• Home Home

Experts say you should hold on to your eclipse glasses — here's what to do with them

If your glasses are still in good shape, you have a couple of useful options.

Photo Credit: iStock

Millions gathered outside on Monday to look up at the awe-inspiring solar eclipse visible across most of North America. Now that the celestial event is over, though, many are looking down at their eclipse glasses and wondering what to do with them.

Whatever you do, don't throw them away! 

According to the American Astronomical Society, newer glasses and viewers don't have an expiration date. Just make sure they're compliant with the ISO 12312-2 safety standards (should be printed on the inside) and aren't scratched or damaged in any way. You can find out if your solar glasses are compliant by checking the list on the AAS website.

If your glasses are damaged, remove the lenses and throw them in the trash. Then, you can recycle the paper frame. But if they are still in good shape, you have a couple of useful options. 

Of course, you can keep them in a safe place for the next eclipse — a partial eclipse will be visible in the U.S. in 2026, and the next total eclipse of the sun (and maybe also of the heart) in America will be in 2044. Many people chase eclipses all over the world, so you could always travel outside the U.S. for the next one, too. 

If eclipse hunting isn't your thing and you don't want to hold onto your glasses, you can donate them. Astronomers Without Borders and Eclipse Glasses USA will ship the used glasses to teachers, students, and others around the globe who will be experiencing the next eclipse. 

You can mail your undamaged glasses to Eclipse Glasses USA. To donate to Astronomers Without Borders, you can drop off your glasses at many locations listed on the organization's website, and on a national level that includes any Warby Parker store. Many communities have their own local collections organized as well, such as libraries and companies that install solar panels, so check what may be local to you if you don't have a Warby Parker store nearby.

It may seem like a small thing to save, but eclipses typically happen at least a couple of times each year, and the design, materials, manufacturing, and shipping that go into their production have value. If everyone throws them away after each eclipse, that's potentially millions of glasses ending up in landfills every year, with more needing to be made the next time people want a pair — and the last thing our landfills need is more stuff. 

In 2018, more than 146 million tons of waste were sent to the over 3,000 active landfills in the U.S. With an average of 600 acres per landfill, that means 1.8 million acres of land have been filled with our waste, and that's not counting the over 10,000 closed landfills across the country. 

As waste breaks down in landfills, it releases methane, a gas that is "84 times more effective at absorbing the sun's heat than carbon dioxide, making it one of the most potent greenhouse gases and a huge contributor to climate change," according to the University of Colorado Boulder's Environmental Center. 

Luckily, there's more you can do than just recycling or reusing your solar glasses. Numerous companies have programs that recycle goods, and some will even pay you. 

ThredUp will take your gently used items, resell them, and then pay you a portion of the sale. GotSneakers will pay for your used sneakers and even have a fundraiser program so you can recycle shoes for a good cause while keeping the planet cool. Check the TCD Guide for more tips on getting rid of your old stuff.

Join our free newsletter for easy tips to save more, waste less, and help yourself while helping the planet.

Cool Divider