Have you ever thought about how many cheap, flimsy umbrellas are discarded every time they blow inside out or come adrift just when you need them? How many times have you seen an abandoned umbrella lying in a wet and crumpled heap in the gutter? It’s something that Pamela Zonsius pondered and then she decided to apply her skills to the problem and developed the world’s first biodegradable umbrella.

Named the Brelli, Pamela’s stylish creation was inspired by the simplicity and Zen-like quality of oriental design. The Brelli has a sturdy handle and an intricate frame crafted from sustainably-harvested bamboo—a naturally renewable resource. A clear umbrella hood lets you ‘see’ and ‘be seen’, because who lets a little rain get in the way of showing off that fabulous (fair trade and organic) outfit? Fusing fashion with the latest in technology, the Brelli’s patented design features a certified biodegradable plastic canopy. This material has a unique chemical composition which allows it to completely biodegrade in landfill environments. Unlike conventional plastic, which takes hundreds of years to break down, the Brelli’s bio-plastic canopy is certified to fully biodegrade in one or two years. What’s more, the gases released during the degrading process can be harvested to generate electricity. So more than 90% of the energy used to create the Brelli could thereby be recycled.

For the environmentally conscious fashionista, the world’s first eco-chic umbrella is a must-have. The Brelli is currently only available in a few select shops in the US (see the Brelli website for details), but the good news is that it’ll be available online from January 2008, so shipping policy dependent, we can all have one.