Sandals made from Wine Corks

Looking to decrease your carbon footprint? A Montana-based footwear company might offer the most literal way for you to do just that. SOLE, a manufacturer of footbeds, socks and sandals, is partnering with ReCORK, a wine-cork recycling program, to design a new line of products. The company’s “upcycled” footbeds and footwear will be made with wine bottle tops that come from restaurants, culinary schools, and an airline that participates in the recycling program.

SOLE sandals will soon be made with recycled wine corks

Corks are received at a storage facility in Napa, Calif., and one in Great Falls, Mont. The corks are sent to SOLE’s factories in Asia to be used in products and packaging. While SOLE is focusing on integrating the cork into its footwear, other uses ReCORK cites for upcycled cork include fishing rod handles, bulletin boards, place mats, flooring tiles, building insulation, gaskets, packaging materials, and matting under playground equipment.

The ReCORK program is sponsored by Amorim, the world’s largest producer of “natural cork wine closures.” About 12 million wine-bottle corks have been collected for processing since 2007, and the organization touts it has also planted 3,000 cork oak trees. Says the company’s literature, harvesting cork does not harm the trees, in fact the trees provide “an important source of carbon-dioxide sequestration.” Sounds like that’s sustainable product sourcing at its best.

SOLE’s cork-based Napa sandal

—T.C. Worley