The idea of making empty glass bottles into glasses is far from new. Glass cutting tools to make them have been available to the general public for decades. But those tools are notoriously difficult to use, and the home-brewed methods like using a string and fire are dangerous and still have a high rate of failure.
Inventor Patrick Lehoux introduced the world to a far easier and more attractive way to recycle all of those empty glass bottles. The Kinkajou is named after a South American mammal with large teeth. The device wraps around the bottle and clamps down, then a blade is put against the glass with the flip of a small lever.
You then hold the Kinkajou and the bottle, and turn the bottle slowly in a complete circle. When the circle is complete, the Kinkajou comes off and two rubber rings are placed on either side of the score line. You pour very hot water over the score line and then run cold water over the line, which causes the top to simply pop off.
After this process, you’re left with a bottom that is perfect for a drinking glass or a vase and a top that is just the right size for a wine glass. A piece of sandpaper and a glass finishing tool remove the sharp edges to make the cut glass safe.
Although the most intuitive use for the cut bottle would be to use the bottom as a vessel, Kinkajou also offers plastic bottle top stems that turn the tops of the cut bottles into wine glasses. This allows the entire bottle to be reused, though the environmental impact of using plastic for the wine glass base arguably outweighs the environmental benefit of reusing the glass bottle.
The basic Kinkajou kit will set you back $50, which might be a small investment if you’re the type of person who tends to have a lot of empty bottles in the house at all times. It’s also a great tool for the dedicated upcycler who doesn’t want to spend a ton of money on brand new glassware.