Recycling Bottles

As we unloaded the car last week after our family beach trip our loaded arms clinked with bags of empty wine bottles. I've told Jason before that our garbage men probably think we have a serious drinking problem! Even with all the recycling that happens with The Crafty Wino, we still have to throw away about a box of broken or unusable wine bottles each week.

I've had so many people ask about how I make my candles. I don't pretend it was an original idea. The Crafty Wino started as a fun project to use up what was left from our wedding decor and make a little cash. I did a lot of pinterest research and discovered, from a purely financial stand point, it was less expensive to make my own candles than it was to continue supporting my shopping habit at larger candle stores.

It turns out I'm not the only person who loves a good candle & I quickly reached a point in this business where I could have gotten away from recycled glass and started pouring candles in purchased jars or tins. In fact, it was incredibly tempting. You see while pouring candles in recycled glass was less expensive than shopping for them, it is exponentially more time consuming. The demand for soy candles with amazing scents is there, so why not increase production by cutting out this step? The candles would burn just as clean and smell just as good.

While I was toying with the idea of expanding to different containers, the recycling centers in the Upstate of SC stopped taking glass. A handful of people had started bringing me their bottles regularly & I knew that if I multiplied that by all of the wine drinkers in the upstate the sudden increase of glass in the landfills was going to be crazy! Suddenly the extra work seemed worth it. These candles serve a small purpose now. I've made more contacts so the supply of bottles is growing significantly, but it's still a lot of work.

I get asked all the time how long is takes to make a candle from start to finish. The answer? Three Days. Of course, I can produce 30-50 at once if I have the bottles, but it is not a simple process. The first day is all about delabeling the bottles. That's all I can do that day, because the next step is sensitive to temperature and the bottles need to be at room temperature for 24 hours for the best results. The next three steps can be done in a single day, but it would be a long one, so I usually spread it over two. I use a scoring tool to mark where I want the bottle to separate, then use a hot water bath and cold water bath to separate the bottles one at a time. Depending on how many bottles are in a batch this can take a couple of hours. Once that is done I use a glass grinder to smooth down the edge of the containers. This makes a mess and so all of the bottles have to be cleaned and dried again. Now I can wick and pour the candles. Because I pour in small batches this process takes a lot longer - but it smells the best! They generally take about 4 or 5 hours to set up so I can label them & trim the wicks. 

In the beginning I was only reusing my own containers but I quickly realized how much easier it was to simply wash a container for pouring! So now I give a discount to customers who return their finished candles! It saves me a lot of work if all I have to do is clean and pour & it's just another way to continue keeping that bottle out of the landfill! Now that the word has gotten out and my bottle contributors are growing in number I'm adding more retail locations and even added an online shop for my candles! Shipping is available in the contiguous United States.

Since this area of my business has grown so much I'm more aware than ever of my own habits and I'm making a concentrated effort to recycle more. What do you do to be eco-friendly? I'd love to hear more ideas from you guys about what we can be doing to contribute to cleaning up the earth!

Wanna become a bottle contributor? E-mail me! I do regular pick-ups in the Greenville/Spartanburg area and I'm in the Columbia area about once a month. I send out special discounts and coupons to my contributors periodically and I'd love to add you to that list!