We have been using cork as a material for centuries. It is nothing new. Some of the oldest remnants of cork were found in Egypt and Greece. They loved the stuff, putting it to good use as flooring, flotation devices, bobbers for fishing nets, sandal bottoms, and of course bottle stoppers. With the sustainability movement in full swing, cork material is dominating! At Livity, we can’t get enough of it in our line of cork products!
Here are 5 reasons to switch to cork:
1. All Natural
Cork grows on the Cork Oak Tree (Quercus suber). This is a special type of evergreen that grows naturally in humid climates. Due to extreme weather patterns, this oak evolved bark like a skin. This outer layer is a protection mechanism for wildfires. When flames take over, the cork bark acts as a barrier. It can burn with little harm to the trees internal body.
These trees live anywhere from 200-300 years old. Shedding this outer bark is part of the trees’ natural aging process. This thick outer layer is an all natural multi-use material, that can be harvested 9-12x during a trees life. We harvest the cork bark for our line of plastic free products.
Performing magic is suberin, a waxy substance inside the walls of cork. It forms a barrier against invading microbes. It also is a bandaid, protecting tree wounds during healing. Drought seasons are no sweat. Suberin in the cork skin, helps the tree retain moisture.
This is why cork yoga gear is revolutionary. With COVID-19, we now know why a clean yoga practice is paramount to health. Suberin takes the guesswork out of sanitation, by repelling microscopic invasions. Plus the waxiness offers superior grip. That means no butter hands with cork products.
The skin of a Cork Oak Tree aka the periderm, is an air filled connective tissue. As the tree ages the older cells get pushed to the outer layers and eventually get sloughed off. This is how it gets its irregular, honeycomb-like structure.
Cork material provides added cushion in yoga mats. Yogi wrists and ankles, do a lot of work. So they need some loving. They get that with this spongy bark. The air pockets allow it to form to the shape of the hand.
4. Eco Friendly
Cork trees require a very special harvesting. Especially ones in Portugal, where a permit is required to harvest the bark. The trees have to be handled in a delicate fashion. The cork is cut off by a highly skilled harvester using an ax. This process is done without heavy machinery to ensure there is no harm done to the cork oak. No trees are killed in the making of cork products. In fact, it is better for the environment they remain alive. A harvested cork oak tree sequesters 5x more carbon versus one that is not. This greatly reduces greenhouse gases.
The cork oak forests supports one of the worlds highest range of biodiversity, next to the Amazon Rainforest. These forests are home to the critically endangered Iberian Lynx. This little spotted feline, is crucial for maintaining balance in the food chain. Its food of choice is bunnies. Rabbit populations are no match for this sassy cat.
5. Helping the Global Economy
These forests expand across the Mediterranean. Tree maintenance and harvesting, feeds thousands of families in Europe and Africa. Portugal alone makes up 50% of global cork production. Since cork is a 100% renewable and biodegradable material, it is a gift that keeps giving. It can be composted, or cut down and repurposed into more cork products.