Consumer Technology eco friendly umbrella gingko

Published on April 13th, 2013 | by Zachary Shahan


The Coolest & Greenest Umbrella Ever (Crowdfunding Goodie)

April 13th, 2013 by  

I know, the first thing you thought when you woke up this morning was: “Isn’t it about time someone made a truly green and long-lasting umbrella?” That’s what keeps me up at night. (That and my inability to stop working.)

An Italian designer with an idea for such a green umbrella reached out to us several months ago about the idea, and about the idea to launch a crowdfunding campaign in order to get it funded. With some in-house expertise in crowdfunding, we offered to help out (for a small fee, of course — we need to eat, too). The resulting campaign just launched this week, and I’m happy to say that the whole project looks really exciting. It may not be the high-tech of renewable energy research labs, but it’s a super green, low-tech umbrella that I think you all will love.

From a brochure about Gingko (that’s the name of the umbrella, as you’ll see in a few seconds if I can stop typing): “Ginkgo is an innovative compact umbrella, redesigned from scratch and made entirely in just one recyclable material. It is stiff and flexible, able to absorb random impacts and windforce without breaking or bending, but also lightweight, colorful and warm to the touch. And 100% recyclable.”

Wicked — didn’t I tell you?

Let me repeat the key green feature of the umbrella: It’s made of one single material, which is recyclable almost everywhere. In other words, when you no longer have any use for it, you just toss it in a recycling bin — no disassembling, no crime, no questions asked. (Though, note that it should last longer than a typical umbrella, so that time may not come for quite awhile.)

Let’s get to some pics and a few more quotes:

eco friendly umbrella gingko

“All Ginkgo components are made by plastic injection moulding, meaning that each part can be coloured as desired, for a virtually infinite variety of possible combinations and customizations. And some cheerful colours under the rain can make a difference.”

green flexible thingy

“The stretchers are not assembled, but made with a single piece of flexible plastic. The peculiar patented geometry allows them to resist strong winds by elastically flexing and returning into position without bending or inverting. The hinges are designed to last for thousands of openclose cycles.”

gingko umbrella parts

“The number of Ginkgo components are considerably reduced compared to the tradional umbrella. Ginkgo is made up of just 20 pieces instead of the 120 pieces of the standard ones. The assembling procedure needs no screws or pivots, as all the couplings are obtained by long lasting and reliable snapfit joints. With few components there is minimal chance of failure, and the design is favorable with production done by injection moulding.”

orange gingko umbrella

“Ginkgo is made entirely in a single material. All the parts, from the canopy’s fabric to the seams’ thread, from the pole to the closing button, are made from polypropylene. All the fastening elements, such as screws, pivots and especially glue, have been replaced by integrated snapfit elements.”

The Green Components

Not sold yet on the green side of things? Plastic holding you back? Here are a few things to consider:

While many umbrellas may contain recyclable materials, almost no one (if anyone) disassembles them in order to recycle them. (When’s the last time you did so?) Instead, they go to a landfill. In the landfill, the polyester canopies may take up to 1,000 years to biodegrade. Meanwhile, about 1 billion (yes, billion) umbrellas are broken, lost, or tossed away in the wrong way each year. Using the classic “how many times could those circle the Earth” example, the designers write that the answer is 18 times.

umbrellas circling the Earth

Not cool.

By the way, those canopies that we told you take about 1,000 years to biodegrade — each year, enough are thrown away to cover a city the size of New York (700 km2).

umbrella new york

And hey, that’s just the canopies. The metal, if you assume a mass of 240 grams per umbrella, would total 240,000 tons of metal waste per year. And to put that into perspective, you could build 25 Eiffel Towers per year with that metal. (Well, you probably couldn’t, but you get the point.)

umbrellas Eiffel Tower

While I’m a big fan of the Eiffel Tower, and wouldn’t mind a few more cities like Paris to visit, that’s not the point, and the metal waste is simply astounding.

All in all, this umbrella nails the three key R’s of green-friendly products: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

  • Production steps have been cut 80%, and pieces have been cut down from 120 to 20. Also, since the umbrella should last longer, fewer umbrellas will need to be produced.
  • Because of the snapfit design, by the way, if one piece is damaged, it can simply be replaced, rather than having to replace the full umbrella.
  • As stated above, this is the easiest umbrella in the world to recycle. Just drop it in a “Plastic” recycling bin and it’s headed for reincarnation.

So, what are you waiting for? Go pledge a few bucks to get yours asap! And never buy an old-school umbrella again!

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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the typed word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession, Solar Love, and Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in.

  • It is so wonderful if such materials support great wind resistance.

  • tbert

    Real question here is: if it breaks, can I replace only those parts thata are broken, or do I need to dump the entire thing? I’m all for the reduced energy/material footprint, but designing yet another 100% disposable product is failing to change a mindset that needs changing.

    • I read somewhere that you could do so. I imagine it’s not the case for *every* part, but that was discussed as one of the benefits somewhere. The way it’s made, that’s very easy to do.

      All in all, these guys really spent a lot of time thinking and planning a very green product. They approached us several months ago with the idea, and our CEO provided feedback to try to make it all as good as possible. But I can’t tell you much about that process, as I wasn’t involved there.

  • Otis11

    These actually aren’t any more than a normal umbrella… Hope they make it! Keep us posted.

    • Bob_Wallace

      If they won’t turn inside out in a gust then they are something special.

      Best not to buy too large. A good gust could take you airborn if you don’t have the normal umbrella safety feature of wind-dumping.

      • Otis11

        Well, it does look like it inverts a bit, but as the arms flex instead of bending at the joint it snaps back instead of staying inverted. At least that’s what I understood from the video…

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