Green soft goods designer, Taryn Zychal, and her team of Broken Umbrella Rescuers can be spotted out after a rainstorm looking for broken umbrellas wallowing away in trashcans, subway stations and gutters. Her company, Recycling Zychal, then transforms them into stylish and functional green products that are far from trashy.
Zychal says the idea came to her about 5 years ago while still living in her hometown of Scranton; she was shopping at a Salvation Army and came across a stylish little teal umbrella with white whales on it that she picked up for $1. When she got home, she realized it was broken, but loved the print too much to throw it away. She decided to strip it, wash it, and turn it into a dog coat for her pug.
“I didn’t want to just turn it into a handbag, skirt or something that really wouldn’t use it’s water-resistant properties to it’s fullest, I wanted it to do what it was intended to do, but better”, says the 25 year old ecopreneur.
From there Recycling Zychal was born. Taryn became obsessed with collecting not just some of the broken umbrellas around her, but all of them. She installed a “No Broken Umbrella Left Behind” policy and started hiring her friends to help her collect them. By 2009, when she officially launched her storefront on etsy, Zychal had a startling number of broken umbrellas collected, stripped, washed, tagged and ready to be made into custom made Upcycled Umbrella Dog Rain Coats, which are her signature and most popular item.
Today, Recycling Zychal has expanded into more than just custom dog rain coats, and now sells Organic Cat Nip filled Kitty Toys, babushkas that Zychal calls HOODs, baby bibs, kitchen aprons, dog and cat beds, and placemats that are all made from the salvaged remnants of broken umbrellas. Taryn Zychal recently found out that her Upcycled Umbrella Dog Rain Coats were nominated for a Cooper Hewitt People’s Design Award.
Recycling Zychallaunched a new program on November 1st, “FLORA, FAUNA, FUNCTION”, that is designed to help keep the streets clear of broken umbrellas, help support non-profit animal organizations and act as somewhat of a bailout for her small green company.
The FLORA, FAUNA, FUNCTION program works by having businesses volunteer to set up a Broken Umbrella Donation Bin, provided by Recycling Zychal, in their storefront for people to toss their broken umbrellas into to get recycled. When the bin is filled, Zychal will then remove the broken umbrellas and donate $1 for each one collected to an animal helping organization, the first one being the Morris Animal Refuge in Center City Philadelphia.
As an active member of the Humane Society, ASPCA, and Humane League, Zychal, who is also a vegan, understands the importance of helping animals as the weather starts to cool down and shelters start to fill up.
“It’s a triple win”, says Zychal, “You’re keeping the broken umbrellas out of the trash by recycling them, helping animals, and supporting a green business, all the while, it helps the business hosting the bin out by supporting a green movement and bringing in new customers.”
If you are interested in hosting a Broken Umbrella Recycling Bin at your business, or if you would like to donate your broken umbrella to Recycling Zychal, please email Taryn at firstname.lastname@example.org