As Japan goes through an enormous amount of umbrellas each year, companies are finding ways to reuse them or rent them out.
There are about 120 million to 130 million umbrellas sold every year in the country, according to an estimate by the Japan Umbrella Promotion Association.
Vinyl umbrellas account for a large part of them, though no figure is available for the precise ratio.
A survey conducted by Weathernews Inc. last year showed that people in Japan had 4.2 umbrellas per person, on average.
Nara Prefecture was the national leader at 5.6 umbrellas per person, followed by Kanagawa Prefecture at 5.0, Tokyo at 4.9 and Osaka Prefecture at 4.8. The survey showed that people tend to have more umbrellas in and around urbanized areas of the Kanto and Kansai regions.
People walk fewer steps in the countryside than in urban areas, where they move around more often by means of public transportation than in private cars, according to separate statistics.
The results show a typical scene of urban consumer behavior: people caught in a sudden downpour are apt to buy a cheap umbrella at a convenience store.
The realities provided the inspiration for umbrella-sharing services, which are expanding their operations mostly in urban areas.
I-Kasa has spare umbrellas at around 1,200 depots in 14 prefectures in Japan, according to I-Kasa. The umbrellas can be rented via a smartphone app for only 110 yen 80 cents per 24 hours.
We initially emphasized convenience, but our services have come to be approved from the viewpoints of sustainability and the U.N. According to an official with the Nature Innovation Group, the Tokyo-based operator of i-Kasa, the Sustainable Development Goals have been adopted by the Sustainable Development Goals.
The umbrellas have a return rate of 99.5 percent, according to the official.
Different municipalities have different garbage separation policies when it comes to umbrellas. It is difficult to recycle umbrellas because they have metal frames.
The umbrella made of plastic is made by Ca Et La, a Tokyo-based umbrella manufacturer.
The product, being flexible, does not snap easily in a rainstorm. It is not susceptible to rust and can be discarded as plastic waste.
The frame of the TIC can be used for a long time, because it comes with a replaceable umbrella fabric.
Fashion brands have created bags and other products that have been upcycled from broken vinyl umbrellas.
Aki Saito started the brand Plasticity three years ago.
Plasticity uses materials made by pressing together many layers of vinyl umbrella fabrics, which are waterproof and stain-resistant, to improve their strength. The brand is collecting vinyl parts of umbrellas from the public.
The brand has repurposed about 30,000 vinyl umbrellas and used them for tote bags and other products.
Plasticity bills itself as a brand that should no longer be around in 10 years because of the raw materials it uses for its products should become unavailable when there are no more wasted vinyl umbrellas.
Saito said that making bags does not eliminate wasted umbrellas but I think things could change by using the power of those who sympathize with our products and our concept.