Archive | recycle

Where can I recycle wine corks?

You dug corks out of your basements to recycle them with Upcycle It! We collected several large bags of corks. I can’t even count how many people told me, “I’ve been saving them for years. Couldn’t throw them away. I’ll bring them to the Farmers Market next week.” And they did! Now that the program can no longer accept corks, what to do…..

First some background on why you should recycle corks.

Cork is 100% recyclable, biodegradable, and renewable. It is obtained through an environmentally friendly harvesting process. Trees do not need to be cut down. The bark is stripped by hand every 9 – 12 years. The bark regenerates and the cork oak trees are capable of living for 300 years according to Cork So on the production end, these are pretty sustainable little products. In fact, after they are done keeping your bottle of wine sealed, they can continue to be useful. There is no reason for it to end up as waste. Used wine or champagne corks can be recycled into shoes, flooring tiles, building insulation and craft materials. So, how do you recycle your share of the 13 billion natural corks produced each year? There are several options.

Natural Corks

For the casual wine drinker:

Probably the easiest option around here is to take them to any Whole Foods (closest location to Westford is Bedford). As of last April, Whole Foods partnered with Cork ReHarvest to recycle natural corks. They have placed containers in all of their stores to collect the corks. Cork ReHarvest is a 501 c3 non-profit “dedicated to the protection and sustainability of the Mediterranean cork forests and the families, who for generations have farmed these forests.”

For large quantities:

ReCork by Amorim recycles natural corks as well. They work with a company called SOLE to turn the used corks into shoes. There are drop off locations located in Cambridge, Boston, Nantucket and a few in NH. If you expect to collect a lot of corks (about 1650), Recork will pay the shipping. Click here to find out more.

Synthetic Corks

Now both of these options only solve the natural cork issue. What about those synthetic corks? Take a close look. Some have a recycling symbol on them – you can throw them in your curbside recycling.

Natural and Synthetic

TerraCycle will still upcycle all natural or synthetic corks and pay the shipping. However, they are not paying the 2 cents to our schools anymore. As much as I would love to continue to upcycle all these corks, Upcycle It! is so busy that we just don’t have the time. If you would like to upcycle your own, check out

The crafter

If you are crafty, try making these….

Cork board


Or this bath mat

You could also turn it into a spout for a bottle. Cut a wedge shape groove along the side of the cork and push it back into the wine bottle. You reuse the bottle too!

Have any ideas? Please share them. Are you a crafter in the area who needs corks? Leave a message and I’m sure I can get you lots.


I’m curbside recycling, now what?

So now you are into the groove of recycling all the standard Westford curbside stuff. What else can you do, easily. Here are a few more things to add to your recycling list.THE WHAT1) Plastic bags: “Huh”, you say. Wouldn’t I be suggesting to use reusable bags. Well, yes. Whether you use reusable bags or not, a) you still seem to accumulate some here and there, and b) there are TONS of other plasticy-type things that can be taken to those big “Plastic Bag” bins at local grocery store. Things that SHOULD NOT be put in your curbside bin. And again, if you are not currently in the habit of using reusable bags and don’t want to try, yet, here is an alternative.

Hannaford and Stop and Shop accept all #2 and #4 plastic bags or wrappers. This includes grocery and other store bags, produce bags, bags for bread, grapes, carrots, cauliflower, Land’s End bags (the ones they pack the clothes in when you order), wrapper around Honest Kids drink pouches… Check for the symbol. It’s on more than you might think. I bring my reusable bags with me everywhere and I still have a bag ‘o plastic to take back to the grocery store each week.

Other grocery stores and Target have plastic bag recycle bins. These are the only 2 that I can say take all #2 and #4 for sure.

2) Upcycle It! items. If you haven’t heard about this great program. Take a look. We take all kinds of non-recyclables – energy bar wrappers, chip bags, candy wrappers, coffee bags, drink pouches and more – send them to TerraCycle who upcycles them into tote bags, backpacks and flower pots to name just a few of their over 150 products. In return, TerraCycle donates 2 cents per item. This money is goes to the Westford Public Schools. Please be sure to check the Upcycle It! website so you know what is accepted and what is not.


Make it easy and convenient. Pick a place, right now, and set up a bag, box, whatever you have to catch all of your plastic bags. Now, print the list of acceptable items for Upcycle It! and put it up. Pick a place to put another bag or box to catch this stuff too. I have a shoe box on my counter. My neighbor hangs a plastic bag on the door to her food pantry.

Obviously, reducing what you use in the first place is really the key. It saves energy and resources – not only natural ones, but your energy and resources (think hauling all that stuff home, dealing with throwing it away, taking out more garbage, and the money). But again, small steps. I still think it is easier to start here. By doing this you will open your eyes to what you get rid of. From there, you can take steps to reduce where you can.

There are many more things that do not need to go into the trash. Take a look at the Westford Recycling Commission website. Know of any other things we come across regularly that could be recycled or reused by someone instead of thrown away?


Westford Recycling Do’s and Don’ts

Yes the order is REDUCE, Reuse, Recycle, but it’s hard to jump right in and start reducing (i.e. changing) the products you love and use everyday. So for now, start with an easy one – Recycle all you possibly can, right now, using methods you have available at your fingertips – or rather your curb.

Westford recycles quite a bit curbside. For tons of information, check out the Westford Recycling Commission website at I have highlighted the essentials here and tried to clear up any confusions people might have.

1) EVERYTHING can be mixed in the same recycling container. No need to separate paper from plastics, glass, cardboard….

2) Make sure you have a large recycle bin. It will make it much easier and you will recycle more. If you don’t currently have one of those large black and yellow rolling toters:

  1. Convert one of your existing trash barrels to a recycle bin. You can get a FREE recycle sticker at the Town Clerk’s office at the Millenium Bldg.
  2. Buy one for $40 through the Recycling Commission. You will need to prepay. Send a check payable to “Westford Recycling Commission” to the Westford Recycling Commission at 55 Main Street, Westford 01886
  3. Be put on a waiting list for a free one. Currently the waiting list is about 800 people long. To be put on the waiting list: email with “Westford Toter Request” in the subject line. Please provide your name, address, and phone number in the body of the e-mail.

3) Make recycling easy. Place extra recycle bins in various places around your house, next to or in place of a trash can. I use a cardboard box!

Types of materials Accepted at Curbside Recycling


ALL plastics labelled #1-7. No styrofoam of any kind even if it has a #6 label
Caps and Lids can be included.

plastic grocery bags
snack bags – i.e. potato chip or pretzel bags
plastic produce, bread, newspaper bags, and thin flimsy type bags


Recycle all paper – colored, school, fax, newspaper, magazines
milk and juice cartons
cereal boxes
telephone books


Make sure all cardboard is cut into 3ft x 3ft sections
Recycle your pizza boxes – as long as there isn’t too much grease or any pizza left – if in doubt, rip off the top to recycle and throw the bottom in the trash.
toilet paper or paper towel tubes

Wall paper
foil wrapping paper


all clean bottles and jars, clear or colored, deposit or non-deposit
can leave labels on

Broken glass
window glass
light bulbs


all clean cans and their lids.
aluminum foil, plates and pie pans

Oil based paint cans
auto parts
scrap metal
propane cylinders

Straight from the Westford CAT show “ABC’s of Recycling“:

The Recycler we use has very sophisticated machinery used to separate the recycling, so they will catch anything not recyclable.


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