Umbrellas! They’re so handy and functional (and indispensable depending on where you live) until one small thing breaks. But before you throw that broken umbrella away, there are a few things you can do to recycle, reuse, or repair!
Depending on how your umbrella has broken, it might be an easy fix:
- If the fabric has come away from one of the spokes, check out this handy tutorial to sew it back together.
- If the spoke has broken at a joint then maybe all you’ll need is a bit of wire.
Depending on the manufacturer, your umbrella might come with a lifetime warranty. If this is the case, you should be able to ship it back to the manufacturer for repair or replacement. Check your umbrella manufacturer’s website, which should have information (or phone number to call) on how to send in your umbrella for repair.
Not Repairable, No Lifetime Warranty
Your broken umbrella is, in essence, fabric and metal. Once removed from the frame, that fabric can be used just about as many ways as you can imagine using any fabric. You can make bags or even clothes. You can cut it into strips and make yarn like this project.
The metal portion of the umbrella seems tricky to recycle because different umbrellas are made out of different materials, sometimes mixed materials. Aluminum is a common component for the frame, and aluminum is definitely recyclable, but you will need to check with your local recycler to see if they can accept umbrella frames as scrap metal.
Here’s a great use for clear, plastic umbrellas- garden protectors!
Rain Coats For Dogs!
It’s raining cats and dogs and I just put a poncho on my poodle. Recycling Zychal takes old broken umbrellas and uses the fabric to make adorable and fashionable rain gear for dogs!
According to Taryn Zychal, founder and designer of Recycling Zychal, “Recycling isn’t just an action, it’s a creative and economically stimulating social institution; it’s understanding that when something becomes trash it has the potential to become something better than it ever was to begin with. Recycling inspires creativity and critical thinking. I for one would have never started a business making fashion accessories from nylon if that nylon hadn’t come from a broken umbrella that I found in the trash.”
Recycling Zychal collects broken umbrellas and would love to turn your old umbrella into functional pooch fashion. If you would like to donate your ex-umbrella, watch the video on Recycling Zychal’s donation page for information on how to strip your umbrella and where to mail it.
For each broken umbrella donated, Recycling Zychal gives $1 to the Morris Animal Refuge in Philadelphia, PA. If you are interested in having a rain coat made for your dog, check out their products page, which also includes cat toys and rain hoods for you!
Buying A New Recycled Umbrella
If it’s time to purchase a new umbrella, it’s not too difficult to find one made with recycled content.
The totes Eco ‘brella has a canopy made of 100% recycled PET bottles, a frame made of 70% recycled steel and aluminum, and a handle made of bamboo and 70% recycled ABS plastic. A lifetime warranty comes with all totes umbrellas.
ShedRain’s Ecoverse umbrella has a canopy made with 100% recycled PET bottles. It also has a metal shaft and plastic ribs that are recyclable. ShedRain umbrellas come with a lifetime warranty and if your umbrella breaks, they will repair or replace it for you.
In the U.K., London Undercover makes several large designer umbrellas with recycled content.
The BRELLI is a biodegradable umbrella for rain or sun! It’s made from eco-plastic and bamboo. If discarded it will take 5 years to break down completely (while a normal umbrella canopy would take 40-80 years).
Bonus: Check out this collection of photos of discarded umbrellas at Better Off Soaked.