Culture / Nature / The Future
The history of cork is inextricably linked with the Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Persians, and Phoenicians. All discovered the cork bark (Quercus Suber L) over 4000 years ago and used it to make a variety of objects including shoes, buoys, and fishing gear. Nowadays, it has transformed into a valuable and unique fashion and design item in addition to sports equipment, wine stoppers, flooring, and various other items.
Cork is a 100% natural, sustainable, and recyclable material. Cork oaks have a unique ability to absorb CO2 from the atmosphere. It is estimated that the cork oak forests can absorb up to 14 million tons of CO2 per year. Interestingly, many in the United States believe there is a shortage of cork simply because they are seeing the usage of plastic closures in wine bottles. The truth is the number of cork stoppers manufactured worldwide each year could cover a distance equal to circling the Earth 15 times. And interestingly and disturbing, a plastic closure emits ten times more CO2 than a cork stopper, and in the case of screw caps, emissions are 24 times higher.
The cork oak forest is one of the richest ecosystems in the world, which environmental NGO’s identify as one of the 35 global biodiversity hotspots among natural wonders such as the Andes, Borneo, Africa, and the Amazon. The trees can be found in southern Europe and northern Africa yet can grow in climates in some areas of the United States. Fifty percent of the worlds cork production comes from Portugal. The trees are not cut down to harvest the cork. The trees generate cork as a layer between the old growth bark and the living inner plant cells. It is a major component of the tree bark that protects the inner growth cells and sapwood from disease, insects, and damage. The harvesting process is equally interesting and is a sustainable commodity. A cork oak lives an amazingly long time, upwards of 200 years. However, the first harvest cannot be taken until the tree is 20-25 years old. This harvest is of poor grade and it is not until the cork has been harvested an additional 3 times, or when the tree is 50 years old that high-grade cork is available.
Our fascination with this amazing tree, our friendship with the Portuguese people, and our love of the beautiful products led us to the creation of Cork Tree Designs. Cork is a wonderful and natural alternative to leather. It is as durable as leather and it is silky soft. It is waterproof, stain-resistant, lightweight and beautiful. It is 100% sustainable! We offer handbags, jewelry, briefcases, umbrellas, hats, office products, yoga products, and various other fashion accessories made from cork.
Please take time to view the interesting and educational video while perusing around our site to learn more about this fascinating harvesting process passed down from generation to generation. We hope you enjoy the products you buy. Please feel welcome to use our contact form for your inquiries.
"Our Gift From Nature”
The Cork Tree Designs Team