The image of the person caught in the rain without an umbrella, holding a newspaper over their head to keep dry, is a classic one. So is the pile of broken and discarded umbrellas in the gutter. But if London-based product designer Shiu Yuk Yuen can bring her solution to the market, those twin images could become things of the past. The "Eco Brolly" is a handle and frame system that becomes an umbrella as soon as you clip on a newspaper.
The simple, clever design is made from aluminum and fits in your pocket or purse. If it starts raining, unscrew the top lid, poke it through the middle of the paper (or a plastic bag, piece of cardboard, or whatever), and open it out. It works just like a regular umbrella, but reused and easily available materials take the place of the traditional fabric/plastic.
Yuen, who created the Eco Brolly in 2007 as part of her university degree project and is looking for a way to bring it to the market, admits that it is best for short periods of time. Eventually rain will penetrate paper (less true if you use plastic), and you'll need to replace the paper every time it rains.
But considering how crummy most umbrellas are, and all the material and energy it takes to produce them, this could be a simple way to make them obsolete. Either buy a quality product that will last a long time, or go for the Eco Brolly, and keep your head dry with paper that's already produced and on the street.