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A sustainable umbrella? Why not?

Julia Bernert

Published on 06.04.2020

The German umbrella manufacturer FARE from Remscheid presented its first sustainable umbrella‚ the ‘ÖkoBrella’ in 2011. At the time, aspirations regarding greater sustainability in the textile industry were still in their infancy. Nevertheless, for FARE it was still about investing in the future. Rather than using plastic or metal in its ÖkoBrella, FARE started using quick-growing bamboo, which requires virtually no fertilizers or pesticides to grow. Bamboo was not just used for the handle but also for the whole frame which was a real technical challenge. “It didn’t sell at all well to start with”, explains marketing manager Andreas Schumann, “but at least we showed what was possible”.

This early commitment has, however, ultimately borne fruit. It has meant that the ÖkoBrella could keep on developing sustainable products in the background. In the meantime, they make up a complete product family in the FARE range, embracing different walking-stick umbrellas, hand-operated telescopic umbrellas and mini telescopic umbrellas. The latest highlight was introduced at the Welt des Werbens und Verkaufens in January: a mini ÖkoBrella with integrated shopping bag. The fabric used for the bag is, of course, suitable for food. “We had it specially tested”, says Schumann. Bamboo still plays an important role today, although primarily as part of the handle. It is still only used in the shaft as part of the walking-stick umbrella. In the meantime, FARE has switched to using certified recycled polyester for its textile covering, which has improved the eco-balance still further. Additional sustainable details include hangtags made of recycled paper and an umbrella cover made of compostable foil. It is also possible to personalise the covering, foil and buttons in the handle.

Fortunately, not only has the ÖkoBrella changed over the years, luckily demand has also increased. This was also in evidence at the last PSI, where a lot of exhibitors clearly focused on sustainable product developments. The advertising industry has recognised that green products bear a special message and are in demand among more and more companies. The same is true of FARE, where sustainability is no longer limited to just one product line but embraces different areas. Thus, the company has presented other new umbrella models alongside the ÖkoBrella. Products, which are also produced using innovative production processes that save a lot of water. The so-called WaterSave collection uses dope dyeing, in which the recycled polyester is already dyed during the spinning process. This entirely removes the need for the classic dyeing of yarn or fabrics and reduces the amount of waste water generated by about 98 percent. “We were able to save six litres of water and up to 70 percent of energy per umbrella because we no longer need to dry them”, Schumann explains.

FARE is still only able to utilise this new process for the colour black because dope dye technology demands the throughput of a high number of units, making it impossible to use it for all colours at the moment. Schumann says, “However, we reckon that the minimum amount will be reduced in future so that we will be able to use this technology for other lines too.”