Pour yourself a nice glass of wine and take a load off. There you go; everyone deserves a break every now and again. Oh, that variety you chose smells pretty nice, doesn’t it? I am sure it tastes good, too. While you savor the deep, rich, grapey essence, I’m just going to take a few moments to share some fascinating informational tidbits about the cork that sealed your bottle. I know, I know. How interesting can a spongy beige cylinder really be? As it turns out, cork leads quite the international life of intrigue.
  • Hailing from the elastic tree bark of Quercus suber oaks, well over half of the world’s sustainably harvested cork is obtained from Portugal’s forests, while the remainder comes from a combination of Spanish, Italian, French and North African sources.
  • The outer cork bark of these unique trees is carefully stripped away with a machete and metal wedge once every 10 years for up 200 years without harming the integrity of the trunk or inner capillary system.
  • The material is deemed to be incredibly eco-friendly because cork bark slowly but surely regenerates numerous times throughout the lifespan of each tree and the industry as a whole is deeply committed to a zero-waste policy.
  • Cork’s eco-cred is even more notable given the fact that Portugal’s cork oak forests (known as “montados”) produce a significant volume of oxygen while also offsetting 4.8 million tons of carbon dioxide annually.
  • 50% of all cork material harvested annually is transformed into alcoholic beverage stoppers (the equivalent of 13 billion wine corks circulated globally), while the remainder is converted into concrete, flooring, shoes, spacecraft heat shields, construction insulation, assorted types of sporting equipment, bulletin boards, fishing rods/floats/buoys and woodwind instruments, among many other items.
  • There are two main types of wine corks harvested from high-quality Mediterranean stock: naturally cut (removed from solid strips of tree bark) and agglomerated corks (granulated raw cork that is mixed with glue and then molded into the traditional shape of a wine stopper), both of which are quality graded in as many seven separate categories.
Wow. Cork is pretty fantastic, wouldn’t you agree? It’s also entirely biodegradable, not to mention buoyant, flame resistant and impermeable to liquid. Given its well-deserved, planet-friendly properties, perhaps we should all think twice before casting aside the corks that once crowned our now-drained bottles of wine.

recycled cork accessories

What’s easily repurposed in our household décor can certainly take on new life in our fashion repertoire. Here are some ways that the sustainable superstar can take an outfit from ordinary to positively spirited:

Accent your neck and wrist

Take your hair into eco-extraordinary territory

  • Kara Paslay fashions sliced cork pieces into original barrette configurations, but don’t stop there — bestow an old hair band with earthy appeal, either by hot gluing, sewing or wire wrapping thinly sliced discs around the entire piece.

Don’t ‘waist’ a drop

Tie one on for a green affair to remember

Wear your planetary admiration on your feet

If, on the other hand, these cork recycling ideas leave you style-horrified, please do our planet a favor by at the very least dropping your unwanted bottle stoppers in a convenient collection bin. No excuses, OK?