Give Back

From conservation to crafting, how you can save the world one cork at a time


We’ve been taking a look at some of the wineries that “give back” to various charities, helping to make the world a better place. While this is an admirable part of any effective business plan, it doesn’t absolve the user of these products of at least some responsibility in making sure that the wine industry is sustainable on their end. That, dear reader, means you can (and should) be involved in “giving back,” which in the case of today’s article literally means giving back—your corks, that is.
 
While wine corks come from a renewable resource, the bark of a specific type of oak tree, it takes years for the bark to grow thick enough to be suitable for use. And while cork is of course biodegradable, there are many uses for recycled corks that help keep them out of the waste stream, and reduces the pressure on our natural cork forests. Efforts to recycle wine corks will ultimately allow for the production of higher quality wine corks with a lower carbon footprint for the industry as a whole, and that of course is a good thing. So give your corks to one of these processors, or at least think of ways to reuse your corks with one of our crafty suggestions.

Cork pattern image via Shutterstock 

Cork ReHarvest

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. 

 

 

ReCORK

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.

 
 

Doormat

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. 

Doormat image via Michelle Kauffmann

 

Countertop

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.

 
 

Garden Markers

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. 

 
 
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Comments

  • Snooth User: EMark
    Hand of Snooth
    847804 5,607

    Napa Valley winery Cuvaison has a cork recycling partnership with a company called Yemm & Hart of Fredericktown, MO. Info is on the Cuvaison web site.

    Apr 24, 2013 at 2:58 PM


  • Snooth User: azollex
    1173561 28

    One more way for cork utilization: I'm using them to make quite nice fishing floats.

    Apr 24, 2013 at 3:27 PM


  • Whole Foods in Hawaii does not collect used corks - I have tried and tried to find a way to recycle corks from our restaurant on Maui, we have way too many for fishing floats but love that idea!

    Apr 24, 2013 at 3:48 PM


  • Send them to Wineaux Wear
    7997 Farmingdale Rd
    Germantown, TN 38138

    I up cycle them in to baskets

    Apr 24, 2013 at 4:19 PM


  • I have a friend that uses the corks I give him to make fishing lures.

    Apr 25, 2013 at 9:52 AM


  • You can make key holders from the corks. It's simple, just screw in a hook at one end.

    Apr 27, 2013 at 4:30 AM


  • Snooth User: millab
    1287679 14

    You can send the corks to me aI recycle them into various crafty projects and give them out to others. My address is Milla B. 801 N. Parkcenter Dr., Ste 103, Santa Ana, CA 92705-3526

    May 16, 2013 at 9:01 AM


  • Snooth User: dochatton
    1109227 34

    Check out Molly Dooker. Their "Sip It Forward" bottling is completely dedicated to one of their charity projects with Transform Cambodia and they help many other charity causes (for example, they have donated time and wine to charity fundraising events for the World Services Committe of the YMCA where I serve on the Board of Directors). GREAT wine too!

    Jun 12, 2013 at 6:15 PM


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