Repairing Umbrellas, Repairing our Environment

“Now that it's raining more than ever, know that we'll still have each other. You can stand under my umbrella. You can stand under my umbrella, ella, ella, eh, eh, eh”. It seems as if Rihanna has formed an emotional attachment to the beloved umbrella, with her hit song, aptly named “Umbrella” yet do we think twice when we dispose of our (most of the time) cheaply-made, thus easily-broken umbrellas?

In HKUST, the Umbrella Repair Group is attempting to start a conversation about our consumption and the product lifestyle, specifically concerning umbrellas. Today we talked to Natalie, who has been working at HKUST for over a decade. She realized the tremendous impact that humans have had on the natural environment, specifically when it comes to our over-consumption quickly depleting natural resources. An interesting point was brought up when she had mentioned that she noticed that back then, it was a norm for society to reuse and fix household items until they were irreparable. However, with trends like fast fashion and the advent of cheap and convenient products, it becomes so much easier to be stuck in an endless cycle of buying, disposing, and simply repurchasing everything we touch. Although it may be more expensive to buy higher quality products and repair them in the short run, the benefits in the long run, specifically towards the environment, are much more than we might initially expect.

Passionate about the sustainable lifestyle, Natalie has been involved in the Green Team, a group of volunteers from the different communities of HKUST for 9 years. They have conducted many different campaigns and activities that promote an eco-friendly living such as a campaign to encourage people to bring their own lunch box containers when they buy takeaway, NGO talks, beach cleanups, and most recently, Umbrella Repair Workshops. Here, she and her team at the Green Team invited Mr. Joseph Kam from Umbrella Reborn to hold workshops since last fall in order to directly teach interested individuals how to repair minor umbrella damages, aiming to reuse and give another life to the umbrella that keeps us comfort from the sun and rain. The group also hopes the participants will organise more free repairing and demonstration to the wider campus community. By promoting initiatives like the Umbrella Repair Group, Natalie aims to start conversations about sustainable lifestyles in the HKUST community. On the individual level, it may seem like it is impossible to create actual change, but it all changes when we all collectively decide to help. One way to help is by joining the Green Team to support initiatives like the Umbrella Repair Group. You can be a part of the change to drive the sustainable lifestyle at HKUST together with like-minded peers!

There will be another umbrella repairing workshop to be held on 18 February (Sat) 9am-3pm, and a demo on 7 February at the SSC Hub outside Passion from 12pm-2:30pm. Please drop by the demo to join us or stay tuned for the workshop registration on events calendar. 

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