I was flipping through the October issue of Prevention this weekend, when I read this statistic: Fewer than one-third of the 3.9 billion bottles of wine bought by Americans each year are recycled.
I immediately looked for the sourcing, because statistics like this always blow my mind. Of course, to my frustration, they sourced the photo illustration — not the information. Thanks, Prevention.
But when I did a little Internet sleuthing, the Environmental Protection Agency cites a similar number for the recycling of glass bottles: About 27 percent of the 11.5 million tons of glass generated nationally is recovered for recycling.
That needs to change. If you’re celebrating the holidays with a little wine this weekend, here’s a refresher on the three Rs — you know, reduce, reuse, recycle — and how you can do each with your wine bottles.
- Reduce: If you know you’re going to be hosting for a large group of people (or joining a larger party), you might as well buy a double bottle of wine. It’s the same mentality as buying a quart of yogurt instead of individual cups: Same amount of product, less waste in packaging. As a bonus, double bottles are often cheaper than two single bottles.
- Reuse: Of course, double bottles aren’t always practical, especially if you’re used to classier wine than Barefoot (which, yes, happens to be my personal favorite at $6.99 a bottle). But before you kick those single bottles to the curb, test out a bit of craftiness:
– I use a nicely labeled bottle for a vase on my kitchen table
– There are also great options for painting bottles or wrapping them in colored twine and making a piece of art from them.
– If the bottle means something to you, turn it into a statement: When my grandmother passed away in 2006, my aunt took a wine named “Lois” (also my grandmother’s name) and filled the empty bottle with a sprig of rosemary and olive oil, setting it on her window sill above the kitchen sink.
– There are also online tutorials for cutting glass into tumblers, although that seems a little more involved.
– Of course, if you’re really ambitious, you can turn used bottles into a bottle tree (Google the term for inspiration — there are plenty of photos). The point is, projects with your wine bottles are endless. Don’t automatically assume they’re trash.
- Recycle: Although it’s the last R, it’s still better than throwing your wine bottles away. According to the EPA, glass can be recycled (melted down and reformed) multiple times. Ninety percent of recycled glass is used to make new containers.
There are plenty of options, but I challenge you to change the one-third statistic. And if you end up doing something crafty with your bottles, send me a photo at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to see it!