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Bottle Art

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Entrepreneurs find an environmentally friendly

and attractive use for discarded bottles

By Cecilia Buckner

Two San Diego entrepreneurs are making a living off your trash. Leslie Tiano, an artist by trade, and business partner, Steve Cherry, took an idea that first emerged in the ’70s — with the marketing of crude bottle cutting kits — and turned it into a unique business that benefits the local environment.
Bottlehood creates products out of empty bottles, many of which are collected from North Park restaurants, including Cantina Mayahuel and Urban Solace. Tumblers, juice glasses and vases are created from wine, beer, liquor and soda bottles.
“You drink a bottle of wine tonight at Urban Solace, we pick it up Monday morning in the trash, cut it into a tumbler and put it on the shelf at Pigment on Tuesday . . .   It’s that kind of momentum,” Cherry said.  “We’re not importing glass from France.”
Customers like that the bottles come from San Diego, and that the end product sold here is made by locals, he said.
Individuals also bring their empty bottles to Bottlehood.  According to Tiano, many of them have no CRV value and would otherwise be thrown away.
City records show that about 5 million tons of waste is dumped in the region’s landfills each year.
Jose Ysea, public information officer for the city’s Environmental Services Department, said that because of recent recycling mandates and the state of the economy, people are throwing less away, but the region is running out of space. Expert reports elicited by the city project that the county’s landfills will be full within the next decade.
Bottlehood does not just relieve some of that landfill space, it also gives these bottles a second life, Tiano said.
Tiano and Cherry started Bottlehood in October of last year. They cut, grind and smooth the bottles they collect into tumblers and votives and a variety of other items that are sold to restaurants and other businesses. Their bottles are sold at about 30 retailers around the county and are available online and at local festivals and farmers markets.
Alex Santoso of Neatorama.com, a retail Website that sells Bottlehood products, says sales are strong. “They are eye catching,” he said. “Interesting — something you would never think of.”
“It’s the graphics that usually pull it, or they have some kind of sentiment toward the bottle,” said Tiano. “We’ll have people that buy a set because it’s what they drink.
The real attraction though, is the eco-friendly nature of the product, she said.  Cherry, on the other hand said it’s the products’ cool factor that attracts everyone. “When people see them, they just say they are cool,” he said.
Cherry’s goal is to open up Bottlehood operations worldwide.
For more information on Tiano and Cherry’s Bottlehood products, visit Bottlehood.com, call (619) 599-8855 or e-mail to: info@bottlehood.com.

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