Written by Sarah Brown on April 15, 2013
Categories: Blog Posts

Since Warby Parker was founded in 2010, the start-up glasses manufacturer has taken the eyewear industry by storm by pledging to bring high-quality, vintage-inspired frames to customers at a significantly lower price than conventional vendors.

Warby Parker was established as a way to cut traditional overhead costs by designing the glasses in-house and maintaining all operations online, rather than in physical stores. By circumventing these usual eyewear channels and engaging with customers directly through their website, Warby Parker is able to provide high-quality, fashionable prescription eyewear at a fraction of the price.

While the company has been recognized for its trendy, cost-friendly frames and innovative business model, one of the best things about Warby Parker is its focus on corporate sustainability and giving back to the community.

Similar to TOMS Shoes, Warby Parker was founded on the principle of Buy a Pair, Give a Pair: for every pair of glasses purchased, a pair is distributed to someone in need.

The Warby Parker website explains that nearly one billion people around the world don’t have any kind of access to glasses. This means that 15% of the global population cannot effectively learn or work because they can’t see clearly — a large-scale problem that Warby Parker is working to address, one pair of glasses at a time.

But rather than donate eyewear using a more traditional “one-for-one” model, Warby Parker funds the production of a pair of eyeglasses for non-profit organization VisionSpring. VisionSpring then provides glasses and training to low-income entrepreneurs in developing countries to start their own businesses selling glasses.

The local entrepreneurs are able to sell affordable glasses to learn a livelihood and serve individuals in their communities who otherwise would not have had access to glasses, and members of the community who previously couldn’t afford glasses are then able to purchase and wear the glasses they need to learn and work.

To date, Warby Parker has distributed more than 250,000 pairs of glasses to people in need worldwide.

Warby Parker is also working to be eco-friendly and sustainable in its operations. The company 100% carbon neutral, and is one of the only carbon-neutral eyewear brands in the world. Warby Parker actively works to reduce its environmental impact by mapping out our greenhouse gas emissions, from frame production to shipping to warehousing to office work, and purchasing carbon offsets accordingly.

Each week during Earth Month, Momentum will feature a business that is positively impacting our planet by focusing on corporate sustainability and giving back through its social mission. Subscribe to the Momentum Blog to read more about the our favorite eco-friendly businesses.

Photo Credit: Flickr