The Dame brothers in Eagle, Idaho, are steeped in the history of wood. Their grandfather started a sawmill 60 years ago, their father runs the business today, and in 2010 the three siblings decided to take wood on a whole new trajectory – sunglasses – and the product is very cool, very hip, very good for everyone involved, and very worthwhile to have on your next journey.
The company is Proof, which has shown in a short time that you don’t have to forsake your conscience to be sexy or profitable. The sunglasses have already found their way into celebrity circles, but they also have helped thousands of poor people see. A portion of every sunglasses sale goes to the Aravind eye clinic in India.
Aravind began in 1976 with an 11-bed hospital and now has 4,000 beds in seven hospitals, mostly in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Helped initially by an American social entrepreneur, Aravind is run like a market-driven business, where the operations paid for by the wealthy subsidize the operations on the poor.
The clinic today repairs the eyesight of some 300,000 people a year, and most of those operations are done for free. Proof is going to build one of the first rural clinics in India that will be used for screenings and eyewear fittings.
“Its pretty exciting for us,” says Proof founder Brooks Dane.
According to Proof’s website: “There are countless people in need in third world countries, and a little bit of help can go a long way in restoring sight to thousands.” When it first started, Proof contributed to other organizations too, but it found that it didn’t know where the money was going.
Says Brooks, “Today we focus strictly on Aravind, which has been a good move for us as they are a good partner and we can physically see the fruits of our partnership. Funds aren’t going into anyone’s pockets.”
As for the sunglasses themselves, Proof uses woods from all over the world that are only from managed forests, no illegally harvested timber. Its bamboo is “panda-friendly,” meaning that it never uses the younger bamboo that is more tender and favored by pandas. Its ECO collection, meanwhile, uses plastic that is plant-based and biodegradable, not oil-based. And it’s skate collection is made of, well, old skateboards.
Proof sunglasses are sold all over the world, so check for a store near you.