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The non-profit association Vesti la natura provides several free guides specially created to promote the use of cruelty free materials among consumers and entrepreneurs.

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Please note:: nuove provisions on the use of the terms "leather", "skin" and "fur" and those derived from them or their synonyms. This decree contains provisions relating to the definition and use of the terms "leather", "leather", "full grain leather", "coated leather", "coated leather", "fur" and "regenerated leather fibers" and to the labeling and marking of the materials as well as of the artifacts with them manufactured, if they are indicated, with the same terms, by any modalita 'of presentation and communication, including electronically, in order to provide correct information to the consumer. Read the decree.

What is Cork?

Cork is a material of natural origin taken from the bark of the cork oak. The bark layer is collected mainly from the Quercus Suber, a plant that lives mainly in southwestern Europe and northwestern Africa.

It is possible to extract the cork also from the bark of birch and similar plants, but in the restricted commercial use of the term only the one extracted from the cork oak can use the name of cork.

Il cork is mainly composed of suberin, a hydrophobic substance. Thanks to its waterproof, buoyant, elastic and flame retardant properties, it is used in a wide variety of products and in different commercial sectors.

Cork is a 100% organic material and this leads us to define it as a truly ecological natural material. In the textile sector, more and more fashion brands decide to use it to produce collections of bags, shoes and accessories such as wallets, but also earrings and necklaces.

Being the cork a fiber of vegetable origin such as organic cotton, hemp, linen, the jute, caucciù , ramia, is also to be considered cruelty free (vegan friendly).

Despite being a material with a thousand applications, over the decades plastic and others synthetic fibers they quickly replaced cork in many commercial sectors.

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Cork oak

The cork oak is native to the Mediterranean region, it grows abundantly in Portugal, Spain, parts of southern France, Italy and North Africa.

A tall carved cork oakThe cork oak it lives for about 150 years, reaching an average of 18 meters in height and has a large, round head and evergreen and shiny leaves.

La cork oak is ready for cork harvesting after about 25 years of life, but the bark obtained at the first extraction is rough and irregular and has little commercial value, while the cork obtained from the second harvest is of better quality.

The times between one harvest and the next are long, but it is well known that the oak will continue to produce cork for many decades.

How is cork taken from oak?

Il cork is taken from the cork oak without ever damaging the tree. Only the outer layer of the bark is removed, so as not to damage the development of the plant. Unlike the inner bark, the outer bark is not vital for the oak's survival, as it has the function of protecting it from the heat and dry winds of the Mediterranean summer.

After harvesting, the cork oak will produce a nuovo layer of bark with the same thickness and better properties than the previous one. The cork harvesting process can be carried out nuoafter about 3-10 years from the first harvest.

Harvesting the cork is done manually and consists of cutting the cracks in the outer bark, which is then carefully extracted from the inner bark and detached with the help of various levers and wedges, always taking great care not to injure the deeper regenerative layers of the cork oak.

This process requires great dexterity and experience.

The removed bark is boiled or steamed to remove soluble tannic acids from it and increase its flexibility; then the rough and woody surface is scraped by hand; so here is ready cork for commercial distribution.

A few have recently been introduced mechanized processes of cork extraction, which in addition to speeding up the harvesting operations, guarantee further safety for the cork oaks, preventing injuries that are harmful to the plant.

What do you do with cork?

Il Cork is one of the safest and most ecological materials to use, especially if we have an eye for the environment:

  • Il cork it is used in shoes, in particular those that use the welt (reinforcement between the upper and the sole) to improve thermal control and general comfort. They also use it to make fashion bags and accessories.
  • As it is waterproof and moisture resistant, the cork it is often used as an alternative to leather to produce bags, wallets, watch straps, jewelry and other fashion accessories.
  • Il cork it is used in musical instruments, especially wind instruments, where it is used to fasten segments of the instrument together, making the seams airtight.
  • Il cork it can be used to make bricks for the exterior walls of houses, as in the Portuguese pavilion at Expo 2000.
  • Il cork it is often used to produce spacecraft heat shields and fairings.
  • Il cork it can be used in the paper pick-up mechanisms of inkjet or laser printers.
  • Il cork can be used instead of wood or aluminum in car interiors.
  • Many racing bikes have the handlebars wrapped in tape based on cork manufactured in different colors.
  • Il cork it is widely used in the construction sector: it is both a thermal and acoustic (sound-absorbing) insulating material and has anti-mold properties. It is also often used to make interior floors and coats.
  • We often find the cork inside boats, especially for flooring.
  • The cork also for landscaping objects for aquariums.
  • Motorcycle helmets: the cork seems to be a step forward to polystyrene when it comes to safety for motorcyclists, in fact many helmet manufacturers use it instead of the synthetic competitor.
  • Clearly, we all know that the cork it is used for bottle caps.
Buy Cork products

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Natural fiber cork

The uniqueness of this natural material derives from its structure of air-filled cells, each of which consists of a watertight and flexible compartment. In bulk, these cells form an extraordinarily effective insulating medium and make the cork impermeable to liquids.

A heart made with cork

Il cork is a natural fiber of plant origin more unique than rare: a hive of microscopic cells surrounded by a gas (similar to oxygen) and covered mainly by suberin and lignin.

Suberin is a highly hydrophobic natural wax, while lignin (a polymer found in various plants) is responsible for stiffness, impermeability and strength.

Thanks to the presence of the gas pockets, the cork it is classified among the lightest natural materials ever, and this also explains why cork floats in water.

Technology is not yet able to achieve this elegant combination of properties, or to imitate it in the laboratory through the development of synthetic and artificial materials.

But how does a bark become a bag or a shoe?

Il cork it has features that make it possible, and relatively simple, to transform for a flood of creative uses. For example, the cork is an extraordinarily elastic material, which allows cutting and pressing until it turns into a thin sheet, which can be used to create accessories of cruelty free fashion.

It is also very flexible: it easily recovers its original shape after being compressed, a property known as "springback". And it is thanks to this property that the caps of cork they adapt well to bottlenecks, even when oddly shaped.

Waterproofing is one of the best known features of the cork: you could expose it to a water storm and it will remain unharmed, as water will bounce off of it. The high percentage of fatty substances present in its organic composition - such as suberin - makes the difference.

Il cork is not a wood as many think, but it can be classified as "dead fiber" or inert substance: no taste, no odors. A high hygienic value is another feature much appreciated by the transformative and creative industries.

Cork is a durable material, in fact it has great ability to preserve its original condition.

Characteristics of Cork

Fabric Quality:

The qualities of the fabric may vary based on its blending with other fibers. Example: with Elastan or Lycra you gain in elasticity.

  Does not shrink / discolor
  Quick drying

Ecological Characteristics:

The ecological characteristics of the fabric may vary based on textile certifications or blending with other fabrics.

  Natural - Artificial - Synthetic  
  No GMOs
  Natural raw material
  Recycled raw material
  Mechanical extraction
  Chemical extraction
  Energy saving
  Sustainability class  

Textile Certifications:

The certifications that can be assigned to the fabric, but which vary according to different factors: manufacturing company, fashion brand, blending.

Global Organic Textile Standard
Organic Content Standard
Global Recycle Standard
Second Life Plastic
Animal Free
Fair Wear Foundation

This card can only be found on

Cork as an ecological fiber

We have established that cork is a natural material which is harvested from the cork oak. We have seen qualities and characteristics that make its transformation possible.

Now let's talk about its environmental impact: cork is 100% recyclable and biodegradable and it is considered one of the most sustainable materials that man can use.

Lots of bottle corks

The classic caps in cork, for example, they are recyclable after uncorking our beloved bottles. Such as? "Mincing them". The resulting granulate will be used to make other products, such as shoe soles, lining boards or other insulating materials. We can also use them at home as a fertilizer for plants: once chopped, just put it in a pot with earth.

The possibilities of the cork they are endless and the recycling process never stops. Good news for the planet, when we feel like it we could reduce environmental pollution by buying fashion products made in cork.

How do you wash the Cork?

The environmental impact of laundry detergents and household cleaners is devastating to our planet, so we highly recommend using ecological detergents.

Being a very resistant natural material, cork can be washed by hand or in the washing machine, and it is also possible to put it in the dryer. There are no particular washing contraindications for cork, which can also be brushed hard to remove the most hostile stains.

We also recommend the classic bicarbonate, or a few drops of lemon or a pinch of white vinegar mixed with water and a sponge.

Do you want to wash your clothes while minimizing water pollution?

  1. We have selected one of the most sustainable detergent and detergent brands click here to buy an ecological detergent
  2. You could use a Washing Ball to wash without using detergents click here to buy a washing ball
  3. You could use the nuovissimo Ecoegg, a nice ecological egg with which you can do about 720 washes click here to buy the ecoegg egg


Do you want more information on Cork? Ask your questions using the form below.

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Our answers:

Where can I buy cork?

Vesti la natura has created a table with more than 40 sustainable materials, their respective applications in the textile sector, and their suppliers (even for small quantities). To access the table we ask you to donate a small financial contribution to our association. Click here for more information.

Why does cork float?

Cork floats because it weighs less than the amount of water that would have to be pushed out if it sank. Wood, cork, ice are less dense than water and float, while denser materials sink.

How is cork recycled?

Cork is an organic material, so it must be recycled in the waste through separate collection. However, our advice is to use it as a fertilizer for plants, just chop it and put it in a pot with earth.

Natural or artificial cork?

Cork is a natural and not an artificial material.

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