Ever wonder what happens to all of your old
How many of us have come across a piece of trash or plastic when strolling along our beaches? At the heart of downtown Santa Cruz, we at Plaza Lane Optometry believe in a sense of community, whether by supporting local businesses or by doing our part to protect the environment and our beautiful local scenery. Our goal is to make a difference not only by improving our patient’s lives through eye care, but also by reducing the amount of waste we leave behind as an industry. You too can help us make a big difference by recycling something as small as your contact lenses.
We partner with Bausch + Lomb in support of their ONE BY ONE Recycling Program with TerraCycle to reduce the impact of used contact lenses and their packaging (or blister packs) on the environment. We invite you to help us reduce plastic waste by bringing in your used contact lenses and packaging to our office for recycling. There is no charge or minimum amount to participate. Simply save your old contacts and packaging, drop by our office whenever it’s convenient for you, and leave your recycling with our front desk. Your used contacts are upcycled into playgrounds and more. In addition to reducing our environmental impact through contact lens waste B+L’s ONE BY ONE program also donates $1 for every pound of recycled material to Optometry Giving Sight.
Environmental impact of contact lenses:
Approximately 45 million people in the U.S. wear contact lenses and a majority are unaware of the proper way to dispose of them. Over the last couple of years more light has been shed on the impact of contact lens pollution. Many people have presumed that these small pieces of plastic are so small and thin that they must be biodegradable. However, most soft contact lenses are made of plastic materials like hydrogel and silicone hydrogel that are not biodegradable. A nationwide study by Arizona State University in 2018 found that 1 in 5 contact lens wearers were not disposing of their contacts properly, in fact they were flushing them down their sinks and toilets, likely thinking them tiny and harmless. Those 20% contributed approximately 6-10 metric tons of plastic waste to U.S. wastewater annually. This plastic waste is further broken down by water treatment facilities into microplastics that are considered detrimental to marine wildlife.
Why can’t I recycle contacts in my regular recycling bin?
Although plastic, your standard recycling bins at home will not work well for contacts. Due to their small size, contacts are usually filtered out by your local recycling process and end up in landfills.
- Any brand of used contact lenses
- Any brand of used contact lens packaging (Blister packs)
- All contact lens cases
Contact lenses are prescribed medical devices, and just as you wouldn’t throw prescription drugs down the sink or toilet you should also properly dispose of your contacts. They are wonderful devices that can help you see clearly and can free you from glasses. In fact, people with higher prescriptions often see better with contacts than glasses. Our goal is NOT to tell you to stop wearing your contacts, but rather to encourage you to be a responsible contact lens wearer and to bring in your used contact lenses and packaging to reduce plastic waste and pollution.