Pop that cork into a recycling bin

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From Green Right Now Reports

You’re already drinking organic or organically grown wine. And you’ve got a blue bin for glass recycling in the garage. What more can you do to carbon neutralize your wine habit? Take that cork and save it for recycling. Maybe store up a few until you’ve got a bag full and ready to turn in.

Cork Tree (Photo: CorkReharvest)
Cork Tree (Photo: CorkReharvest)

Then take the bag along on your next visit to Whole Foods Market, where you can pitch the leftover cork into a collection bin provided by Cork ReHarvest.

Yes, every little bit counts. Corks can add up, and those little vino stoppers can be recycled back into cork flooring, cork bulletin boards, shipping material for wines and lately some are used to make a new cool shower tile.

So far 150 of 292 Whole Foods stores in the U.S. and Canada have collection boxes, which are currently being added to the 16 stores in Texas, where Whole Foods is based.

Cork ReHarvest is a project that began at the Willamette Valley Vineyards in Oregon where a team was assigned to make sure that the corks the winery was using were coming from sustainably farmed cork forests.

One of those team members became interested in learning more, and soon Patrick Spencer had started Cork ReHarvest in an effort to recycle some of the 13 billion natural corks that are made each year from cork trees in the Mediterranean forests.

Spencer says he wants to correct some of the misinformation about natural cork, which is recyclable and renewable, more so, he believes, than metal caps or plastic stoppers that have replaced cork on many wines. Furthermore, it remains a legitimate component of wine bottling, even with occasional wine taint (when wine goes bad from interaction with cork stoppers). Wine taint occurs in less than one percent of wines bottled with cork, he said.

One faulty notion that has hurt the cork industry is the mis-perception that cork trees are cut down to produce cork. They are not, Spencer says.  Their bark is peeled every nine years to harvest the cork within, but the trees continue to grow and produce new cork and can live up to 300 years.

The business supports many family farmers and also a rich natural environment.

Those cork forests in the Mediterranean support an amazing diversity of life,  with a biodiversity second only to the Amazon rainforests, he says. They maintain the fragile existence of the Iberian lynx, which is near extinction with only a little more than 100 still alive on the planet, and many other species.

Spencer worries that wineries that have moved to synthetic stoppers or metal caps — which he sees as either less recyclable or less Earth-friendly, because the metal must be mined — will crowd out the demand for cork, which assures the survival of cork forests and sustainable cork farming.

“The loss of these forests would in many ways be catastrophic for our planet, they are a major carbon sink, a producer of vast amounts of oxygen, provide 100’s of thousands of jobs and keep the Mediterranean region from certain desertification,” he says.

“Supporting wineries that use natural cork is an easy way for those who want to help and there is the great benefit of enjoying a good glass of wine, while saving the planet.”

To learn more, visit CorkReharvest.org.

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