An estimated 4.8 to 12.7 million tons of plastic waste ends up in our oceans every year, approximately as much as a truck load per minute. Just a small amount of that global input of plastic waste swims on the oceans’ surface for us to see. The rest sinks to the bottom and further, nearly impossible for us to reach or to clean up. At this time, about 80 million tons of waste are estimated to lay on the seabed, and by 2050 there will be more plastic in our oceans than animals (WWF Germany).
One item you may not consider as being part of the global waste problem is the umbrella. Once considered a noble accessory, today it is mostly a disposable product: a slight bend in a storm, the umbrella ends up in a garbage can. Shockingly, over a billion umbrellas end up in the trash each year worldwide.
The Berlin founded company Studio Wetter has assigned themselves to create a fair, fashionable and sustainable alternative for this everyday item that has increasingly become disposable. The result: an umbrella that combines sustainability, longevity and an appealing design. With their first collection Studio Wetter Trocken (Dry Collection), the founders Carla Dikdur, Ramona Hartmann and Larissa Hunekohl have designed their first line of premium umbrellas that have been produced with recycled plastic bottles under climate neutral conditions. The founders, who have been friends for many years, share their vision to bring back the umbrella as a sustainable, premium accessory that is build to last.
They view their umbrellas as part of a bigger movement that advocates conscious consumption and sustainable use of resources. Their motto: “buy less, choose well!”
At every level – including production, employment, investment – Studio Wetter prioritizes acting as sustainably, transparently and fairly as possible.
The production of the umbrellas is climate neutral; unavoidable emissions from production are offset together with ClimatePartner, a company that offers solutions for climate protection by helping to calculate and reduce CO2 emissions, implementing climate protection strategies and offsetting CO2 emissions through climate protection projects.
For the product itself, recycled materials like Polyester from 100 percent recycled plastic bottles are being used for the cover and particularly durable alternatives for the umbrella frame. As there are no longer any European umbrella manufacturers, the umbrellas are being produced in China by a reliable BSCI-certified partner who shares the requirements for quality, sustainability and fair working conditions just as Studio Wetter.
The packages, which are filled with fully bio-degradable material made of corn starch, are packed and delivered by MOSAIK, an organization that enables individual developments and career paths for people with disabilities.
And finally, for every umbrella sold of Studio Wetter a contribution goes to the Plastic Bank project, in which collected plastic is exchanged for money and essential goods. Big brands such as IBM, Aldi and Eat Natural are part of this regenerative society that is revolutionizing the world’s recycling systems to create a regenerative, inclusive, and circular plastic economy. In developing countries in particular, huge amounts of plastic waste are created by packaging and a lack of infrastructure for disposing of waste. As mentioned above, this garbage finds its way into the oceans and rivers quickly, destroying ecosystems and the natural habitat of many animals (source: WWF Germany). Plastic Bank gives people in Haiti, Indonesia and the Philippines the possibility to collect plastic waste in exchange for money, food, drinking water, cell phone credit, cooking oil or even school fees. The exchange value of the plastic is higher than the actual local market value, so that the local people can truly make a living from it. In this way, the project affects ocean plastic while improving the lives of those who help collect it and reprocesses materials for reintroduction into the global manufacturing supply chain.
The Berlin designed umbrella evidently tells a holistic story other than just shielding one from rain. A sustainable accessory, so simple yet useful – for the consumer and the environment.
by Marie Klimczak