What is Cork?
So what is cork and its relation with the environment?
The whole world starts to wake up to a new energy paradigm because of all the serious environmental problems that the planet has undergone in recent times. The Governments of the countries worldwide, as well as the Boards of large Institutions are beginning to realize that if the ecological path humanity is taking does not become stronger and more sustainable, all humanity will suffer disastrous consequences in terms of increased pollution and natural disasters.
No doubt that the solution to a problem starts in the first place by analysing it. Part of the global ecological problems is related to the misuse of materials. In most of the objects we use in our day-to-day are used non-recyclable materials that produce a very strong environmental impact. There are numerous pollutant materials that damage the environment, including the best known of all: the plastic. Analysing the problem and looking closely around us, we find that many of the objects we buy and use could be ecological friendly and use sustainable materials, and the end result would in no way be harmful, rather the contrary. Nowadays the supply of environmentally friendly materials is increasing due to the improving awareness of designers and brands in general. By designing and producing such objects, they expand the message that it is possible to make great products with ecological materials, such as cork. So if you ask what is cork, and if you don´t know anything about it, besides it is the best stopper for wines, you are going to have a surprise about this excellent and ecological raw material.
So, what is Cork ?
Cork is world-famous since ancient times by its use in the manufacture of wine stoppers. Today, thanks to the paradigm shift described above, more and more designers worldwide are getting curious about the potential of this type of raw material. You can find the appearance of cork projects from all around the world in the top sites and blogs related to global ecology and design. These sites include Dezzen the Inhabitat, the Treehuger, the Mocoloco, Yanko Design, Design Milk and Design Boom. It is gratifying to see that cork is being used in so many different objects from the shoe soles and umbrellas to chairs and washbasins. The applications are numerous, and if we just imagine a little, we realize that it is very easy to replace items made of materials that are harmful to the environment, by using materials with recycling capacities. And cork is just one example among many. It is also important here to bring down the myth that cork is not an environmentally friendly material as many people still think, because according to them it is necessary to damage or even chop the cork oak tree in order to extract it. This is a completely wrong and unfounded statement. Every nine years cork is taken from the skin that is coating the central trunk of the tree and this process is completely harmless. Of course the tree remains in good health following the extraction of cork.
So let´s stop asking what is cork, and with this question let´s start giving answers to a lot of ecological problems that surround us.
Having said that we come to the conclusion that cork is undoubtedly an environmentally sustainable material because its renewal is easily accomplished by Nature. Another factor by which we attach great importance to cork is because of its mother tree, the cork oak, which belongs to the entire Mediterranean region native flora. In a world where deforestation is increasing, it is certainly a good way to reverse this by proceeding to the purchase of cork products, so that all the governmental and non-governmental organizations have financial capital for the planting of this indigenous tree. There are a number of habitats that are entirely dependent on this tree and on the whole culture around it. This is very evident especially in countries such as Portugal, Spain, France and Italy. The Iberian Lynx is one example of this dependence. There are only about 225 Iberian lynx in the wild in the Iberian Peninsula.