Friday, 22 January 2016

Dolly loves cork... She tempting me to buy a new bag.

During our drive from Porto Covo on the west coast, the country side just opened up. Portugal is more than just beaches and beautiful coast line. Wondering what I could share with you, it dawned on me as we drove through an area with pockets of cork oak trees, here and there. It had to be the cork industry. Portugal are the world leaders in cork. It always amuses me the way the tree stands there with the bottom part of the bark removed, as if someone has taken off its trousers. Its branches and upper half left with the jacket on... my imaginations running wild again.

True to form and because of my limited knowledge I had a look at good old Wikipedia and was pleasantly surprised. Realising that I actually knew quite a lot already, see how we can doubt ourselves, at times and without cause. However they did help me out with facts and figure, for instance I didn't know that there are about 2,200,000 hectares of cork forest worldwide; 34% in Portugal and 27% in Spain. Annual production is about 200,000 tons; 49.6% from Portugal, 30.5% from Spain, 5.8% from Morocco 4.9% from Algeria, 3.5% from Tunisia, 3.1% Italy, and 2.6% from France.

The trees have 25 years of growth before they are harvested, this is carried out by the cutting and stripping of the bark/cork from the trunk. This occurs every nine years and you will often see trees marked with a number, painted on the trunk. I was told this indicates the years since the previous harvest. It makes sense, if you have a forest of trees, how else would you remember which was which. Apparently the first two harvests generally produce a lower quality cork. So it's quite a long time before you can boast of a good quality, I guess. The trees live for about 300 years, so defiantly a business to be past down the family line. Can you imagine planting a tree and never seeing the fruits of you labour, I'm not that patient.
The good thing about the cork industry is that its considered environmentally friendly and sustainable, the tree isn't cut down to obtain cork it's only the bark thats removed. The tree continues to live and grow and we all know the benefits of forests on the environment. Way to go Portugal... you have something right.

 Apparently the wine stopper made from cork is the most environmentally friendly in comparison to the alternatives. So when people try to convince you otherwise, you have the facts .
Wikipedia explained that ("Analysis of the life cycle of Cork, Aluminum and Plastic Wine Closures"), was developed by PricewaterhouseCoopers, according to ISO 14040.Results concluded that, concerning the emission of greenhouse gases, each plastic stopper released 10 times more CO2, whilst an aluminium stopper releases 26 times more CO2 than does a cork stopper.

Myself I'm not that interested in bottle stoppers but I do love some of the cork products that we find here in Portugal. I've seen some amazing craft work using cork.  I'm now on the look for a handbag that catches my eye and ticks all the boxes with regards to its practicality, I even seen stylish shoes but not sure about that.

Once the cork is harvested it is stacked  to dry in readiness for the next process and ultimately the end result.

These products were seen in a local shop. I must say I've seen an awful lot better.
 I shall continue my search for my idea handbag.


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