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I own a Blunt umbrella. From their and other umbrella sites, there is a claim that over a billion umbrellas are thrown away every year.

Nobody quotes a source, and I cannot fathom how 1 umbrella is discarded for every 8 humans every year.

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    I haven't thrown away an umbrella in a couple of years, but I do have a small pile of ones that should definitely be thrown out... Also, I notice that Blunt offers only a two-year warranty for their supposedly "built to last" brand. Assuming only a quarter of the people on Earth own an umbrella, and they throw it out every two years... :) And your average umbrella supposedly lasts even less time than that! Just some back-of-the-envelope thoughts. Commented May 29, 2022 at 13:41
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    Another way of saying "1 umbrella is discarded per 8 humans per year" is "An umbrella typically lasts 8 years (if everybody has one)". Commented May 29, 2022 at 14:11
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    According to Weather News' 2014 Global Umbrella Survey, there are currently about 19 billion umbrellas in possession world wide. If that is correct (and the number does not sound unreasonable), my gut feeling is, that it is an underestimate that only one billion of them break each year, but perhaps people also keep their broken umbrellas and don't actually throw them away. Commented May 29, 2022 at 18:50
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    @Tor-EinarJarnbjo - I wouldn't rely too far on that survey, given the methodology "...cooperation of weather reporters from 35 countries around the world...a total of 38,603 weather reporters in the smartphone apps "Weather News Touch" and "Sunnycomb" responded" (Google Translate of Japanese language sources). So of the self-selecting pool of weather enthusiasts who used a Japanese weather (report submission?) app on their smartphone across 3 days 8 years ago, we have some idea of their umbrella predilictions. Commented May 29, 2022 at 20:34
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    I would guess that this claim came about in reverse. If 1 billion new umbrellas are produced every year (a number that presumably is available and known to umbrella manufacturers) then it seems reasonable to assume that around that many umbrellas are thrown away every year as well. Some accumulation will happen but the number of umbrellas being thrown away each year should be of a simialar magnitude as the number of newly produced umbrellas every year.
    – quarague
    Commented May 30, 2022 at 11:50

1 Answer 1

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According to 27 April 2010 The New Yorker:

The annual retail market in the United States alone is now three hundred and forty-eight million dollars — about thirty-three million umbrellas.

That's about 10% of the population, in a country with many regions where most people don't use umbrellas at all (e.g. it seldom rains, and when it does it's too windy).

If extrapolated to the world population, that's in the neighborhood of 1 billion umbrellas bought each year.

Assuming most umbrellas are bought to replace umbrellas that have been, or should have been, thrown out, the figure given in the question is quite reasonable.

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    Can it be extrapolated to the world population? The population of the US are not representative of the world as a whole. If you tried to extrapolate global car ownership or household income from the US you'd get an improbable figure.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Sep 30, 2022 at 9:41
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    @StuartF, the US is certainly not representative of the world in general. But for low-cost products like umbrellas they might be. Some countries (e.g. UK) will go through a lot of umbrellas each year, while others will use very few, but that is similar to the variation within the US. The extrapolation doesn't have to be precise; but its being in the same ballpark as the disputed world-wide figure means that one billion isn't an unreasonable number, so why should we be skeptical about it? Commented Sep 30, 2022 at 12:46

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