Zeal Optics Unveils Major Forest Restoration Project

On Thursday, June 20, Zeal Optics held a very special dinner to unveil a new initiative to help reforest part of the Rocky Mountains near its Boulder, Colorado headquarters.

In partnership with American Forests, Zeal is rolling out Project 5480 and will be planting 5,480 trees in the first year of the program with the goal of continuing this annually to create a Zeal forest in Colorado as part of its Grounded initiative.

"We are excited to plant a Zeal forest," said President John Sanchez about the project, whose name comes from the elevation of Zeal’s offices. "We believe in doing our part so that the images of the forests we put in our ads, catalogs and our marketing materials are around for generations to come.  Someday I want to walk our customers, friends and my family through these forests."

The idea came about after seeing the devastation that pine beetles have wrought across Zeal’s home state. Over the last decade-plus, the beetles, which were historically dormant in the winter months due to cold temperatures, have remained active year round and are decimating the Rocky Mountains’ lodgepole pine forests, completely altering the range’s ecosystem and exposing the area to severe fire risk due to the massive expanses of standing dead trees. The beetles are estimated to have killed more than 70% of Colorado’s 1.5 million acres of lodgepole forests and are expected to finish their work, leaving an area the size of Rhode Island barren in their wake.

Zeal has been supporting harvesting the dead trees to mitigate fire risk by using beetle kill wood in its packaging, optics fixtures, and office space and decided to take things to the next level with Project 5480.

The brand announced the new project by bringing a diverse group of journalists to a trailhead outside Boulder for a short hike through a valley that had been clear cut due to beetle kill. The hike wound over a ridge providing a disturbing panorama of just how vast the area was, before descending into a meadow surround by dense forests, giving a glimpse of Zeal’s vision for returning some of the impacted areas to their former state.

Over an amazing farm-to-table dinner prepared by Chef Hosea Rosenberg, winner of Top Chef and owner of Blackbelly Catering, Zeal CEO John Sanchez shared his vision for Project 5480 and for the company’s position in the community as live blue grass wafted up to the stars and the moon rose through the branches of the remaining trees in the area.

“What we want is to build sunglasses and ski goggles that enhance outdoor experiences,” Sanchez explained. “That can’t happen if we don’t do our part to rebuild the playing field where these experiences take place. We share our vision with others and the message is simple. There are plenty of branded eyewear options out there. When you partner with Zeal,  you are helping build a brand, a forest, an adventure day for underprivileged youth, a spa day for a cancer patient, and more. In short I use a tree as an illustration for our brand. As we grow, new branches form and our size above ground represents the company’s market growth but what people can’t see is that our roots are growing at the same length. Our social and ecological responsibility initiatives will keep us deeply rooted, humble, and ‘grounded.’ This is what will make us strong and keep us in the market forever as a very unique brand of optics.”

Big thanks to Zeal for a special night and their bigger ideas on the role of business in today’s world.

Follow the jump for the official press release…

ZEAL Optics Partners with American Forests for Project 5480

 For a Reforestation Effort in ZEAL's GROUNDED Initiative


June 27 0, 2013- Boulder, Co. - Today ZEAL Optics announced their partnership with American Forests to plant 5,480 trees, which equals the elevation of ZEAL's headquarters in Boulder, across the nation in 2013. With the newly founded corporate partnership deemed Project 5480, ZEAL will help promote the reforestation of the outdoor areas that are core to their business as a part of their GROUNDED initiative.

"We are excited to plant a ZEAL forest!" said President John Sanchez. "We believe in doing our part so that the images of the forests we put in our ads, catalogs and our marketing materials are around for generations to come.  Someday I want to walk our customers, friends and my family through these forests."

Founded in 1875, American Forests is the country's oldest national nonprofit conservation organization in the U.S.  In the last two decades, they have planted more than 44 million trees.

"American Forests applauds ZEAL Optics' commitment to environmentally responsible practices," said Lea Sloan, VP of communications, American Forests. "Their efforts to build awareness among their customers of the need to protect our nation's forests and to help restore forests through tree planting are a critically important contribution to achieving an ecologically sustainable future for all. Together, we can ensure that future generations have healthy, beautiful forests to enjoy."

ZEAL Optics has the only sunglass line in the world with every frame built out of plant-based materials.  Z-Resin™ is a bio-based resin made from castor bean oil instead of crude oil, making the product eco-friendly without sacrificing quality or performance.  As an industry leader in sustainable practices, ZEAL is proud of its commitment to sustainability and will continue to pave the way for others to follow.

As a part of ZEAL's global GROUNDED initiative, Z-resin™ is only the first step ZEAL took in the line of sustainability. Every effort has been made to reduce waste in production and everyday operations and to encourage consumers to do the same.  One of the ways ZEAL reduces waste is through their warranty and repair services.  Incentivizing customers to replace broken parts instead of throwing the entire pair away through low-cost repair and replacement parts, ZEAL moderates waste and encourages conservation of materials.  ZEAL also produces as much as possible of their printed materials on Forest Stewardship Council certified paper.  At headquarters in Boulder, Colorado employees bike to work and are proud to have an office utilizing beetle kill wood in the construction of the office, resourcefully using the sources surrounding the community.


About ZEAL Optics: Proudly the most sustainable sunglass company in the world, ZEAL designs and crafts every sunglass from renewable plant-based materials. ZEAL is also known for revolutionizing the goggle market with the HD Camera Goggle and the original GPS goggle. Based in Boulder, Colo., USA, ZEAL is a boutique brand with advanced technology made for life outdoors. Stay tuned to ZEAL Optic’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/zealoptics for more updates.

About American Forests:  American Forests restores and protects urban and rural forests. Founded in 1875, the oldest national nonprofit conservation organization in the country has served as a catalyst for many of the most important milestones in the conservation movement, including the founding of the U.S. Forest Service, the national forest and national park systems and literally thousands of forest ecosystem restoration projects and public education efforts. In the last two decades, American Forests has planted more than 44 million trees in forests throughout the U.S. and in 44 countries, resulting in cleaner air and drinking water, restored habitat for wildlife and fish, and the removal of millions of tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Learn more at www.americanforests.org.