10 Surprising Myths and Facts about Cork

facts about cork

Why We Love Cork

Earth Day is about more than planting trees, although there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. To us, it’s about recognizing and celebrating the flow of natural and human energy that generates the change of today and the creates the world of tomorrow. We see our mats as a physical representation of immense positive energy from all over the globe: the effort of workers in Pennsylvania tossing used tires into recycling bins, the dexterity of skilled laborers in Portugal harvesting cork without harming the tree, and our own determination to create yoga products that lead us toward a brighter future. As you read these myths and facts, we invite you to reflect on how the choices we make have the power to improve the world around us. Namaste.

1. Proven Sustainability

Depending on the growing region, cork trees are harvested every nine to twelve years. The trees are not cut down and can be expected to live for 200 years. This makes the industry a near-perfect example of renewable production which has existed in harmony with nature for thousands of years.  

2. Lasts for Ages

A wine amphora was found in Euphesus, from 1st century BC, sealed with a cork stopper. After over two millennia, the bottle still contained wine.  

3. Cork Shortage?

No. Based upon current estimates, there is enough cork to seal all wine bottles produced in the world for the next 100 years. The cork forests are now being more sustainably managed than ever before, and new planting is always ongoing.  

4. Full of Life

Cork Oak forests support one of the world’s highest levels of forest biodiversity, and are home to the critically endangered Iberian lynx, the Iberian imperial eagle, the Barbary deer, many species of rare birds as well as many fungi, ferns and other plants.  

5. Sacred Trees

Cork oak trees were once held sacred for their rare properties. In 1st century Greece, only priests were granted permission to chop them them down. Later, during the age of discovery, cork oaks were in such high demand by shipbuilders desiring buoyant, rot-resistant wood that some of the first conservation laws were set in place to protect the cork forests from ruin.  

6. Less Waste, Less Carbon

Most modern cork factories utilize cork dust from the processing plant to co-generate electricity. Larger scraps are reserved for use in agglomerated cork production. Virtually every piece of the wood harvested is utilized. Solid waste is minimal.  

7. Healing the Forest

Not only does harvesting not harm the trees, it helps them. Harvested trees normally live past 200 years. They are generally considered to be healthier than those trees that have never been harvested.  

8. Cork Gurus

Cork is only extracted from early May to late August. During this time thousands of skilled workers make a living off of carefully separating the cork from the tree with specialized hand tools – an art which has been refined over generations.  

9. Protective Armor

Cork in the wild acts as an impermeable shield, protecting the tree from drought and fire.  

10. Micro Discovery

The first “cell” discovered under the microscope was that of cork. Robert Hooke created drawings of cork’s microscopic structure in 1665. Cork is similar to bubble wrap at the micro scale, featuring tiny sealed chambers that Hooke likened to the “cells” that housed monks.

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