Last year I shared the eco credentials of bamboo with you all, and today I wanted to zero in on another eco friendly material choice – cork! There’s more to cork than just wine bottle stoppers, I promise!
What’s the eco-deal with cork?
Cork is one of the most sustainable materials imaginable as it comes from a renewable source and is also fully recyclable. It is harvested by removing the bark of cork oaks, which are unharmed in the process, and the same tree can be harvested every 9 years for up to 300 years. That’s a pretty renewable source in my books!
Even better than that is the fact that cork oaks retain up to 30% more CO2 than other trees and are excellent at stopping soil erosion and desertification, making the growing and harvesting of cork an overall highly sustainable process.
Cork is also processed without the need for chemicals as it is generally air dried then boiled and steamed at high temperatures and pressure to create cork blocks.
Are there any downsides?
For us here in Australia the only real downside of cork is that the cork oaks are native to the Mediterranean region and therefore it does come with some not insignificant travel miles before arriving on our soil. Personally I believe that the good eco credentials of cork far outweigh that though!
Where is it used?
Cork is an incredibly versatile material, although the full extent of what it can be used for is still emerging on the market. Traditionally it has been used for things like bottle closures, flooring and insulation as it is waterproof, fire-resistant and flame retardant.
In more recent years its use as an alternative to leather has emerged, and it has proved to be a durable, scratch-resilient, stain-resistant, hypoallergenic material. It’s also a beautiful material that takes well to natural dyes, meaning it can be produced in a whole host of gorgeous colours. Cork handbags, shoes, wallets and furniture is starting to appear on the market, and I have no doubt we’ll see plenty more options in coming years as well! For now, a good place to start is Cork Leather who are an Australian based company selling cork products from Portgual. I’d love to hear of any cork products you find as well!