Contact Lens Recycling with Terracycle and Aaron Optometrists16/06/2019
The penny has dropped – we must care for our world. We at Aarons, inspired by Dr Peter Frampton, who qualified as an environmentalist prior to becoming an optometrist, are passionate about minimising our impact on the environment. Peter believes unethical profit today will carry a huge cost in the future.
While there are, sadly, many areas we all need to do better, plastics are a huge concern. Most of us may think about plastic bottles but ‘micro-plastics’ are extremely difficult to recycle and enter the food chain easily with devastating effects on wildlife. While easily overlooked, the optometry industry produces vast amounts of micro-plastics, particularly in the form of contact lenses and their blister pack containers.
So, when we were approached by Emily Kindley with the seemingly strange request to change her contact lenses from daily to monthly wear we were intrigued. When quizzed, Emily explained it was to reduce the amount of plastic she discarded! Emily seemed a little reluctant to ‘spill the beans’, perhaps thinking we would simply try to put her off the option. On the contrary, it is extremely encouraging to meet young people who proactively think about and act on their beliefs. With Peter’s non-optometry passion for ecology, he had to meet and congratulate Emily in person and ask if we could use her as a role model.
While Emily has always been environmentally aware, her decision to act came after volunteering for a marine conservation group in Fiji. ‘After working for three weeks in Fiji, I noticed the effect plastic and waste was having on the environment, which made me more aware of the amount I use in day-to-day life. Contact lenses are something I wear often so I noticed the amount of plastic being thrown away due to them being individually packaged.’
This conversation was very timely as Aarons had just sourced and contracted a company dealing with ‘Difficult to Recycle’ plastics. The ‘Terracycle’ boxes, funded by Aarons, allow patients to bring their old lenses and blister packs back to the practice to be recycled correctly.
After explaining this initiative, Emily was happy to remain with dailies, which are a healthier option, but to recycle all the packing and lenses through our new Terracycle boxes. ‘After finding out Aarons provide a service which will let me recycle my lenses and the packaging, I am more than happy to continue with my wear.’
Aarons also has another ‘Terracycle’ box for spectacle lenses and disused spectacle frames.
Disused, but complete, spectacles are still collected and sent to the third world for re-use.