How to Recycle Wine Corks

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Wine is a beautiful thing, but figuring out what to do with the corks can be tricky. Because most are made from organic materials, there are several all natural methods for recycling wine corks that are better for the planet than simply tossing them in the garbage.

  • Use them for mulch. If you have shrubbery or plants outside your home, shredded corks can be used as mulch. Because most are made of tree bark, the corks can be substituted for regular bark mulch you buy at home supply stores which in turn saves you money.

  • Compost them. When broken down, corks can be added to your compost pile for easy, environmentally-friendly disposal. They can replace any brown, carbonaceous material you would normally use, and composting remains one of the few free methods of cork recycling in the United States.

  • Get creative. There are a variety of ways people recycle wine corks, and the options are as endless as your imagination. They can be used as trivets, bulletin boards, pincushions, or even potted-plant aerators. Some people have even been known to use them as wall art or fashion them into wreathes (but that's a matter of taste).

  • Check out ReCork America. The new recycling program sponsored by the Portuguese cork manufacturer Amorim began in Oregon and has since spread across the country. While the system is still working out its kinks, wine corks have been recycled into a variety of products for gardening and home repair.

  • Check out Yemm & Hart Green Materials. This eco-friendly company started recycling wine and champagne corks in January 2004 and has successfully converted them into sustainable and useful products for consumers.

Tips & Warnings

  • Many people donate corks to children’s museums for crafts and art projects. Call your local museum to see if they accept cork donations.
  • Not all corks are made of all natural materials. If you want to be truly green, make sure to only buy wine with organic corks.

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  • Photo Credit Peter Dazeley / Getty Images
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