Disposable contact lenses first hit the shelves in the late 1980s. After a modest debut, usage of the product has skyrocketed. By 2003, more than half of all contact lens wearers were using disposables, and this number has only been increasing. After all, what’s not to love about them? They’re convenient, they’re usually cheaper, and using new ones everyday means that it’s much more hygienic than painstakingly cleaning the same pair day in and day out. However, just as usage of disposable lenses has increased overtime, so has public awareness for the damage disposable goods can cause to the environment. Like most disposable goods, disposable lenses are usually non-biodegradable plastic, leaving them bad for both trash and compost.
Unfortunately, blister packs are very difficult to recycle. The mixture of plastics and foil seals usually make it difficult for recycling facility machines to process. However, it isn’t impossible. In fact, sometimes the solution can be as simple as removing the foil seal and disposing of it separately. Individual lenses are harder, but various initiatives do exist that collect disposable lenses as well as blister packs. There are organizations that collect disposable blister packs, so be sure to look for one of these groups near you and safely recycle blister packs.
If you’re one of the many people who prefer eyeglasses over contact lenses, then this isn’t something you need to worry about. However, that does not mean there aren’t environmentally friendly choices you can make. If you’ve just gotten new eyeglasses and want to throw away your old pair, try recycling them instead. Pretty much every optometrist has some bin collecting used eyeglasses and glasses cases for recycling, so just drop them off there on your next visit.
Remember, they’re just small, little actions. But enough of these can really add up and make a difference.