Uncorked: Recycling for winos

BlogHer Original Post

While enviros have a rep for hoarding all manner of crap for fugly craft projects, wine corks are one of those items that even avowedly non-enviros tend to collect in jars or other clear containers, for reasons that remain somewhat unclear to me (perhaps as a reminder of good times had while slightly tipsy?).

So for all of you with a cork stash that's getting too large, here's a roundup of eco ways to dispose of said stash:

1. Compost or mulch them. Umbra of Grist points out that traditional cork's "an organic material, aka oak-tree bark, and could take the place of bark mulch if you use it -- or any brown, carbonaceous material in your compost pile."

* Pro: Free.
* Con: Requires a compost pile, green bin, or garden -- meaning this option's a no-go for most apartment dwellers. Doesn't work for plastic corks.

2. Send them in to get recycled into tiles. I found out via Karina at Tiny Choices that a company called Yemm & Hart wants your corks. The plan's to turn said corks into eco-friendly tiles, which will hopefully sell, allowing Y&H to turn this corky scheme into a profitable business, which will hopefully eventually allow Y&H to compensate cork-senders. Send 'em to Wine Cork Recycling, Yemm & Hart Ltd, 610 S. Chamber Dr., Fredericktown, MO 63645.

* Pro: Comfort knowing your corks'll get a new life as good looking, eco tiles.
* Con: Must pay for postage. Incurs travel miles (and resulting CO2 emissions). Doesn't work for plastic corks.

3. Send them in to get recycled into "cool products." TerraCycle's now accepting wine corks -- both natural and synthetic -- which the company will turn "into cool products that will be available nationally at major retailers." If you've got fewer than 100 corks, all you have to do is mail them in to TerraCycle, ATTN: Cork Brigade, 121 New York Ave., Trenton, NJ 08638.

* Pro: Both plastic and traditional corks are accepted. TerraCycle's a cool company.
* Con: Must pay for postage. Incurs travel miles (and resulting CO2 emissions). Some of TerrCycle's "cool products" are actually kinda fugly.

4. Make Korknisses -- and a GI Joe raft. Korknisses appear to be little decorative cork people, perfect as holiday decorations and such. I found out them because my sister knit some cute ones -- which inspired her husband to create a lil cork raft -- which was discovered to float quite well in a bathtub, keeping the korknisses safe and dry.

* Pro: Process may turn into fun, spontaneous bonding time between two people. End product is cute.
* Con: Requires knitting skills and investment in a glue gun. Playing with korknisses and raft could get boring over time for intelligent adults.

5. Make other crafty stuff. Trivets are a popular corky project -- my sis made one of those too (right) -- but you can find all sorts of ideas for DIY projects incorporating wine corks just by a lil googling.

* Pro: Crafting is fun. Reuse is satisfying for the eco-soul.
* Con: Resulting piece has high probability of being eco-fugly. Even Umbra of Grist warns against the "infamous hideous trivet."

Last but not least: Consider opting for wines stopped with traditional corks whenever possible. After all, plastics are forever -- and one has time to play with only so many kornisses --

Images top to bottom: jeffsmallwood, via TerraCycle, via yoelknits

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BlogHer Contributing Editor Siel also blogs at greenLAgirl.com

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