For all of us non-20/20 people, that don’t wake up to the luxury of clear eyesight, we have two options. Glasses or contacts. And although glasses are a fine option, you don’t always want to wear them every day. I understand fully.
I just switched over from glasses to daily contacts a few months ago. I quickly realized how much waste this was making for me. Contact blister packs, the lenses, the solution, and the foil on top. Well, like all of my other problems, I headed to the internet to find how I can avoid this.
According to a recent study, 20% of people throw their used contact lenses in the toilet or down the drain. Contacts are made to withstand lots of friction and harsh conditions so they don’t break apart in our eyes. Therefore, they are unable to break down or get caught in water filters and cleaning systems. This practice accounts for 22 metric tons of contacts being improperly disposed of yearly polluting our water sources with more microplastics.
Not only are the lenses polluting water systems, a daily contact wearer uses two blister packs and foils each day. Although this might not seem like a whole lot, they really do add up.
This whole idea may seem small, but once you start collecting your waste, you will see how much waste it makes. And it can be done in 2 steps!
Here is how I recycle my contact lenses:
1: Collect your contact lenses, blister packs, and foils in a cardboard box.
This is where you will see the accumulation of waste really start to add up. I normally keep a small jar in my bathroom or bedroom to put my used contacts in and when the jar is full, I close it up and add it to the box. This just makes sure I don’t have any stragglers laying around. For the blister packs and foils, I just toss them right in the box after I empty out any extra solution in them.
2: Find your nearest drop-off or print a FREE shipping label
Bausch + Lomb, a contact lens company, has a system where you can send your used contact waste back and they will reuse them! Dropping them off at a local location does eliminate shipping waste but if there is not one close to you, shipping is a great alternative.
Find the nearest dropoff (mobile access only): Click Here
Print a free shipping label: Click Here
That’s it! Collect and ship! With these two steps, you can reduce so much of your waste from contact lenses.
If you would rather donate your lenses to a charitable company- check out TerraCycle. They will take your hard to recycle or dispose of items- pens, plastic gloves, toothpaste container, etc- and find ways to use them! Their mission is incredible. They take their profits from recycling items and donate them to charities. They have donated $21 million to this date. How incredible is that?
I hope all of you contact wearers or loved ones to contact wearers found this helpful. Please comment any questions you may have below. Happy contact collecting!
Are you interested in knowing more about the recycling process of everything you throw in your blue bin? I did a comprehensive tour of a recycling facility and wrote about the entire process for each material. Check it out to learn the ins and outs of recycling.
More ways to reduce waste:
- The 5 Big Swaps to Start Your Low Waste Journey
- The Surprising Process of Recycling + Photos From My Tour of A Factory
- 21 Best Zero Waste Swaps That Save You Money!