If you've ever wondered how cork came to be, don't worry. A 100% natural and organic material made from the bark of the cork oak tree (Quercus suber). Puzzle solved! “But wait, is cork just wood?” you might ask. Hmm, no. not really.
About the Cork Oak Tree (Quercus suber)
Cork is made from the cork oak (Quercus suber), which is native to southwestern Europe and northwestern Africa. It is one of the most common tree species in Portugal, widely distributed on the Alentejo coast and the Algarve. Cork is obtained from Cork Oak without harming the tree or affecting its normal growth. This is called uncorking, and it means removing the outer layer where all the "corky" properties are present.
Cork harvesting in Alentejo
After extraction, cork oak produces a new layer of bark with the same thickness and properties. This process can be repeated every nine years. Isn't that great? Nature knows well. Recently, a more mechanized bottle-opening process has been introduced to further ensure tree safety and prevent injuries. Cork is, therefore, one of the safest and greenest materials to use, especially when eco-conscious and eco-friendly fashion is a top priority.
The Composition of Cork
Cork is a unique natural plant tissue, a nest of microscopic cells surrounded by gas (the same air we breathe) and covered primarily with suberin and lignin. Suberin is a natural, highly hydrophobic wax, while lignin (a polymer found in a variety of land plants) plays a role in providing stiffness, impermeability, and elasticity. To date, technology has failed to catch up to this ingenious combination of properties or mimic it in the laboratory. But if you're still wondering how tree bark turns into everyday items like wallets, clutches, and briefcases, read on.
Bark from the Cork Oak tree
How Does Cork Turn Into Bags?
Not all bark is the same. Cork has some unique properties that allow it to be transformed and even relatively easily transformed, allowing for creative new uses. Cork, for example, is a very stretchy material that can be cut and pressed into cloth-like sheets that can be turned into cruelty-free fashion accessories.
Natural Cork colored fabrics from Portugal
Its flexible and elastic membrane allows it to return to its original shape after compression. This is a property known as "elastic spring back". It is this property that allows cork stoppers to adapt to unusually shaped bottlenecks. This property is also useful when protecting the device with a cork sleeve. Resilience is great, but impermeability is one of cork's most famous properties. You can take it out in a storm and the water will bounce off it leaving you unharmed. This is because cork membranes contain high levels of fatty compounds (such as suberin).
Natural Cork Bags, Wallets, and Purses
You don't have to go into the storm to prove it, but taking cork products out in the rain or snow can give you 100% confidence. Cork is not wood, but dead tissue. Yes, it is an inert substance. That is, it is tasteless and, most importantly, does not emit any odor. This is another quality that is highly valued in terms of hygiene and highly valued in the innovative and creative industry. It is also characterized by its durability, or its ability to maintain its original state. This makes them perfect for long-lasting, high-quality vegan accessories.
Eco-Friendly, Sustainable and Cruelty-Free
Cork is 100% reusable and 100% recyclable. It has already been proven that cork is a natural material and is a tree bark. It may be surprising. We have already discussed the qualities and unique properties of cork that make this transformation possible (and desirable). But what you may not know is that this amazing raw material is 100% reusable and 100% recyclable.
The Dehesa (Montado)
That's right. After processing (e.g. cork stoppers), the cork residue can be used. Even if there is a converted final product, it can be crushed. The resulting granules can be used in other products such as shoe soles, coating panels, and other insulation materials. The possibilities are endless and the recycling process never stops... good news for the planet