om Broughton’s journey to building a sustainable eyewear brand that’s now beginning to disrupt the glasses market began with a teenage trip to the opticians. It was an eye-opening experience because, to his dismay, instead of repairing his broken frames, they were simply replaced and his old glasses were thrown away, destined to become landfill.
Broughton (picture above) had stumbled onto a widespread problem that has only grown bigger. More than two thirds of people in the UK wear glasses, and they change their frames, on average, every two years, which means tens of thousands of old or broken frames and lenses ending up on the scrapheap. As Broughton realised, there had to be a better way.
A vision for a sustainable future
He founded Cubitts in 2013, from the kitchen table of a flat in King’s Cross. His mission? To make frames that would last, and to make them using more sustainable materials. They also come with a full range of services to extend their life span, such as complimentary refurbs and repairs, and free servicing 12 months after purchase.
Unwanted glasses are donated to eye health charities in Kenya and Ethiopia, or are repurposed into new pairs. Reusing glasses saves on raw materials, energy and carbon emissions – all key parts of Cubitts’ sustainability vision.
“Customers have gotten used to breaking stuff and buying it new, but that is changing,” Broughton says. “People are more cognisant of the things they own, and they want products to have a lower environmental impact and to last longer.”
Cutting out the waste across the supply chain
Cubitts minimises waste across the supply chain through better production methods, using innovative materials such as cellulose acetates made from wood pulp and cotton, and its recycling options. The company is eliminating single-use plastic packaging, and has set up an internal sustainability committee to find ways to further reduce its environmental impact.
“There are small changes that businesses can make which will have a big impact,” says Broughton. “We switched to a predominantly renewable energy supplier and managed to reduce our carbon footprint by almost 30 per cent.”
Cubitts is also reducing the volume of wastage stemming from ill-fitting frames by using face-scanning technology to produce made-to-measure spectacles to submillimetre precision. Customers simply scan their face with the Cubitts app, then choose a frame, customise it and input their prescription. The bespoke, one-of-a-kind glasses are then 3D-printed.
Sustainability is the new bottom line
“The production process lowers our operating costs and we appeal to a much wider range of consumers because it enhances our environmental credibility,” says Broughton. “Which means we can grow market share and become a bigger business.”
The company today has 93 employees, 11 stores, some 110,000 customers and about £10 million in annual turnover. But Broughton sees sustainability as far more than a marketing tool.
“Sustainability is the way a modern, progressive business needs to operate. We believe it’s better for us, the planet and our customers.”
To discover how to make your business more sustainable like Cubitts, sign up for Google’s free training programme here.