Panda Sunglasses is our brand spotlight for this month of June, and we have oodles of reasons why. Durable, sustainable, and stylish - they’re not just for looks alone.
The Origins of Panda
Back in 2012, the founders of Panda realized that there’s a market for stylish sunglasses that are not harmful to the planet. Sick of cheaply made shades, they launched a Kickstarter campaign which soon reached legendary status, raising more than six times what they have initially asked. It paved the way for a durable, sustainable sunglasses brand to be introduced to the market.
The Benefits of Bamboo
Enter bamboo, a great eco friendly alternative to hazardous plastic and metal sunglasses. Bamboo not only grows quickly, but does so without the need for harmful pesticides, fertilizers or much water. Plus it’s also more moisture resistant than other traditional woods, making it ideal to use around water. Other brands soon started copying the Panda model yet they lacked the high quality and exceptional aftercare that Panda brings to the table.
What makes Panda different is their wooden frames, which are made with 11 interwoven layers of FSC certified bamboo, coated with beeswax to help waterproof the bamboo. The lenses are made from recycled polycarbonates and are polarized at filter level 3. In layman’s terms, this basically means that the lenses are suitable for bright sun and reflected light from snow or water.
The American Optometric Association recommends wearing sunglasses all year long whenever outdoors. Spending just two or three hours in bright sunlight can affect the eyes’ ability to adapt to nighttime or indoor light levels, which in turn can affect nighttime driving. The AOA recommends polarized sunglasses that can block 99-100% of UV-A and UV-B radiation, and all Panda Sunglasses are 100% UVA/UVB Polarized Lenses.
Individually handcrafted, these are wooden sunglasses that are light enough to float on water and to wear all day long and in different seasons. The Panda Originals weigh around 22 grams on average, and the Ultralights around 17 grams, with each frame weight depending on the style.
The one thing we absolutely love about Panda is that they stand behind their glasses and offer a 100% lifetime warranty. They will replace any pair of glasses with defects caused by materials and workmanship. Accessories brands that do this are few and far between, and finding one that’s also socially responsible even rarer.
Even from the very beginning of their Kickstarter campaign, Panda has been transparent with their commitment in helping someone in need. As a partner for 1% for the Planet, every purchase of their sunglasses goes back to a charity dedicated to helping the planet.
They also partner with Optometry Giving Sight, a global fundraising initiative that gives someone in need a life-changing eye exam and a pair of prescription glasses. Founded in 2003, this organization has screened nearly 4 million people and delivered more than 27,000 pairs of glasses. They have also trained 116 optometry students in 39 countries.
Panda also supported 12 microloans in 10 countries through Kiva, and have changed the lives of nearly 100,000 students through Pencils of Promise. More close to home, they’ve also helped the Washington National Parks fund to protect some of the most beautiful forests in the Pacific Northwest and also partner with One Tree Planted.
How they fared up
Coming from someone who used to purchase cheap sunglasses every season, these durable sunglasses have really held up to my rough handling. I’ve thrown them in my tote bag without its case, and it came out with nary a scratch to the lens or frame.
I’ve kept it on during bike rides, and have lifted it up, like a headband, for prolonged periods of time. The hinges continue to remain tight and have not loosened, and the lenses certainly block the strongest sunlight whilst riding.
The Monroe style that I have feels secure on my face, without the feeling of flying off when a huge gust of wind comes by. I was initially worried that the style may not suit me, but Panda also offers a comprehensive guide on which styles suit different face shapes.
I have used these durable sunglasses through bike rides, beach trips and running errands around town. The polarized lenses are certainly strong enough for snow and winter sports. These eco friendly sunglasses come in an upright sturdy bamboo case that easily slides into a bag. For those who love versatile accessories as much as I do, they also come with a microfiber pouch that can double up as a cleaning cloth.
Recently, I have been gifted a pair of luxe sunglasses, the type that has an eye watering price tag and a big, purple case that takes up half my bag. Whilst beautiful, it definitely did not have the sturdiness of these Panda bamboo sunglasses.
Within a week of using it, this other well-known brand had one loose hinge. I’ve sadly had to return this pair for repairs, only relegated to occasions where looks (not function) matter. Suffice to say I have gone back happily to my trusty pair of Panda polarized sunglasses to wear all year long.