Why You Should Think Twice Before Throwing Away Wine Corks

Did you know it takes about 40 years to make a wine cork? No, really — corks are harvested from cork oak trees, which must grow for 25 years before virgin cork can even be removed from its saplings (via Cork Quality Council). What's more, cork suitable for wine stoppers isn't typically harvested for about 20 more years after that. In other words, the next time you're poppin' bottles, you may want to think twice before throwing away the wine cork that went through a pretty long process to be made.

Wine corks have incredible benefits beyond keeping wine in a bottle. Plus, reusing them reduces waste and helps the environment. They can even be recycled into shoes, yoga blocks, and so much more (via Bustle). Crafting is a great activity for your brain, so for those who love to take on projects, you'll be thrilled to know that wine corks can also be repurposed into home goods like floor mats, vases, holiday décor, and backsplashes. So, before throwing those wine corks away, let's look at some of the awesome things you can do with them instead.

From wine cork to craft project

Some of these projects require more than a dozen wine corks, but if you start saving now, you'll get there in no time. There are countless wine cork-saving boxes out there, kind of like an adult piggy bank, for easy cork collecting. This first crafty (and super easy) way to reuse those wine corks is by making coasters. Great for keeping your countertops and tables protected from water marks left behind by that cold glass of white wine, coasters are a necessity for any wine connoisseur. DIY Candy's step-by-step instructions on making the coasters are super helpful — all you need to do is boil and cut the corks, glue them together with hot glue, and add a felt bottom.

For those with a smaller cork collection, wine corks make great chip clips, floor protectors, cord keepers, pot lid lifters, earring holders, and cat toys (via HGTV). For those with a green thumb, natural cork can be ground up or cut to form mulch to help your plants hold moisture (per Bustle). Or, make an inexpensive plant marker by stabbing a metal skewer toward the center of your whole wine cork and write the names of your plants with a Sharpie. The limits are endless when reusing those small wine corks, so don't be so quick to trash them next time!

Here's what to do if you must toss them

If you aren't a crafty person with a green thumb, chances are you most likely don't care about keeping your wine corks. In this case, you'd be happy to know that natural corks are environmentally friendly and biodegradable, so tossing them in the trash can is a safe bet (per Wine Spectator). You can also throw them in your compost bin — just make sure the cork is 100% natural and has zero synthetic materials. (Hint: If the cork is lighter, woody feeling, and spongey and squishy, chances are it's natural.)

There are also organizations like ReCork America that collect natural wine corks and recycle them into other helpful household items (via Bustle). You can find drop-off locations on its website. So far, the company has collected over 100 million wine corks. Even if you don't intend on using your crafty abilities to turn your corks into other household items, saving them and donating when you have a substantial collection is a great way to help replace those environmentally harmful materials in products with a natural, sustainable alternative.