TreeHugger Picks: Heard It Through the Grape Vine
While drinking organic wines is one of TreeHugger's favorite ways to enjoy the fruits of the earth without harming the planet, wine an its derivatives are good for so much more. Here are some of our picks that go beyond simply drinking the sweet fermented grape.
1) Wine-making, meet renewable energy production: a team of undergraduate engineering students from Oregon State University has developed an environmentally-friendly biodegradable polymer derived from biodiesel and wine-making byproducts that could replace polystyrene foam meat trays in supermarkets and be used in the manufacture of fire logs, furniture and other consumer goods.
2) An organic winery in Western Australia recently became the recipient of a $20,555 AUD grant from that state's Sustainable Energy Development Office, so they can build some walls from old bottles, put water in them to insulate the building, and start up a thermal imaging monitoring program for a cellar-door outlet to see how well it can keep bottles of white cool and bottles of red at a comfy room temperature.
3) Los Angeles-based designer Cliff Spencer was intrigued by a Napa Valley winery's offer of used oak that had been soaked in wine, so he picked some up to try it out as a furniture building material. Turns out that the wine-soaked wood had a beautiful natural stain; pinot noir makes for the darkest stain while the pinot grigio leaves the lightest. The pieces resulting from the noir-stained wood has a deep walnut tones without any of the walnut finish. Clothing and pesticide made from wine, after the jump...
4) Wine can even be used to make clothing, though bacteria in fermenting wine do all the heavy lifting. They convert the wine into a vinegar-like scum layer; the layers of this cellulose are then laid over one another, on an inflatable mannequin. Once the garment has the desired shape the dummy is deflated, leaving the clothing behind. It's not a perfect system just yet -- the garments have to be kept damp so they don't tear as easily -- but it sure is cool (in a weird sort of way).
5) Lastly, if you don't like to drink wine, at least it can be used as a good pesticide. Farmers in India say spraying liquor, instead of pesticides, is doubly beneficial: they do not get poisoned while spraying and the soil isn't contaminated. While skeptics wonder if the "organic treatment" of cocktails is good for the crop, local wine-shop owners are not complaining -- sales of cheap wine have more than doubled thanks to this new idea.