When it comes to opening up a bottle of wine, one of the least likely thoughts going through someone's mind is “Ooh, goody! Another cork for my collection!” But that's actually the sort of thinking we're about to encourage. In our research on the cork oak tree, we found out that removing the bark doesn't actually harm or kill the tree because it regenerates in a few years and lives until it's 200, at which time it is removed and replaced with two new saplings.
So cork is actually a renewable, sustainable resource that is harvested without machinery. Perhaps the best aspect of cork is that it can be recycled to become floor tile, insulation, automotive gaskets, craft materials, soil conditioner, sports equipment, and much more. If corks are so environmentally beneficial and useful, why are we still throwing them away? To keep them out of the garbage, we've compiled a list of ways to help you reuse your wine corks. We've also provided information on some cork recycling groups you should check into if you're less creatively inclined.
WINE CORK REUSES
- Protect your floor from scratches and scuffmarks by slicing corks into disks and attaching them to the bottom of furniture, like chairs and tables. This technique also works to quiet the noise of that perpetually slammed cupboard door.
- If you or someone in your home likes to sew, use a cork as a pin holder.
- If you have high-carbon knives, some cleanser and a cork are more effective than abrasive cleaning pads.
- Make a knife holder by gluing several corks together, side-by-side, and making slits in the top. Put your creation in a drawer and store your knives blade-down in the slits to keep them from going dull and to protect your fingers.
- Use wire to string several corks together to create a trivet for hot dishes.
- Make your cat a toy by drilling a hole into a champagne cork, filling it with catnip, and attaching a string to the end.
- Throwing a dinner party? Make place card holders by cutting corks in half lengthwise, then cutting slits along the middle of the curved side.
- This one was pretty hard to come up with: make a corkboard. Put a modern twist on the concept by arranging and gluing corks in various patterns, or just side-by-side, and surrounding them with a classy picture frame.
- You can attach a piece of doweling to a cork to create a useful fishing bobber.
- Grind up a few corks in your food processor and put them in your soil to retain moisture and mulch your garden.
- Carve designs into the top of several corks, dab them in ink, and you've got yourself a free set of stamps to personalize or decorate stationery with!
WINE CORK RECYCLING GROUPS
ReCORK by Anorim, the world's largest Portugal-based producer of natural cork wine closures, is partly sponsored by SOLE, a leading manufacturer of cork footwear. The goal behind ReCORK is to find as many reuses for corks as possible while also participating in tree planting initiatives. They will send you a pre-paid mailing label for you to ship them at least 15 pounds of used corks. They also have 30,000 collection bins nationwide. So far, ReCORK has collected over 8 million corks and planted over 2 thousand trees.
TerraCycle is an eco-friendly company that, among other ventures, teams up with wine enthusiasts, restaurants, bars, tasting rooms, and wineries to collect and convert corks into environmentally responsible products. They'll even pay your shipping costs if you collect and donate 200 corks or more. They also make a donation on your behalf to a non-profit organization of your choice!
KEEP WINE CORKS NATURAL
Visit 100% Cork's website and sign their pledge that tells major wine manufacturers and retailers you will only buy natural cork wine closures.