Shining a light on sustainability

Anti is a sustainable, cruelty-free, design firm in Kent that’s transforming discarded waste products into beautiful new things. It’s just released its first product line of lamps made from old umbrellas

Anti is a waste transformation business in Kent that uses products that would typically end up in landfill as building blocks for beautiful new things.

It’s shining a light on all things sustainability.

Ever wondered what happens to all those cheap umbrellas sold for a fiver that barely see you through a sudden storm?

It’s estimated that over one billion umbrellas are made each year, but most are not built to last, with an average lifespan of just six months.

Anti takes these products and breathes new life into the discarded.

Shining a light on sustainability
Shining a light on sustainability

Its first product line is upcycled lamps made out of old umbrellas that were originally destined for landfill or incineration.

The umbrellas are first disassembled into their separate materials groups (plastics, metals, nylon) and are then made into attractive, functional desk and table lamps.

Not only that, but the new products are easier to disassemble at end of life than the umbrella was in its original state.

Shining a light on sustainability

This brilliant, sustainable initiative is driven by Anti’s founder, Mark Howells, a serial entrepreneur and an ethical vegan for the past six years, who studied product design at university.

All of his unique handcrafted products are made with care by himself at his design studio in Kent.

And there’s a clear demand too with the lamps selling fast, as consumers move away from our throwaway culture to a more sustainable, circular economy.

That means a groundswell of support for upcycling businesses that are focused on making great products that ‘close the loop’ — designing out waste, by designing with waste.

Shining a light on sustainability

“Most of today’s products are still being manufactured using materials that are harmful to the environment, cannot be recycled easily and end up as waste that cannot biodegrade,” says Howells.

“Anti began as a direct response to this. We only create products that have a circular lifecycle, using waste products and turning them into desirable objects for our clients to use, love and cherish. Our products are also easier to reuse when the time is right, setting an example to an outdated industry.”

Shining a light on sustainability

In the case of old, unwanted umbrellas, for instance, the environmental footprint they would otherwise leave behind in landfill is devastating — their nylon canopies may take up to 1,000 years to biodegrade.

In fact, it’s estimated that umbrellas create some 240,000 tons of metal waste per year, roughly the equivalent amount of metal to build four Sydney Harbour Bridges.

Howells spent three years during the project research phase to understand the umbrella waste problem in detail.

Shining a light on sustainability
Shining a light on sustainability

He found that 98% of the world’s umbrellas are made in China, many of which are produced in Songxia, nicknamed ‘umbrella city’.

He also noted that umbrellas are often discarded on trains or trains stations, or simply lost.

London Underground’s lost property department, for instance, collects around 10,000 umbrellas every year; these will be destined for landfill or incineration.

“Harnessing waste as a free resource, we create products that are genuinely circular in nature, free from animal cruelty, clever and authentic in origin and design,” says Howells.

“Our designs are made from a mixture of materials, some upcycled (umbrellas), recycled and biodegradable with only 5% of the product material coming from virgin materials. We also take back products post-use.”

Shining a light on sustainability

And, as you’d expect, the new range of desk and table lamps is also energy efficient: both lamp designs are 12v using efficient G4 LED bulbs to reduce energy consumption and the amount of virgin material used in G4 lampholders and bulbs.

“We hope customers love our products as much as we love making them.”

Anti’s desk and table lamps are now available from £180 at: anti-waste.com