There are few places in the world more hazardous for umbrellas than the Netherlands, a country under constant assault by stiff winds and pelting rain.
Like many Dutch natives, Gerwin Hoogendoorn had grown accustomed to replacing broken umbrellas after storms. But after losing three umbrellas in a week, Hoogendoorn — a master’s student studying industrial design and engineering at the time — decided he’d had enough.
“After doing some research I discovered 1.1 billion umbrellas are thrown away each year — the equivalent weight of 70,000 elephants,” the 38-year-old said. “I was fed up and I decided I had to solve this problem.”