May 10, 2010

A Grape Cause. ~ Matas Vilgalys


By this point, the choice to recycle empty wine bottles comes naturally to most drinkers, at least here in Boulder.

But what many people may not realize, myself included, is that natural wine corks can now also be recycled.  For the first time, Whole Foods has begun also offering vino lovers the opportunity to recycle natural wine corks.  Until now, natural corks could be used for a variety of craft projects, like the bulletin board in my parents’ kitchen, or as a natural method of biodegradable mulching, like in Waylon’s backyard.  The efficiency of Whole Foods’ partnership with Cork ReHarvest will redefine the sustainability of wine enthusiasm, whether through a daily glass to your health or a daily bottle to deal with your impending divorce, mortgage, etc.

This partnership allows Whole Foods to join Cork ReHarvest, the largely unknown group leading the cork recycling movement in the US and Canada in recycling natural corks without significantly increasing their carbon footprint.  The corks’ trips from stores to recycling centers tacks onto truck routes that already include both destinations.

Just as the recycling process complies with sustainable commitments, the harvesting of cork is also surprisingly eco.  Cork trees are not cut down, but rather the cork bark, a remarkable looking hunk of wood, is harvested every decade or so.  Also, natural cork is 100% natural, renewable and biodegradable and provides a much more green option than plastic corks or screw caps.  Finally, the roughly 6.6 million acres of Mediterranean cork forest that extend throughout the region are also home to an extensive outlet of biodiversity, seconded only by the Amazonian Rainforest.  These forests protect not only the endangered species within their boundaries, but also provide sustainably sourced resources for everything from wine to classroom bulletin boards.

Whole Foods Market is now the first national retailer to accept natural wine corks for recycling all of their 292 stores in the U.S., Canada and the U.K.


Matas Vilgalys is a senior at CU Boulder pursuing double degrees in Art and Advertising.  He likes cheese, working on projects, loving the mountains, running, and talking about North Carolina, the greatest state in the union and coincidentally where he is from.

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