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:
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.
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).
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.)
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!