Yesterday, I wrote about upcycling used plastic bags into usable rain gear. Today, I’m writing about upcycling broken rain gear into usable eco-goods!

Yes, I’m talking about umbrellas. Those devices too often succumb to rain instead of repelling the wet stuff, making the so-called rain repellents better fit as inspiration for Magritte paintings than for wet weather. Well, they’d seem that way if Magritte were still alive….

In any case, if you’ve got a broken umbrella or two in the house, rest assured that you’re not the only green-minded umbrella wrecker. These collapsibles self-destruct so often that there’s even been a fashion competition based on upcycling the broken remnants into new eco-fashions. Called Umbrella Inside Out, this 2006 competition got rain-soaked fashionistas competing for eco-design fame!

But you don’t have to be a fashion designer to make use of your old, unusable umbrellas. Fellow MNN blogger Jenn Savedge has shared a video about how to turn these things into a skirt, pouch, or purse — and I too have blogged about a book that lets you upcycle an umbrella into a purse. And if you like to plan early, Jessica Wilson’s got instructions at Craftzine on how you can create an upcycled umbrella tree for the holidays.

Don’t have the courage to attempt to upcycle an umbrella on your own? Donate your broken umbrella to RecyclingZychal at Etsy, and her shop will donate a buck to the Morris Animal Refuge. Your donation will then get upcycled into an umbrella dog rain coat to be sold on RecyclingZychal’s Etsy website.

I actually broke my umbrella about a year ago, but have yet to part with it, having opted instead to come up with a temporary fix. Basically, one of the hinges for a spoke/prong broke — so I “fixed” the break using a wire, which I got by removing the papery stuff around a twisty-tie thing from a bread bag.

Yes, my fix is a little janky — The “fixed” hinge sticks up a bit higher than all the other hinges. But the fix was zero waste, the umbrella still works, and I still live in Southern California, where rain falls rarely.

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