5 Reasons Why You Should Care About Cork
For years, cork has simply been the final hurdle between thirsty consumer and their Shiraz. However, in an age where we are becoming increasingly aware of the materials we consume, and when eco is no longer a dirty word, cork is making a comeback! And we're here to get you excited about it.
If it's not already clear...We. Love. Cork.
Can you blame us? Not only is cork aesthetically pleasing, it is a sustainable, recyclable, biodegradable, naturally occurring, cheap, light (the list goes on) alternative to many man-made, crude-oil-derived, land-filling materials.
Five reasons to love cork:
1. Cork forests protect against erosion
Globally there is 2.7 million hectares of cork forests. These forests are solely in Mediterranean countries such as Portugal. Without the vast forest landscapes, the land would exposed to significant erosion, resulting in substantial loss of biodiversity.
2. Cork forests are home to over 200 animal, and 135 plant species
Cork forests are home to a diverse range of flora and fauna. Importantly, much of this plant and animal life are endangered, including the Iberian lynx, the Iberian imperial eagle, and the barbary deer. Estimates from the WWF suggest there are fewer than 150 adult Iberian lynx' alive today. Without cork forests, there would be no home for these rare and endangered species.
3. Cork is a barrier to fire
Cork has incredibly weak combustion properties. In other words, cork does not burn well. This means it can act as a natural fire retardant, and therefore a valuable barrier against dangerous bushfires. Interestingly, when cork does catch fire, it doesn't produce any toxic gases or smoke, resulting in fewer damaging gases being released into our atmosphere.
4. Cork forests reduce carbon dioxide levels
Cork forests have been estimated to retain 14 million tonnes of carbon dioxide every year. In Portugal alone, cork forests reduce carbon dioxide by 5%. This represents a significant reduction in global greenhouse gases.
When cork trees are stripped of their bark, their ability to absorb carbon dioxide increases five times!
5. The cork industry provides the best paid, most sustainable agricultural activity in the world
Due to the many applications for cork, the sustainable manner in which it is farmed and the skill required to safely remove the bark; harvesting cork is a well-paid, sustainable profession. According to the WWF (again) the cork industry is the best of its kind. Hard to argue with that.
Isn't cork endangered?
The short answer is no.
The long answer is, well, kind of... but not for the reasons you might think.
The production of cork is unique as it does not require trees to be cut down. Cork is created by simply removing the bark from cork trees. That's it. No damage to the trees. Furthermore each tree lives to be roughly 200 years old. Not only has the bark-removal process been suggested to improve the lifespan of cork trees (like pruning a rose bush), this process improves the cork tree's ability to convert carbon dioxide!
According to the WWF, the only danger that currently threatens the cork tree's survival is the lack of demand for cork products. Cork forests may disappear if long term demand for cork cannot be sustained which may result in increased poverty in Mediterranean countries, more forest fires, loss of biodiversity, and faster desertification. Given the market for wine caps is being taken over by synthetic substitutes, alternative uses for cork must be found to sustain our valuable cork forests.
One of the Sure Project goals is to help keep the demand for cork alive with beautifully designed cork rollers.