Recycling Eyeglasses

The World Health Organization estimates that the eyesight of one-fourth of the world’s population can be improved through the use of corrective lenses. Unfortunately for many, a pair of glasses is both unaffordable and inaccessible. In developing countries, an eye exam costs as much as one month’s wages, and a single doctor may serve a community of hundreds of thousands of people.The collection of used eyeglasses for recycling is a project of local Lions Clubs and the North Carolina Lions, Inc. It is an on-going, year-round program involving Lions Clubs throughout North Carolina.

Used eyeglasses that are collected by Lions and other volunteers are recycled at one of nine Lions Eyeglass Recycling Centers throughout the world. The used eyeglasses are cleaned, repaired and classified by prescription. The eyeglasses are then distributed to those in need by Lion volunteers and other organizations hosting optical missions in developing countries.

Individuals may donate their used eyeglasses year-round to their local Lions. Collection boxes are available from the North Carolina Lions.

The program seeks metal frames in any condition, reusable plastic-framed glasses and non-prescription sunglasses. It also includes precious metal scrap such as old watches, jewelry (even bits and pieces such as a single earring or cuff link, or a broken chain) and silverware.

It does not seek cases, hard or soft, contact lenses, or broken plastic-framed glasses.

Metal-framed glasses and scrap metals are sold to a refinery and the redeemed cash is used to help meet various emergency needs of blind people in North Carolina. Jewelry is sold intact and the proceeds used for the same purposes. Reusable plastic-framed glasses are sent to the Lions International Warehouse where they are cleaned, tested, classified and sent abroad to medical missions and welfare agencies for redistribution.

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THE BASICS OF GETTING A PROGRAM OFF THE GROUND:

  • Put someone in charge and set up a collection point.
  • Meet with, or write a letter to the newspaper editor or radio station manager to explain the details of your campaign, including the names of the people involved.
  • If your club has a bulletin, write an article for it about the collection drive. Follow up with reminders.
  • Prepare collection boxes and place them with posters in selected locations.
  • Opticians and optometrists can keep a collection box in the waiting room.
  • Check with lost and found departments in hotels, stores, police stations, etc., for unclaimed glasses and/or jewelry.
  • Ask members of your club to spread the word among their friends and other groups to which they belong.

 

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