Zeal Optics, the American company recently acquired by Maui Jim, has unveiled a new initiative to help reforest part of the Rocky Mountains near its Boulder, Colorado headquarters, which are heavily impacted by the pine-beetle epidemic. The sunglass maker, in partnership with American Forests, will plant 5,480 trees across the area in 2013. The initiative is called Project 5480, after the figure that equals the elevation of the company's headquarters in Boulder.

Zeal is a boutique brand with advanced technology made for life outdoors, widely known for revolutionizing the snow goggle market with its HD Camera Goggle and the original GPS goggle. American Forests is the oldest national nonprofit conservation organization in the U.S. Founded in 1875, American Forests restores and protects urban and rural forests and has planted more than 44 million trees in the last two decades.

Project 5480 is part of the “Grounded” initiative, Zeal's sustainable development effort, which primarily involves the use of plant-based materials in its frames instead of crude oil. Zeal's proprietary Z-Resin is a plant-based resin made from castor bean oil, which Zeal uses to make the only sunglass line in the world with every frame built out of plant-based materials. Castor bean is environment-friendly because it grows fast and can be grown as an annual. In addition, Zeal recently presented the first ever plant-based lens, e-llume. It is the first lens using a plant-based bonding agent, thus replacing the usual petroleum-based bond.

Zeal's commitment to environmental conservation also translates into a range of initiatives to reduce waste. The company offers incentives to its customers to replace broken parts, instead of throwing the entire pair away, by offering them low-cost repair and replacement parts. It also uses, where possible, paper certified by the Forest Stewardship Council to produce its printed materials. Furthermore, the employees at the Boulder headquarters go to work by bike, and even offices were made using timber from the trees destroyed by the beetles. While winter temperatures used to dip low enough to kill off the insects, this is no longer the case and the beetles have run rampant in the state's forests, killing thousands of trees. Zeal uses beetle-kill wood that would otherwise go to waste, in its offices, for its booths at trade shows, for its new in-store displays all over the world and for other marketing materials.