Wine corks as eco-friendly packing peanuts

Wine corks used as packaging peanutsMy fiance and I are moving tomorrow, so I’ve spent the whole day today packing up boxes — an activity that, if you don’t want your plates and wine glasses to be in millions of pieces when you reach your destination, requires a lot of stuff.

Cardboard boxes, packing tape, wrapping paper, bubble wrap, foam peanuts … I’m starting to feel like half the stuff we’re moving is just the packaging! By nature, moving is not the most eco-friendly, uh, move.

But we’re doing what we can to reduce our waste on this trip. For one, we’re reusing lots of boxes and paper that another friend who just moved was able to pawn off on us. (Before she offered up the goods, we’d been planning to use free second-hand boxes at U-haul’s “take a box, leave a box” service.)

Instead of bubble wrap, we’re protecting fragile stuff with crumpled newspaper, blankets, towels, and clothes. And we’re using the opportunity to clean house and get rid of the things we know we no longer want or need. So far, I can tell that one stop at Goodwill in the morning will save us at least one trip back and forth across town with the U-haul, and valuable space in the truck.

But back to those wine glasses. No matter how much paper wrapped them with, I still felt nervous putting them in a box with no other protection. I looked around our living room for something else I could use as some type of filler. Then I spotted the giant jug of wine corks in our kitchen.

We’re really not sure what we’re going to use the corks for — maybe a bulletin board or maybe these cool placeholder cards for our wedding next year. But we’ve been hoarding them away, even stealing them from friends’ houses, for about two years now, and we’ve got several hundred. Yeah, we drink a lot of wine.

For now, they’re exactly what I needed to provide a little more cushioning for my glasses: wine corks as eco-friendly packing peanuts! (Side note: Wouldn’t this be a cool way to ship a nice bottle of wine as a gift?)

Oh yeah, and if you’re not moving — or planning to make some awesome recycled craft out of your wine corks — you can always send them back to ReCORK, an organization that recycles natural cork and raises awareness about the role that cork can play in reducing climate change. I’ve seen drop-off bins at our local wine stores, and you can find a location near you on their website.

Of course, you can always send ‘em my way, too!

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About Amanda MacMillan

Amanda MacMillan is a health and environmental writer whose work has appeared in Prevention, Health, Whole Living, and National Geographic's The Green Guide. She lives in Brooklyn and is currently chronicling the process of planning her wedding while making sustainable, healthy, and budget-friendly choices on her blog, Lean Green Bride.