Who is ABDO?
For those who are in the optical industry you will know who ABDO is, but for my consumer followers, they are the college that train up dispensing opticians in the UK. So yes, they are a big deal within the sector and because sustainability is big news right now ABDO have started a new initiative – the SEE Summit which is solely focused on sustainability in the optical industry.
I 100% support this because it is something I believe in myself. Recently the COP 27 conference took place, it is a global meeting aiming to get agreements from countries worldwide to cut emissions, along with goals to mobilise finance, assist developing countries and work together. During the conference it was unsettling to hear that we have now missed our chance to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees celsius and there was not enough agreement on reducing fossil fuels.
Three Key Facts
What does this all mean for the optical sector? Here are 3 main helpful points from ABDO for everyone to use within the optical sector.
- Travel: in the research which looked at the carbon footprint of sight tests this was the single biggest factor leading to greenhouse gas emissions. So, if you do one thing, look at how you can encourage patients and staff to move to more sustainable ways of travelling. See the chart below for ideas.
- Utilities: while it’s hard to move fuel companies right now, we can all work to save energy at home and in the workplace. Turning down the thermostat, switching off lights and appliances, installing smart meters and checking for leaks are all small changes we can make. What will you do?
- Single use plastics: and finally, are you working to eliminate single use plastics from your practice where possible? Carry out a waste audit to see what you are throwing away. Talk to manufacturer’s reps, and ask about the changes they can make.
Suggestions from MGAM
Fantastic points from ABDO and I would like to add couple more points too from a wearer/consumer prospective.
- Contact lenses… Yes, we can recycle them but does the process involved to recycle them uses a lot of the earth’s resources? If so, as consumers we need to start asking questions to the manufacturer, to see if there are alternative ways to produce contact lenses or if there is an easier/better way to recycle them. Only by consumers creating a demand will they start to listen. So speak to your opticians, write to the brands or voice your thoughts on social media.
- How often do you change your glasses? What material do you tend to pick? Team plastic or team metal? Yes, acetate is a cotton base fibre BUT lots of chemicals are used to turn them from cotton to a block of acetate so they are not the most eco friendly choice. Plastic in general as we all know is not the best choice of materials. So start thinking about what frame materials are more eco friendly. More and more alternative materials are coming out now too. We are seeing materials that are fully bio degradable with 5 years or even frame materials made from the fibre of beans.
Does it really matter?
I hope this has been a helpful article for my industry and consumer readers alike. It is a mixture of both but I think only by working together can we make a big difference. The optical industry may seems like a small sector to make a big impact BUT every small steps counts and they add up. Also, think about how many people actually wear glasses or contact lenses on this planet? Approximately 4 billion people wear glasses on this planet (figure from America vision council). This figure is just based on glasses so yes, us as an industry, and as wearers, we can definitely make an impact. It really does matter!