Helen Kaufmann | Condesa Drive
|Zelda at Bottles & Wood.
Photo Helen Kaufmann
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Del Mar resident Zelda Waxenberg is taking recycling to a whole new level—upcycling. In 2014, she and business partner Steve Cherry formed Bottles & Wood, a San Diego based company that converts glass, wood, and other locally sourced waste into high-quality glassware, serving ware, and jewelry primarily for the gift and hospitality industries. Bottles & Wood is an outgrowth of BottleHood, a business founded by Cherry in 2009 that focused on repurposing wine, beer, liquor, and soda bottles.
Upcycling is defined as “the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or for better environmental value.” That’s a concept that appeals to Waxenberg, who has spent a lifetime supporting environmental responsibility through philanthropy and a career in sustainable development. When Cherry approached her about forming Bottles & Wood, she saw it as an opportunity for local job creation and environmental education as well as for keeping things out of the landfill. “Having the ability to educate and make people more eco-conscious,” says Waxenberg. “That’s the part that excited me.”
As an ambassador for sustainability, Waxenberg enjoys supporting local nonprofits through the donation of gift baskets for special events. The baskets not only elicit monetary support for organizations such as the Del Mar Lifeguards, Community Connections, and the Del Mar Village Association, but also heighten environmental awareness. “People see how they can bring sustainability into their lives using products that are beautiful,” she says. Waxenberg also enjoys developing custom designs for tasting rooms, breweries, restaurants, and hotels. Clients are able to promote their brands on repurposed glass and wood and in turn show their customers the value of upcycling.
Bottles & Wood recently formed a partnership with the Urban Corps, a nonprofit established by the San Diego City Council that helps 18 to 25-year-olds turn their lives around by earning a GED and gaining work experience. The company offers six-month internships and has one employee from the Urban Corps. In addition, the Urban Corps supplies bottles from their recycling center in Old Town.
During the coming months Waxenberg plans to reach out to area public schools and encourage field trips to the Bottles & Wood facility in the Clairemont Mesa neighborhood. “We want to educate students about the importance of sustainability,” Waxenberg says.
The Bottles & Wood showroom and factory is located at 5039 Shawline Street, San Diego, and is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. For more information, visit their website at www.bottlesandwood.com