Our Story

Genusee eyewear is Made in Flint, Michigan from recycled single-use plastic water bottles. Every purchase upcycles 15 water bottles and creates jobs for returning citizens in the Flint community.

Our goal is simple: do good for people and the planet using design and collaboration to be the change we want to see. 

Please note Genusee is currently in the process of closing its doors and going out of business. You can read the full statement here. 

The Future is Made in Flint
Genusee is bringing a new manufacturing legacy to the city of Flint by creating jobs; turning the surplus of plastic waste caused by the man-made water crisis into closed loop eyewear. It is not just about being able to recycle materials. We want to upcycle single use plastic into products that have more value and purpose. We are able to upcycle 15 water bottles with every purchase.

Do Good for People & the Planet
Genusee is committed to making long term social and environmental impact in Flint - and beyond. We are tackling issues of social and environmental injustice by using design and collaboration to be a part of the solution.

Reduce Localized Plastic Waste
Only about 23% of single-use plastic water bottles are recycled nationally. This is a problem because it takes 450 years for a plastic water bottle to decompose in a landfill. Which means any piece of plastic you have ever used in your lifetime is still on this Earth - and then some. At the height of the water crisis, the city of Flint was using more than 20 million water bottles a day to meet their daily needs. This resulted in a surplus of plastic being brought into the city. Post-use these bottles have been collected for recycling, re-processed, and resold outside of the city. Other corporations have been benefiting off of Flint’s disaster. rPET is a valuable recycled material that could be used to create jobs, boost the local economy, and benefit the community who has been without clean water since April 24, 2014.

Genusee prioritizes the use of pre-existing materials in the supply chain over creating new ones. By redesigning the lifecycle of plastic water bottles and upcycling bottles into a product of need and purpose Genusee is able to bring the value of rPET back into Flint - where it belongs.

Create Living Wage Jobs
Over 88% of the population in Flint does not have a college degree, yet there are 5 colleges within its city limits. This is a community that has been greatly affected by the outsourcing of the auto industry. In the 1970’s over 50% of the population worked in manufacturing jobs, and today only about 12% do. Many of these workers have been displaced and cannot find jobs that fit their skillset.

Over 41% of the population lives below the poverty line - earning less than $12,082 annually. For those who are employed, 40% of that working population makes less than $10/hr.

Eyeglasses can be manufactured with a basic understanding of tools and on-the-job skills training. By bringing a new manufacturing legacy to the city of Flint, and creating jobs that anyone can be trained to do - we will put people back to work by retraining and employing them in new skills and crafts. We want to generationally impact the lives of people in Flint and believe creating living wage jobs in diverse fields of interest is a key to social and economic justice.

Encourage a Circular Economy
We are currently living in a paradigm of “fast - fashion” and linear economies. We buy, use, and throw away with little to no curiousity or knowledge of where our waste ends up, or it’s impact on the world around us. It’s not just about recycling but designing products and systems from the onset of ideation to be closed loop.

We want to make circularity as easy as possible for our users. We designed a unique Buy-Back Program that allows us to partner with YOU (the consumer) to take responsibility for our eyeglasses in the ecosystem. When you are done using your Genusee eyewear we will buy them back from you for a credit towards your next pair. Yes. You heard us correctly, we will pay you for your used glasses. We will evaluate the quality and wear of the used eyeglasses, allowing us to do 1 of 3 things. Recycle the materials back into our supply chain, refurbish and resell at a discount to a value customer, or donate to those in need.

Give Back to Flint
1% of profits are being donated to the Community Fund of Greater Flint. Donations will be distributed to two funds that address children’s health and education in Flint: Flint Promise & Child Health and Development Fund. Lead is a serious and very dangerous neurotoxin. There is no safe level of lead exposure. Once it enters the body, the effects (depending on age of the person exposed) can be immediate, devastating and long lasting. There’s no way to remove lead from the body once it’s been absorbed into the bones. Therefore, we must find other ways to mitigate the devastating effects. Positive early childhood experiences and good nutrition can help limit the effects of lead on children and improve their behaviors and readiness for school. However, much more is needed. As we grapple with the effects of lead exposure, the Community Foundation’s Flint Child Health and Development Fund is focused on providing health and development interventions to support Flint’s children, throughout this crisis and beyond. Your purchase of Genusee will help our efforts to meet the long-term health and development needs of Flint children exposed to lead. Our children are in a fight, and with your help, they will win!