Blue Planet Eyewear’s line of stylish yet low-cost sunglasses and readers started as a passion project in the Santa Barbara garage of the late David Weinstein almost 40 years ago. But it’s since grown into an eco-minded, Carpinteria-based company that continues to thrive as “my saving grace in life,” according to his son, Matt Weinstein.
The elder Weinstein first began making Blue Gem Sunglasses in 1982, and the brand soon became known for a diverse collection of styles and frames. In 2009, he decided that there was a better way to handle the massive amounts of waste involved in manufacturing. So he created new glasses out of all the postconsumer material and dubbed it Blue Planet Eyewear. “He wanted to do a better job creating a line that was eco-friendly and better for the environment,” said Matt Weinstein, who is now brand manager for Blue Planet. Today, the glasses are all made from recycled plastics or metals that are nickel-free, which reduces toxic byproducts. They also use non-lead paints and offer many frames made from sustainable bamboo.
The company enjoys being headquartered in seaside Carpinteria. “We love Carp,” Weinstein said. “All of our eyewear is designed with our beach lifestyle in mind.”
In addition to Blue Planet’s environmental charge, the company takes social responsibility one step further by sponsoring school fundraisers and beach cleanups. But its primary charitable program is called Visualize Change; for every frame sold, Blue Planet donates a pair of glasses to someone in need through partnerships with charities like SEE International, Direct Relief, Feed the Children, and the Best Day Foundation. To date, Blue Planet has donated more than 150,000 pairs of glasses to people in need in the U.S. and world. Explained Weinstein, “I wanted it to be something where someone can feel good about what they’re purchasing, not only from an environmental standpoint but also knowing that their purchase is helping another person in need.”
Growing up, Weinstein didn’t necessarily think he’d be running his dad’s sunglasses company. While backpacking around the world in 2012, he was working at an orphanage in Africa when he got a phone call from home informing him that his father had been diagnosed with cancer. After six months taking care of his father until he passed away, Matt was quite involved in the company. “I ended up falling in love with what I was doing,” said Weinstein, whose mother, Deborah Weinstein, has taken over her late husband David’s role as president.
His wife, Lisa Lawenda, is vice president of sales for Blue Gem, which remains Blue Planet’s parent company, and the two now design all the frames in Blue Planet’s line. The couple just recently celebrated the birth of their baby boy. Matt Weinstein credits his father’s company and his wife’s support for grounding him and bringing him home. “It gave me a future,” he said.
Blue Planet’s glasses can be purchased online at shopblueplaneteyewear.com or at retailers such as Plum Goods on State Street.