The latest buzzword in the green world is “upcycling.” DIYers take aim and curtail the amount of garbage dumped into their landfills by repurposing and upcycling. By giving a new purpose and value to an old item, the cycle of its life continues.
William McDonough and Michael Braungart, in their groundbreaking book, Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, coined the term “upcycling” as, “the conversion of items that have outlived their commercial usefulness into new things that are functional or beautiful or both.”
You may have heard about New Jersey based Tom Szaky, the eco-capitalist and entrepreneur who created TerraCycle. Szaky, along with Jon Beyer, have developed an idea to eliminate waste. TerraCycle set up a program where citizens can collect waste and get money back in return. Szaky believes you can break the traditional business model and create a business where you drive profit by doing the most environmentally and socially responsible things.
How can you keep your garbage out of landfills? TerraCycle’s goal is to keep millions of wrappers, chip bags and other items out of landfills. Turn your garbage into products when you join TerraCycle’s brigade by collecting yogurt containers, energy bar wrappers, drink pouches, bottles, cookie wrappers, wine corks and Bear Naked bags. Here are some other sites that pay citizens to recycle.
Some of the products TerraCycle offers from repurposed trash are: cleaning products and their containers, fertilizers, bird feeders, backpacks, laptop cases, lunch boxes, rain barrels, pots for plants, seed starter trays, eco-friendly fire starters and a corkboard made from used cork.
What caught my eye was how TerraCycle recycles wine corks. I’ve written before about reusing wine bottles. I’ve been collecting corks for a while, hoping to provide them a renewed life. Inspired by TerraCycle’s goal to lesson landfill garbage, I created this upcyled project.
DIY Wine Cork Trivet
What you need:
32 Wine Corks to make a 7X7 trivet
Discarded wood–I used leftover plywood from an old building project
Mod Podge (see note about adhesives below)
What to do:
1. Gather wine corks (the really fun part).
2. Measure and cut a piece of wood to the dimensions of 7X7. You can use whatever size you want and cut the corks to fit.
3. Set up a pattern with the corks.
4. With the Mod Podge and brush, paint the glue onto the wood, the underside of the corks and around the sides of the cork (so they attach to each other). The Mod Podge will dry clear.
5. Let the trivet dry.
I considered using a hot glue gun to attach the corks, but decided against it because, although hot glue is a craft glue that claims to be non-toxic and non-flammable, it is mostly made from polymer adhesives. Generally speaking, it’s best to avoid adhesives in a product in order to ensure easy recyclability. After reading this passage in World Changing l, and about the toxicity levels of hot glue, it seemed best to use a hot glue gun only if the corks did not adhere to the plywood using Mod Podge, but the corks bonded easily because they were so light.
Ronnie Citron-Fink lives in New York with her husband, two children (when they come home to the nest), two dogs and a cat. Ronnie is a teacher and a writer. She has been a contributing writer for Family Fun magazine. She currently writes articles about education and home design. Her writings are in four books including Family Fun Home and Some Delights of the Hudson Valley.
By Ronnie Citron-Fink