I would like to transport you to sunny dry Portugal. That is where the evergreen cork oaks grow, and constitute 28 percent of their forest. Portugal and Spain are two major producers of this natural material. It is endemic to Southwest Europe and northwest Africa. If we think about it, cork is used a lot: wine stoppers, that allow wine to exchange with oxygen for proper aging, cork tile floors, shoe soles and bottoms, fishing rod handles, badminton birdies, office note board… Baseball ball has a cork center, that is called a “pill”. Granulated cork is added to concrete for thermal insulation and reduced weight.
Cork oaks live for 200-300 years. These trees are so important, they can not be legally cut down, unless it is an old dead tree. The first harvest is when the tree is about 25 years old, then in another 9-12 years the bark is harvested again. A tree can be harvested a dozen times in its lifetime. The harvesting of the cork does not harm the tree, the new layer of cork grows back, the tree keeps standing. All the bark is harvested manually.
The harvested bark spends 6 month drying. Then it is boiled and steamed to increase elasticity.
Cork natural qualities
Cork is naturally elastic due to its cell like structure, which allows it to be made into “fabric”. It is resilient and highly impermeable. Scratch resistant and durable, but soft and holds its shape well. It even floats because more then 50 % of its volume is air:-) The cork is also waterproof and stain resistant. If you love leather, you are going to love cork. And what not to love? It is also vegan and completely chemical free.
A new cork purse?
You know how Yulia’s is all about natural and sustainable, so I am inviting you to research the new area of cork fashion. Get a new cork purse or a backpack. I have one and it is surreal! It feels very natural, looks very unique, and has this very soft feel that is different from anything else, it radiates this pure plant based energy.
It cleans easily with a little soap and water, looking brand new again. My friend has been using couple of her cork purses for two years, and they still look like new.
Some top famous designer brands are starting to feature cork as shoe soles or purses. Imagine cork hats, umbrellas, shoes…
Other unusual uses from horse shoes to rocket science
Cork coating of an extra light aluminum racing horse shoe. In Poland they replaced some of subway train material with cork, reducing the train weight by 18 tons and ultimately saved on energy. Surfboards from cork are stylish, lightweight and buoyant.
Cork can withstand high temperatures, so it can be used in the ovens as baking dish covers. It is also resistant to tears, no wonder cork is even used in rocket building.
Next time you drink a bottle of wine, save and reuse that cork. Also look at it with your new eyes:-) There are recycling programs in US, that will accept cork stoppers by mail, and if you are mailing a lot (like 200 of them), they will pay for shipping. Or just grind them up and throw them in your garden for mulch that will help retain moisture.
Where to get it
If you are looking to buy a cork leather accessory creation, check out the website of my friends. They are passionate about this new futuristic eco friendly renewable resource and want to make it available here in the US. Right now they have a contest where they are giving away free cork purses and things, and later you will be able to preorder your piece. All the info is on their website. www.corkcentric.com