How long it takes everyday items to decompose

Most of us understand the environmental impact of landfill sites. Decomposing waste is one of the biggest generators of dangerous greenhouse gases and has been linked to global temperature increases and the climate crisis.

Despite this, many of our everyday items still end up at landfill sites. Materials like plastic and metal take a long time to break down and erode, meaning our rubbish could exist far longer than we do.

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Is a plant-based diet best for the environment?

While there’s no doubt a plant-based diet is, overall, better for the environment than a meat-based diet, eating vegan isn’t completely flawless.

From exotic fruit and veg that clocks up air miles, to nuts that use eyewatering amounts of water, there’s more to being plant-based than just giving up meat and dairy.

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6 craft ideas for upcycling wine corks

After reusing or recycling your empty wine bottles, you may be left wondering what you can do with the leftover corks.

Whether you’ve found yourself left with a collection to shift or need inspiration for your next craft project, reusing wine corks is incredibly easy and fun.

Can you reuse wine corks?

Good news – it’s straightforward to sterilise wine corks and give them a new lease of life.

After careful cleaning, wine corks are versatile additions to any craft box. The only ‘rule’ when reusing wine corks is it’s best not to use them to seal a new wine – bacteria may have contaminated the old cork, which in turn may affect your wine. On a health basis, we don’t advise it.

How to clean wine corks

It’s essential to clean your corks first to ensure they are safe for upcycling projects.

It’s easy to clean them at home by steaming or boiling them for an extended period of time, ensuring any unwanted bacteria and smells are eradicated. Around 90 minutes should do the trick, then leave them to dry completely before using.

What to do with wine corks

Glass of wine standing on table made from used wine corks

There are plenty of craft projects with wine corks out there for you to try. We’ve highlighted some of our favourites below.

‘Rustic chic’ is trending in interior styles, and this wine cork crafted monogram makes the ideal housewarming gift. Wooden letters are easy to find in most DIY shops or online, and then it’s simply a case of covering the base with your glued corks.

Entertain the kids in winter and get them involved with this homemade festive edition of noughts and crosses. You’ll have hours of fun with the little ones painting these adorable reindeer and snowmen figures, and the result is an eco-friendly game that you can cherish for years to come.

These cork keychains look cool and have a practical purpose too – keeping your keys afloat. Take them to the beach and enjoy peace of mind next time you go for a dip. Get some small screw eyes and thin rings and insert them into the undamaged end by the corkscrew.

If you’re stuck on what to do with your leftover champagne corks and have a big event or wedding coming up, assign seats with these pretty carved out cork placeholders. They also make great wine/cheese labels for vineyard themed events. All it takes to make these is a sharp knife, a steady hand, and patience. Ensure you chop off an edge so the cork lies flat before slicing into the cork for an area to place your card.

Jazz up your plain glass vase with a selection of corks, turning a passed-over piece into a stylish conversation starter. Get yourself a cube or rectangular shaped vessel, your cork collection, and some heavy craft glue, before arranging and glueing your corks as you wish. Don’t be afraid to cut the corks to size or even arrange them in a decorative pattern.

Did you know that soaking natural cork in acetone alcohol for a week will turn them into candles? Take care when lighting them, as they’ll produce a bigger flame than standard candles – recommended for outdoor use only.

What to do with synthetic wine corks

Many wines now come with synthetic corks, which are plastic sponge tubes that sometimes have a mushroom cap.

Most craft projects out there can also be undertaken using synthetic corks, especially where the material itself is not critical to the end result, i.e. it’s just for decoration. Don’t use the plastic corks if you’re doing anything with heat, as these will melt and leave a nasty residue.

Other practical uses for synthetic wine corks include cabinet door bumpers, furniture handles, DIY washers, or even protective caps for knives.

Can you recycle wine corks?

Wine cork from from semi-sweet wine, cork from white wine and cork from red wine among other corks on rusty background

Although wine corks are made from natural materials (oak), their recycling process differs from that of other materials, meaning many councils do not accept them in their household recycling collection.

If you have a home compost bin, you can put your wine corks here. They can also be used as mulch on plants when chopped into small pieces.

Cork recycling schemes have attempted to address the issue of waste in the wine industry, launching a service which allows people to send in their old wine corks.

Recorked UK is the most popular scheme, and they also donate a portion of their profits to nominated charities. Some of your corks will even be donated to schools and organizations for use in craft projects.

Majestic Wine also launched an ambitious scheme, running the UK’s first-ever cork harvest. Partnering with the Portuguese Cork Association (where many natural corks come from), customers will be able to pop their wine corks into recycling bins in-store. They will then be handed over to the Eden Project and used for enriching soils and protecting roots.

 

Want to know what happens to your empty wine bottles? Learn how Forge Recycling can help take care of your glass waste here.

How zero waste shops work: a beginner’s guide

You may have heard the phrase ‘zero waste’ more of late.

Up and down the UK, consumers are seeking more eco-friendly ways to restock their everyday essentials – and this is where zero waste shops come in.

The zero waste lifestyle

Leading a zero waste lifestyle involves cutting down on the amount of waste you produce. For many, that includes eliminating unnecessary packaging, especially when it comes to food and everyday essentials.

Switching to eco-friendly alternatives such as reusing glass jars and avoiding plastic-covered fruit and vegetables is integral to a zero waste lifestyle.

Each year, the UK generates more than two million metric tons of plastic packaging waste, while the amount of food waste the UK produces is worth around £19 billion a year. By only shopping for what you need and bringing your own containers, zero waste shops help cut down these shocking figures.

What is a zero waste shop?

Most zero waste shops operate in a similar manner. Usually, the store will have a range of loose produce for sale, allowing customers to bring in their own containers and fill them up with the desired amount.

Customers are then charged by the weight of the item, meaning they can purchase as much or as little as they wish.

Most zero waste shops stock everyday items such as rice, pasta, pulses, nuts, and spice. Some will also offer non-food zero waste alternatives, such as refillable washing-up liquid, haircare, laundry detergent, and soap.

You may also find loose tea, oils, sauces, and refillable vegan milk options. As demand for the market grows, zero-waste shops are constantly adding more products to their shelves, so be sure to regularly check your local for new items.

How do zero waste shops work?

Before visiting a zero waste shop, remember to bring your own container. This can be a jar, Tupperware, or even a robust bag – whatever is most suitable for holding your items.

Most products in a zero waste shop are charged by weight, usually per gram or kilo.

You’ll start by calculating the weight of your container so it can be removed from the final cost. All zero waste shops will have at least one scale for customers to operate. A label may also be printed – attach it to your container before filling it up.

Fill your container with the desired amount. One advantage of zero waste shops is that you can tailor your purchase to your particular needs, which is perfect for smaller households.

Take the filled container back to the scales and calculator and find out the new weight. This, minus the weight of your empty container, is what you’ll pay for.

Most zero waste shops operate in this way, however, be sure to ask about the process when you arrive before starting your shopping.

Zero waste shops near me

You’ll find a zero waste shop in most areas of the country nowadays, including many in the Leeds and wider Yorkshire region. Supporting these independent businesses is a fantastic way to cut down on your plastic waste and do your bit for the planet.

ecoTopia has two Leeds-based physical stores as well as an online shop, offering nationwide delivery. The Central Arcade shop is also part of the TerraCycle scheme, collecting hard-to-recycle items such as toothbrushes, biscuit wrappers, and crisp packets, which wouldn’t be accepted in your curbside wheelie bins.

The Refill Jar is another online zero waste shop and physical store based in the heart of East Yorkshire. As well as refillable food items, the shop also offers a number of baby products and personal care items, which are all eco-friendly and sustainable.

Serving the area of Doncaster and surrounding areas is Artisan & Eco, a zero waste shop that stocks a range of pulses, pasta, oils, cleaning products, and more. The shop also sells handy ‘ready to go refills’, including a bread mix, gingerbread mix, and a zero waste basics box.

Other local zero waste shops include:

Online zero waste shops

If you want to try the zero waste lifestyle but don’t have a shop nearby, online zero waste shops could be the answer.

EcoRefill sticks to the zero waste pledge by delivering all items in plastic-free, reusable, and recyclable packaging. The company also offers free returns for all packaging, so no waste ends up going to landfill.

For a sustainable food delivery that will help your home compost, Zero Waste Bulk Foods are another online choice. The company delivers items in biodegradable packaging made from cellulose and derived from renewable wood pulp. The USP is that, unlike some compostable plant bags, these are safe to compost at home. They are also approved for anaerobic digestion and marine biodegradation.

 

Find out how Forge Recycling can recycle your food waste, reducing your business carbon footprint by cutting the amount of methane and toxic leachate entering the environment.

15 tea bags that are plastic-free and deliciously eco-friendly

It’s no secret that the UK enjoys a cuppa.

In fact, it’s estimated the British drink around 100 million cups of tea every day – almost 35 billion per year.

If you’re part of the majority and are looking for ways to make your brew more eco-friendly, switching to plastic-free tea bags is a great place to start.

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5 great ways to recycle wine bottles

Late night boozing left you with an influx of empty wine bottles? Party remnants piling up in your recycling bin?

Upcycling wine bottles and turning them into beautiful home ornaments are all the rage and, luckily for us, is a quick and easy trend to recreate. Turn your empty tipples into stylish wine bottle décor while doing your bit for the planet.

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