Umbrellas are one of those fascinatingly simply items that got it so right the first time, there’s been little improvement to the original design for over centuries. One thing we have managed to do, however, is make them flimsier.
Sure, you can grab a $4 umbrella at the drug store when a cloudburst catches you off-guard. Sure, it will keep the rain off, but only rain. Add in any kind of wind or hail, and your portable roof is liable to fold up like a, well, cheap umbrella. Most tossed in the landfill when past their prime, but a cradle-to-cradle version conceived by Italian entrepreneur Federico Venturi could simply be recycled into another umbrella.
Called the Ginko Umbrella, the design is meant to both provide a superior level of protection from the elements, while eliminating some of the NINE HUNDRED MILLION metal umbrellas that end up in world landfills every year.
According to Venturi, every element of the Ginko Umbrella would be made from recyclable polypropylene, “including the yarn on which is made the canopy and the the yarn used to make the sewing; also the clips used to close it” he told Fast Company in an email.
The stretchers (aka the arms that deploy the canopy) are not assembled, but made with a single piece of flexible plastic, explains Venturi on the umbrella’s Indiegogo page. 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 open-close cycles.
Venturi says he chose polypropylene for the Ginkgo as it is among the lightest plastic materials whilst being extremely resistant to mechanical stress and chemical agents. And it’s recyclable, although not very easily. Polypropylene is more commonly known as the dreaded #5 plastic, quite difficult to recycle in most curbside programs, although Whole Foods does accept it.
Find out how to customize your own Ginko Umbrella here.