If you aren’t familiar with Birkenstocks, you might be wondering, “what does cork have to do with it?” and if you are familiar with Birkenstocks, you may be thinking “well, everything!”
We here at the Birkenstock Store are happy to share with you that cork has a lot to do with more than just comfortable footbeds! Cork is a completely natural, renewable, eco-friendly resource that has numerous uses, a few we can see right here in the store: shoes, footbeds, purses, and wallets, for example.
Most of the world’s cork is harvested in Portugal and Spain, using agricultural techniques that have been handed down for hundreds of years. The cork tree is harvested for its bark every 9-12 years, and has the incredible property of being able to fully replenish itself. When a cork tree reaches 25 years of age, then it can be harvested for the first time. However, the cork that comes from a tree’s first, second, or sometimes even third harvest is unsuitable for the use of wine bottles stoppers. The first harvest from a cork tree is usually cork that has an irregular structure, suitable for flooring, cork boards, or shoes. Cork is revered for it’s ability to be impermeable to water and gases which requires the cork to be structured evenly, which usually only happens after the second harvesting. And as any good wine lover will know, no good wine stopper will allow any gas or water to permeate their vino!
Cork is very light, impermeable to liquids and gases, elastic, compressible, an excellent insulator, and resistant to fire and abrasion. These amazing feats of the bark of a cork tree has made it possible for the 50million acre cork forests worldwide to supply all of our cork needs, which range far greater than just wine bottle stoppers. The common myth that cork is endangered is not true- many sources agree that the biggest threat to the cork forests is a decline in the need for corks. Keep the cork forests alive by buying more cork!
Did you know that your used cork is recyclable? Using wine corks as an example, when collected, they are ground down and composited to make new cork products. Nowadays cork is being used for flooring, automobile interiors, heat shields, yoga blocks, and surfboard traction, to name a few. We at Baker’s Birkenstock can collect your old wine corks and send them to ReCork, a company that recycles old cork into new things. What a sustainable way to give back to the cork tree that has kept your feet happy, or your wine savory.