With a quick glance through the pages of a DIY craft book or web page, anyone who has a few empty wine bottles around the house can find countless ways to turn them into something decorative or practical. What might it look like, though, if this kind of recycling and repurposing were initiated on a larger scale, in a place like a restaurant or hotel? Those curious to find out may want to stop by Oualie Beach Restaurant for a meal or drink by the beach.
Reggie Yearwood, older brother of Oualie’s director John, says it all began with ashtrays. The hotel prides itself on its TripAdvisor GreenLeaders Platinum Level award and green practices, so when the bar needed a new batch of ashtrays a few years ago, management’s first instinct was, naturally, to find a way to repurpose something that might otherwise be seen as merely trash.
The bar, it turns out, was the first place Reggie decided to look for material. The empty wine bottles appeared to have a base the perfect size for an ashtray, so he decided to give it a try. Using only a hot wire held in place by a washer on either side of the glass, Reggie cut each bottle and then sanded the rims for a smooth, frosted finish. After seeing how simple this process was, and after much positive feedback from customers about the ashtrays, another question presented itself: rather than being sent away with the plastic and trash each week, could even more glass bottles find a permanent home in the bar and restaurant as functional and attractive items?
The answer was yes. Instead of sourcing new drinking glasses, Oualie Beach decided to turn its attention to replacing all of the glasses used in the dining room and at the bar with ones made from recycled bottles.
As they soon discovered, the rosé bottles’ playful curves worked perfectly for serving Oualie’s smoothies and signature cocktails, and smaller glasses cut from beer bottles or mini sparkling water bottles were just right for serving liqueurs. When you enter the restaurant today, you may see customers sipping a tamarind juice or soft drink from green glasses that represent the dozens and dozens of wine bottles that the hotel has recycled. What about the top of the bottle, you ask? Those are kept and used as votive covers on dining tables and as light fixtures!
The most amusing part of the whole endeavor, John says, is that many people don’t even realize at first that they are drinking out of what used to be a wine bottle, which must be a testament to how attractive the glasses are. In fact, the glasses are growing in popularity, and after numerous requests from guests about how to purchase them, the hotel is looking forward to expanding its recycling efforts to be able to offer this “green” item for sale at the gift shop.