Brazilian Umbrella Service Spreads

A novel rental service from Brazil has established itself in New York and will soon spread to Europe. Rentbrella, first available in São Paulo in 2018, allows people to borrow an umbrella for free as long as they return it within 24 hours. The umbrellas can be found and returned at automated kiosks conveniently located throughout their respective cities.

Umbrellas are the latest entry in the trend of sharing services in big cities. Over the last few years, bicycle and ride sharing services have become popular in many places. Sharing services often have reasonable fees that make them attractive to users. However, in the case of Rentbrella, charges are only applied if the umbrella is kept longer than a day. Users in New York can keep their umbrella for a second and third day at the cost of $2 per day. After three days, they are charged the permanent purchase price of $16. Rentbrella keeps the costs down by selling advertising space on the umbrellas.

New York's Central Park after a downpour

New York's Central Park after a downpour (source)

In addition to providing cover during sudden downpours of rain, Rentbrella serves an environmental function. Previously, unexpected rain caused some people to buy cheap umbrellas that quickly broke and added to the discarded plastic polluting the streets and oceans. Rentbrella umbrellas, in contrast, are durable enough to last for years. Furthermore, they are made from recycled PET bottles, and when the umbrella is retired, its materials are recycled once again.

The service is expected to be available in London soon.

Sources: forbes.com, timeout.com, reuters.com

For source links, see the article on ESLNewsStories.com

Worksheet with activities

Audio

Hear the article spoken:

Useful Language

  • Novel (adj) - new and different
  • Automated (adj) - done by machines or computers, without human control
  • Kiosk (n) - a small store or machine that provides services or information
  • Respective (adj) - separate, particular
  • Downpour (n) - sudden heavy rain
  • Discarded (adj) - thrown away
  • Durable (adj) - able to last for a long time
  • PET bottle (n) - a bottle made from a recyclable plastic

Discussion

Discuss the following questions with your partner(s).

  1. How often does it rain where you live? Do you ever get caught in the rain?
  2. Do you use umbrellas? What are some ways of dealing with rain besides using an umbrella?
  3. Does your city or town have rental bicycles? Do you use them?
  4. What do you think about the Rentbrella service? Would you use it?
  5. Do you like sharing things? Or do you prefer to keep your things private and separate from other people’s things?
  6. Have you ever been to Brazil? How was it? If not, are you interested in going there?
  7. Would you rather buy something cheap that doesn’t last long or something expensive that you expect to last a long time?
  8. Do you recycle? What kinds of things do you recycle?
  9. There is a lot of discarded plastic in the world. How can we reduce the amount of plastic we throw away?
  10. Advertising pays for many things these days, especially online. Does advertising bother you, or is it just a part of life?
  11. Do you think Rentbrella will succeed in London? Why or why not? Where else do you think it should become available?