Last year, Americans sent 11 million tons of glass to landfills. Sadly, every single pound of that could have been recycled. Because it is made from all-natural raw materials, glass is the only packaging material that is infinitely recyclable and with no loss of strength or purity.
Zeke, the talented glass artist behind the Etsy shop Bodhicitta, sees discarded glass as “the metaphor of redemption…the phoenix…the underdog comeback…the disregarded re-emerging as something totally different, beautiful and useful”. Indeed, beautiful and useful are both words that aptly describe Zeke’s reclaimed-glass creations. For close to 10 years, Zeke has been working with glass in all forms, but it is the bottles that he keeps returning to. First, he rescues them from local bars and restaurants. Then, he cuts, melts, drills and manipulates them into functional works of art. The result is Rewined Recycled Glassware.
This planter set, from the “Garden Party” series , is a perfect example of how something once so commonplace can become, as Zach puts it, “so darn cute”. The set made from reclaimed wine bottles features 3 planters and one matching watering vessel with a fire formed spout.
Did you know that reusing/upcycling one glass bottle saves enough energy to power a 60-watt bulb for four hours, a computer for 30 minutes or a television for 20 minutes? This succulent planter kit, also from the “Garden Party” series, is cleverly made from a reclaimed Jagermeister bottle. Zeke has drilled holes in the rescued bottle, lined the bottom with small pebbles and filled it with soil. It arrives at your door ready for planting – simply choose two of your favorite succulents or herbs and set them into the holes. Instant cool for your kitchen or office!
Discarded glass is far from a modern problem. For hundreds of years, glass has simply been tossed-out or buried. As a result, “bottle dumps” are commonly found in rural areas throughout North America. A quick internet search turns up numerous results related to bottle dumps and the glass collectors that seek out and frequent them.
One such collector and a native of Pennsylvania Amish Country, Laura Bergman of Bottled Up Designs has been gathering glass from bottle dumps on farmlands and in wooded habitats all her life. “One thing that has always bothered me though,” says Laura, “is how collectors take the valuable whole bottles and glass pieces, but leave the broken glass behind for the environment and the wildlife to deal with.” In an effort to make use of what gets left behind, Laura designs jewelry from the otherwise unwanted bits and pieces of broken glass. Her recycled glass items, handmade in Pennsylvania, are perfect examples of trash-to-treasure. This pendant, for example, is a unique use of an ordinary Coca-Cola bottle. Stunning in its simplicity, a 1″ glass ring hangs from a sterling snake chain in your choice of length.
Included with all of Laura’s pieces is “The Story of the Glass”, which details the approximate age of the glass and what it was in its previous incarnation. These earrings (below) were created with glass sourced from beer, whiskey, or Clorox bottles; handcut and suspended within a sterling silver hoop. As with all of Laura’s pieces, they are a lovely way to “Preserve History, While Helping the Future”.
It’s not just landfills and “bottle dumps” that are full of needlessly discarded glass; our roadsides, beaches, and forests are full of the stuff, too. Easily ignored, because it often goes unseen, bottle glass is everywhere – to the detriment of both humans and wildlife. Imagine scattering broken glass across your living room rug…or placing shards of glass on your sofa cushions and bed pillows. Scary, right? Now think about what impact all of this glass has on nature! Not only do we need to clean it up, we need to keep it clean. Remember to do your part to reuse glass packaging as often as possible and always, always recycle your unwanted glass.
Be sure to visit Zeke’s blog for specials, news, and upcoming projects. See more of Laura’s beautiful jewelry, including depression glass and mason glass pieces at Bottled Up Designs. Contact your local municipality or visit Earth 911 for more information on recycling programs in your area.