The Happy Hoarder: Put a cork in it


Keep your friends close, and your corks closer. Photo: Sam Howzit via Flickr.

In anxious anticipation of the coming apocalypse, The Happy Hoarder is constantly on the look out for alternative forms of currency, should it come to that.

What can I use? Can I trade it? How can I get my hungry little mitts on it? These are the questions that keep the Happy Hoarder up at night.

Now while you might think that as a hoarder I’d like to keep all my hoarding ideas to myself, nothing could be further from the truth. The Happy Hoarder is happy, after all, and happiness comes from sharing. Besides, most of you don’t live near me and won’t be horning in on my territory.  And anyway, beyond feeding my own family in the permanent downturn, I aim to help keep social order.

I’m just that happy.

So, on to this week’s hoarding tip: Corks.

Poppin’ a cork for the apocalypse

If you drink as much wine as The Happy Hoarder, you’re bound to have a pretty consistent relationship to the humble cork.

Even though many wine corks are now often made from so-called “alternative materials,” aka synthetic wine closures, you might as well hoard those, too, since you may need to seal any number of different bottles in the post-collapse universe, and by then beggars won’t be choosers.

But the real money is on real cork because by and large they seem to go back into a bottle a little easier, unlike their synthetic step-siblings, which want to worm their way out at the slightest provocation. And natural ones have more re-use/ and recyle options.

But why should you value corks?

Cork facts

The website Cork Forest, which promotes bio-sustainability in cork production, and recycles cork by regions, says these nice facts about corks:

  • Cork is a natural, renewable, recyclable and biodegradable material that is obtained through an environmentally friendly harvesting process.
  • Trees are not cut down to harvest cork, rather the bark is hand harvested every nine years. Cork oak trees can live up to 200 years.
  • The cork forests extend over 6 million acres across Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia.
  • Containing one of the world’s highest levels of forest biodiversity, this region supports ecosystem services including air quality, climate (e.g. CO2 sequestration), and prevention of erosion.
  • Screw caps and plastic closures are not made from sustainable products, are not recycled in the US and are not biodegradable.
  • Cork oak trees store carbon in order to regenerate their bark, and a harvested cork oak tree absorbs up to five times more than one that is not.

Perhaps hoarding corks isn’t within their mission. Then again, there’s nothing on their site about peak oil or economic crisis, either.

But if you’re the only cork game in town after TSHTF, you could be a local cork baron. Even if you just hoard a drawer full, corks will be a handy supply to have on hand.

Cork storage

So don’t just toss those corks out in the midst of your drunken splendor. Find a nice place to store them. If you’re interested, here’s a list of “proper” cork storage techniques for natural cork.

  • Store in a cool dry place. Optimal conditions are 55 to 70F & 55-75% humidity.
  • Keep sealed in plastic bags and treated with SO2.
  • Do not store directly on the floor or on floors with high irradiation.
  • Avoid presence of xylophagous coleptera and other types of parasites in storage area.
  • Corks left over from the corking machine should be returned to plastic bags and resealed.
  • Store no more than six months without reconditioning.

Now those tips might be all well and good for fancy-dancy types. But you can just use a plastic bin, too.

As for the Happy Hoarder, I toss mine in a drawer figuring that I’ll take my chances on cork safety when I find myself in the real-life version of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road.

Giving new life to cork

At that point hopefully I’ll be able to seal and reseal stuff that I ferment, or even water that I haul up from the ration center. Maybe I put beans in a bottle and cork it to keep the air out. Maybe I use corks to get matches or paper or seeds at some swap lot. Maybe I go into bulletin board production. Whatever their next incarnation, I’m betting that there’s a use for all those corks and I’m hoarding them just in case, natural and fake.

As the website ReCork states:

Recycled wine corks can find a new life as shoe components, fishing rod handles, bulletin boards, place mats, flooring tiles, building insulation, gaskets, packaging materials, under playground equipment, and even as a soil amendment in compost.

Hoard enough corks and you might just have post-collapse industry. You’ll be a job-creating local hero. So start hoarding corks now.

Until next time, friends, stay bubbly by going cork high and bottle deep!

–The Happy Hoarder, Transition Voice

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  1. Diane Blust says

    Love it! I’ve been hoarding corks for years – may have enough to build an ark one of these days. I use them to cork my home-made vinegar when giving it to friends (in reused wine bottles, of course). Can use them to shield knife points in the picnic basket. Perhaps my best use is to plug the outlet hole in my rain barrel diverters over the the winter. Haven’t tried this one yet, but you can place them neatly into your indoor plant pots to form a natural and inventive mulch – cuts down on watering and perhaps bugs!

  2. says

    I, too have saved corks for years. I wanted to drill a small hole down the center with a little Dremel tool, and string them, like a beaded curtain. Looks great in a room with natural wood furniture and lots of greenery.

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