By Joan Grady, 20/20 Europe

As an eyewear industry leader in social responsibility programs, caring and giving back are just a few of the cherished protocols mandated by Eco Eyewear—the global eyewear brand that creates sustainable eyewear currently being marketed and sold internationally. Giovanni Lo Faro, CEO of Modo International reflects on how Eco, a collection from Modo was created, as they celebrate their 10th anniversary this year.

20/20 Europe: How did Modo become involved with environmental protection that inspired your sustainable eyewear initiative?
GL: Giving back has always been in our DNA, and Modo has always strived to be a company with a purpose. When we launched Eco back in 2009, our idea was to create the first fully sustainable eyewear brand. At that time we approached environmental sustainability as an opportunity to create a unique collection more than as a growing trend in the market. What makes Eco different is that sustainability is literally inside the product, thanks to our recycled or natural materials and outside in the real world where we make a big impact with our Eco social pledge.

Share with us how the concept developed for the Eco program One Frame – One Tree.
With Eco we wanted people to look good, feel good and do good. These are our three pillars, and our Eco One Frame – One Tree program answers to a simple question: “How to do good with our eyewear?” Planting one tree for every frame sold seemed to be the best way to connect our social mission to the brand core message. To make this happen, we started our partnership with the NGO Trees for the Future. Since then we planted more than 1.7 million trees.

In what countries are the thriving 1.7 million trees planted?
The trees are in Cameroon, Tanzania and Senegal. By the way, our program does not only plant trees, which is obviously beneficial for the environment, but also supports local people to get a better living by providing food for humans and the animals, plus an overall impact on recovering land and using it for agriculture.

The Eco One Frame – One Tree program includes workshops. How are these events organized, and what topics are included?
The workshops are organized by Trees for the Future and held by specialists. Children in public schools as well as local communities are taught about agroforestry and sustainable farming techniques.

What research protocols does Eco implement in the creation of a collection? Fashion trends, art influences, etc.?
In terms of shapes, we always aim to make an eco-chic statement for all people who want to combine their fashionable looks with a positive impact. The collection is created in our Stockholm office by our design team. However, we collect influences from the other two cities where we work and live: New York and Milan. We look carefully at trends, always re-interpreting them with a strong commitment to functionality and wearability. For example, our latest Eco bio-based frames (63 percent natural origin) are all paired with a magnetic sun clip to easily convert your optical frame into a funky polarized sunglass style. In terms of colors, we take inspiration from natural landscapes and textures, from the wooden shadows of Nordic forests to the nude hues of deserts. Finally, with Modo know-how behind the brand, all is kept together by our passion for details and long-lasting quality.

How would you profile wearers of Eco designs?
They are conscientious consumers, oriented to design and seeking lifestyles and genuine content more than regular brands. With Eco we offer the possibility to choose a distinctive look while preserving the natural world around us. This statement is also what inspired our “I Wear Nature” campaign—which clearly recalls the word eyewear but brings attention to the individual choice, since choosing Eco means to be part of a broader sustainable community.

Are recycled materials utilized for the frame designs?
Yes, our Eco recycled frames are made of 95 percent recycled stainless steel, allowing us to minimize the use of new resources to only 5 percent. Besides recycled materials, we use also an innovative 63 percent natural origin material to create our Eco bio-based frames. Whereas many manufacturers focus on sustainability in the post-manufacturing process, for instance via recyclable and biodegradable materials, Eco already takes an environmental approach to material sourcing. This is what makes Eco so unique.

Does Eco plan to further develop One Frame – One Tree or to possibly launch another sustainable eyewear project?
We are proud of the results we achieved together with Trees for the Future, and we will extend our partnership to reach even more people with our program. For now we are keeping it quite quiet, but we plan to soon reach 2 million trees planted. This milestone will be celebrated with a huge launch and PR stunt, so we do not exclude big surprises coming up soon…