A short story from the founder, Ray DelMuro
In late fall 2005, I was doing everything I thought I was supposed to. I had graduated from college a few years before, and was working as a manufacturing engineer for an aerospace company in Southern California. Then at some point I had a crazy thought: What if I took that money I was saving and went on a trip around the world - shake the normal routine up a bit, well, a lotta bit? I crunched some numbers then I circled a date on the calendar. In February 2006, I was on my way. I had contacted everyone I could think of about meeting up somewhere and penciled a rough plan of where I was going to go. I was excited and really didn’t know what to expect.
Almost exactly a year later, I was back. I had hit 20 countries and 39 cities. What an amazing ride! That tour was, by far, one of the best decisions I had ever made. Looking back, at the core I still think I'm the same person, it’s just now I see things a little differently. Everywhere I visited I couldn’t help but to compare the way people went on about their lives to the way I approached my own. Sometimes my views were validated and, in other cases, some adjustment was definitely in order. As I traveled through various parts of the world, one of my thoughts I enjoyed the most was trying to functionally use the distinction between a tourist and a traveler. The way I understand it, tourists try to bend each new place to fit their views and expectations. Travelers, on the other hand, try to appreciate each place for how it’s different and learn from it; interacting with an air of mutual benefit towards people and things. As time has passed, this seems like a larger theme that extends beyond traveling.
In early 2008, having been back in the States for a year, I received a small bottle-cutting kit in the mail that I had ordered. The kit contained a small scoring jig and a candle to separate the bottle, along with some sand paper to smooth the sharp edges. The first glass took me hours to complete to my liking, and I knew there had to be a more efficient way to make them. It seemed like an engineering challenge at first, but now it has turned into an idea for a business that keeps growing. Every day, the product seems to achieve added flavor. People call and write to tell me about why one of the glasses is their favorite, the consistent response they get at their hotel or restaurant, or how excited they were to give/get a set as a gift.
All of the bottles we transform are collected by businesses and individuals in our local area. We have truly been embraced as a value added part of our community and in 2010 Refresh Glass was selected as the Recycling Small Business of the Year for our State by the Arizona Recycling Coalition. We want everyone who we have encountered to know that when we hit our 10 million repurposed bottles per year goal that you should absolutely take credit for your support and the part you played. You tell our story with enthusiasm and show your friends. We couldn’t pull this off without you!
— Ray DelMuro
Refresh Glass, LLC
Refresh Glass began as an effort to combine our passions for art and engineering with a great cause. Our mission is to rally government, businesses, charities and consumers around the effort of collecting and converting empty wine bottles into practical artwork. The collaboration results in thousands of bottles per week diverted from the waste stream. The results are products that have a unique story to each: where was the bottle made, varietal contained, vintage, cost, where was it consumed, and what was the occasion? It is fun to think about. Each glass also has variable attributes in terms of specific color, diameter, punt size, thickness and weight. So whether you get 2 glasses or 2,000, each grouping is different. Engineering is fit, form, and function…utility, and our glasses feel great in your hands and because of the variety we hope you find a personal favorite. Art, to us, has to do with creating a feeling, an animated response; each of our glass products has its own story, history, and simple elegance. If it is up to us, we want to be a differentiated source of flavor in others lives that takes the place of what was once vanilla. Helping the environment, helping business generate revenue, and increasing the appeal of their brands, adding to a home, and having fun while we’re at it!
Our green goal is to reclaim and repurpose 10 million bottles total, and then ramp up to processing over 1 million bottles a year. We have spent the last few years working closely with the recycling community and public industry to create multifaceted solutions for everyone along our supply chain, all the way from the establishments who help us collect empties to the end user. We believe that our products will be around for as long as there are bottles enjoyed. Our hope is that you concurrently enjoy the glass function and aesthetic while also taking pride in the part you play, because we would repurpose 0 bottles without you!
Wholesale & Bulk
Gift retailers, big box sellers, catalogs and others can generate revenue through retail sales. People who love wine seem to love our products. Bulk users at restaurants, hotels and other venues can grab the attention of their target audiences by build brand uniqueness, add to their aesthetic, earning animated response from wine enthusiasts, art lovers and the environmentally conscious.