While it is clear that cork is incredibly useful in some aspects of our lives it is often overlooked due to the seemingly mundane tasks that it performs. While best known for it's use as a wine bottle stopper it's incredible properties make it useful for so much more!
Cork has been valued and used for thousands of years and the extraction of the material is a noble and equally ancient tradition. Some trees are harvested and maintained by the same family for generations. This is simply incredible in our eyes. Not only is cork incredibly useful do to it's amazing properties (elasticity, impermeability, buoyancy) it is also one of the most environmentally friendly materials available. A combination that makes it a vastly underrated material.
While most materials come with an environmental “trade-off”, the use of cork is a net positive for the environment.
Impressive as a wine bottle stopper but good for so much more
As the world is waking up to the need for eco-friendly alternatives, cork is beginning to make a resurgence. It's not going to reach the heights that we'd like it to without proper education though. In order to overcome the misinformation that is put out by the plastic bottle stopper industry we must spread awareness about it's numerous benefits.
Our mission is to not only make great looking cork wallets and bags but to educate and inform
The Reasons That Cork Is So Eco-Friendly
The main reason that cork and it's harvest is considered green is because the process doesn’t harm the tree itself or the habitat during harvest. In fact, the extractors of cork do everything that they can to protect the tree as they intend to harvest ait gain after a set period of time.
"You need to be very skilled so that you can be sensitive with the axe," says Daniel Pereira, who at 26 is one of the younger harvesters. "Some of these trees are more than 100 years old. I don't want to be the one to damage them"
Photo from flickr btbuonvino
And why would he – The miracle of the Cork Oak is that it's a sustainable resource. Like a fruit tree, the cork oak regrows its product.
The second aspect of cork extraction that makes it incredibly eco-friendly is that the bark is harvested by hand. The tools have changed little over the centuries and the harvesting is still done by highly trained (and well paid) people with a basic but special axe. One made to not only create a clean and safe cut but also to pull and strip the bark.
The Environmental Impact
The importance of these trees to local and national income has meant that many countries have put protection in place for the Cork Oak. In Portugal it is illegal to cut down an oak, alive or dead, without the proper permission.
This approach has meant that large areas of southern Portugal and Spain have been protected from desertification, which is a huge problem in similar areas. Although protected, without demand for cork these laws are often ignored as farmers must put food on their table. The trees are replaced with various different crops or livestock and the land eventually deteriorates.
The Most Famous Use Of Cork
The most known use of cork is wine and champagne stoppers. There have been countless studies and attempts from bottling companies to try and find an alternative better than cork but one has not been found yet. Although they'd like to tell you that they're plastic stopper is superior!
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Not only is cork the most suitable wine and champagne stopper - when it is compared to a range of other options it lets out the least amount of CO2! Making it the most eco-friendly stopper as well.
A Wide Variety Of Uses Of The Material
While the use of cork in a wine bottle might be the most known use of the material, this certainly isn’t it's limit. It can be found in a wide range of products, including: shoes, woodwind instruments, wall tiles, baseballs and can even be mixed into concrete to provide it with a lower thermal conductivity and better energy absorption.
This is only the beginning - Cork has been used in a wide range of developmental programs. It has been shown to be effectively used for bricks by a Portuguese design company and NASA has used cork as part of a spacecraft heat shield. From climate control to replacing the interiors of vehicles that are traditionally made of wood or aluminum, to cork purses and wallets there really is no end to the uses of cork.
Seemingly Endless Possibilities
Cork is ready for innovation. In a world that is starting to properly focus on environmental issues, this is a crucial time to start to think about how and what it can be used for.
visit www.corature.com for more info