-effective lifestyle. I am learning so much by following her!
As always, let me know if you have any cool ideas or tips of your own for living sustainably. Leave any messages in the comments below!