Broken umbrellas

Vancouver Living Rule #1: even if the weather is fair when you leave the house, don’t be fooled, take your umbrella with you because you will need it (you’ll probably need it every day from November through January and again in June).

Yes, it rains a lot in Vancouver. And on those oh so frequent rainy days, one sight is constant: umbrellas. Have you noticed them? No, not the ones with which every person in the city is shielding themselves. I mean the forlorn umbrella propped up by the transit station, or the handle of one awkwardly poking from a dumpster, or pieces of the frame strewn across a lane. Why the lack of recycling love (especially in a city trying to be the greenest) for a device that provides a dry haven from the barrage of wet?

Well, if you were a good citizen, you would take your broken umbrella apart and put the pieces where they belong. But, most of you will either put it in the garbage (that’s NOT where it belongs!) or just abandon it where it failed you (even worse). However, some of us are crafty, DIY-ers who want to show the rest of you that garbage really can be someone else’s treasure.

So, confession time. A couple of years ago, my first maternity leave to be exact, I got the wild idea of collecting broken umbrellas with the intent of taking them apart and making them into useful things. I admit that I went a little overboard on the collection part (David likes to remind me) and did not end up making as many “useful things” as I had hoped (who knew babies took so much time?!). However, I think I had some good ideas for upcycling broken umbrellas.

1. Kite: it didn’t fly, but could have with a few design modifications.

2. Baby mobile: a friend and I worked on this together for her son.

3. Costumes/bags: the material is great for costumes (I am currently working on a mermaid costume for my daughter using the material from a pink and purple umbrella) and bags (around the time I was doing my own thinking about upcycling umbrellas, a group of students at SFU were doing the same).

4. Garden trellis

5. Chandelier

6. Umbrella holder

Well, I hope that others “out there” appreciate my enthusiasm. If you have any upcycling broken umbrella adventures, please share your stories/pictures!

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