Natürliches Wundermaterial Kork

Natural magic material cork

When it comes to sustainable materials, most people might think of organic cotton or recycled plastic first. But there's one material that's often overlooked that offers a great option for eco-friendly products: cork. In this blog post we will look at why the miracle material cork is an excellent choice for shoe insoles and why it is great for anyone looking to minimize their environmental impact. We'll take a closer look at the sustainability, comfort and durability of cork and see why it's worth buying cork-soled shoes.

What makes cork such a great material?

Cork is a natural and sustainable material that is used in many areas due to its unique properties. Some of the reasons cork is a great material are:

    1. Sustainability: Cork is obtained from the bark of the cork oak tree and can grow back within 9-14 years after harvest. In contrast, many other materials used in footwear are derived from non-renewable resources.

    2. Ease: Cork is a very lightweight material, making it great for shoes, bags, and other items worn on the body.

    3. Thermal insulation: Cork has natural thermal insulation properties, which is why cork-soled shoes can also be worn in winter or in cold environments.

    4. Moisture regulation: The bark of the cork tree also has natural moisture-wicking properties, making it also an optimal choice for shoes worn in summer or in humid environments.

    5. Shock absorbant: Cork has natural cushioning properties, which is particularly important for its use as a shoe insole or sole. Cork adapts to the shape of the foot, which together with the cushioning results in a very comfortable fit.

    6. Longevity: Cork is resistant to moisture and mold, so it can be used in humid environments without any problems. It is also very durable and can be used for many years.

    7. Versatility: Cork can be made into many shapes and sizes, making it suitable for a wide range of applications, from shoes and bags to wall coverings and tiles.

All these properties make cork a special material and a great choice for eco-friendly products.

How environmentally friendly is cork cultivation?

Growing cork is pretty eco-friendly overall. First of all, cork is a bark that grows back after its harvest. That means it's ready to be harvested again and again, rather than being depleted like one-time resources like coal or oil. 

In addition, cork forests have a positive impact on the environment. They store large amounts of carbon, which helps mitigate the effects of climate change. They are also important habitats for many plant and animal species, including many endangered species. They also protect soil from erosion and degradation and regulate the local water cycle and protect water quality.

Another plus is that cork cultivation is often associated with traditional land use. This can help preserve cultural heritage and create economic opportunities for local communities.

Of course, there are still challenges, such as the environmental impact of transporting and processing cork, as well as the possibility of monoculture and the impact on biodiversity. But overall, growing cork is a relatively environmentally friendly option.

Wundermaterial Kork - gut als Weinflaschenverschluss und gut für die Verwendung als Schuhsohle

Photo of D A V I D S O N L U N A on Unsplash

Where is cork grown?

The largest cork plantations are mainly in Europe and North Africa. Some of the biggest producers are:

  1. Portugal: The country is the largest cork producer in the world and has a long tradition of cork cultivation.

  2. Spain: Spain is the second largest cork producer in the world and is also looking back at a long tradition in this industry.

  3. Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco: These countries in North Africa have large cork-growing areas and produce a significant proportion of the world's cork supply.

  4. Italy: has a large number of cork oaks and is also considered a major cork producer.

  5. France: has some important cultivation areas in the southwest of the country.

There are also smaller cork growing areas in other parts of the world, such as Brazil, China and the USA, but they produce less cork compared to the countries mentioned.

Cork cultivation as a pillar of local communities

The cultivation of cork is often linked to traditional land use and is therefore an important source of income for local communities in cork-growing areas. In particular, there are many small family businesses that are active in this industry.

How does the cork harvest work?

Cork is the dried bark of the cork oak tree. This is gently removed during harvest. The process usually begins when the tree is between 25 and 30 years old and is repeated every 9 to 14 years from then on, depending on the type of tree and customer requirements.

Here are the common steps of a cork harvest:

  1. Preparation: The tree is prepared by removing the lower branches to facilitate access to the bark.

  2. Removing the bark: The bark is gently removed by hand with a special tool, the so-called "cork remover". Only the top layer of the bark, the so-called "cortiça", which is used for cork production, is removed.

  3. Transport: The removed bark is packed into large bales and transported to the factory.

  4. Drying and sorting: The bark is dried and sorted.

  5. Processing: The bark is further processed in the factory to obtain cork. Here it is cut into smaller pieces and then heavily pressed under high temperatures.

  6. Cleaning and classification: The resulting pieces of cork are now cleaned and sorted according to size and quality.

Can cork be reused?

Cork is a material that can be reused in many ways. The most common methods are:

    1. Composting: Cork can be placed in the compost in small pieces where it can naturally decompose.

    2. Recycling und Upcycling: Cork can also be broken down into fine granular pieces and incorporated into a variety of products such as shoe soles, flooring, insulation and tiles, or made into bags, jewelry or wall coverings.

    3. Combustion: Cork can also be burned to generate energy. However, this is not the most environmentally friendly method as the emissions from cork burning are not entirely harmless.

We cheer for cork as an insole

As you can see, cork is a really awesome material for making shoe insoles - both in terms of the sustainability of the material and in terms of comfort and durability. In Fünve slides, the cork sole is combined with cool minimalist or colourful designs. In this way, we make double sure that you stay in a good mood all day long. 

Check out Fünve slides




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