Recycling is so 90s. The 21st century is all about upcycling.
So why recycle your beer and wine bottles when you can turn them into something useful? Something like... reusable glasses, vases, or even light fixtures?
That was Patrick Lehoux's thinking, anyway. Lehoux launched a Kickstarter campaign for his Kinkajou bottle cutter back in 2012 after he saw a video of a guy cutting a bottle using acetone, string, and a candle, and became convinced there had to be a better way. Unimpressed by the bottle cutters already on the market, he decided to make his own, building the first prototype out of legos and wood. With a rough concept in hand, he then turned to Kickstarter to make it a reality.
The Kinkajou (named after a furry South American mammal with oversized teeth) is really quite simple: It's an adjustable clamp armed with wheels and a small blade. You just tighten it around a bottle, rotate it to score the glass, and release. As with all glass cutting, you don't actually cut all the way through the glass. A tiny groove is more than enough.
To finish things off, you run your bottle under alternating hot and cold water, which will quickly separate the two halves—almost like magic. Then all you need to do is sand down the glass with the included silicon carbide sandpaper—you know, so you don't cut yourself when you go to take a drink. (Seriously, this step is really important.)
The Kinkajou was so successful that Lehoux was able to quit a lucrative engineering job to work on the product full time. But he didn't stop there. He wanted to figure out a way to reuse the glass bottle tops, so he launched a second Kickstarter campaign and raised another $75,000 for the Jabiru, a universal fit stem and base that can turn bottle tops into surprisingly elegant wine and cocktail glasses.
But the thing about upcycling is, there's always another project on the horizon. This spring, Lehoux launched a third Kickstarter for yet another bottle-related tool. This time, he created the Firefly LED Pendant Light Kit, raising over $20,000. The kit allows you to turn your colorful bottle tops into hanging light fixtures.
The base Kinkajou kit goes for $50 on Lehoux's site. If you also want to get the Jabiru, he sells a pack of six for $25. And if you want to create some glass light fixtures, you can buy the Firefly kit to convert them at $45 a pop.
Amazingly, Patrick Lehoux did all of this in just a year and a half from his home in Sudbury, Canada. At the rate he's going, we won't be surprised if he launches a fourth bottle-related Kickstarter sometime soon.
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