Cork pattern image via Shutterstock
Cork ReHarvest is probably the largest, and most influential reprocessor of wine corks, having drop-boxes located in all Whole Foods markets as well as throughout the country, partnered with local restaurants and wine shops. Just drop your corks off in the collection boxes and they’ll be destined for reuse in a number of consumer products. Founded in 2008, Cork ReHarvest is part of the Cork Forest Conservation Alliance, an organization whose mission is to help preserve and protect the Mediterranean cork forests and their related ecosystems.
Sponsored by Amorim, the world’s largest producer of natural cork wine closures, ReCORK collects used wine corks from consumers and turns them into the soles of sandals. In addition, ReCORK also plants cork oak trees, ensuring a continuing supply of eco-friendly natural cork for use in the wine industry and the many other consumer products that take advantage of cork’s natural flexibility. Many wineries, wine shops and restaurants throughout the country participate in the ReCORK program, making it easy for consumers to contribute their used corks.
Now it’s time for you to get thinking about recycling your own corks. There are a lot of projects out there that take advantage of wine corks, though a lot of them seem better suited to pristine corks or are for products that you’ll rarely need or use. Now a doormat, that’s something that we can all use, and you don’t need to worry about beautiful corks when they’re going to be underfoot. I’ve seen doormats produced from both corks on end, and those laid down horizontally. Personally I think those made with the corks arrayed vertically are both more attractive and more durable, with spaces between the corks that allow for water, dust and debris to drop out of sight.
There have been a lot of trivets produced with wine corks, but what about going whole hog and just making a countertop out of those corks? You’ll need a lot more corks of course, but you’ll end up with a burn resistant, break resistant, easily replaceable work surface. I think this is a particularly cool idea for a cooktop surround, where you’re always looking to set down hot pans. I haven’t seen anyone do this yet, but this project is a good start.
So you only have a few corks, and you aren’t that crafty to begin with—don’t think you’re getting off scott free here. Even if you have just a few corks, you can use them individually and keep them from meeting their fate in a landfill. I like the idea of using them as garden markers, and this suggestion of using forks as stems for the signs is cute, and durable. It just goes to show that anyone can reuse corks. And that you don’t really need special skills to start saving the planet. Just drink wine.