Flourish Magazine

Fall-Winter 2014

Flourish Magazine, the North Bay's Guide to Sustainable Living. Serving Marin, Sonoma and Napa counties and sharing the stories of local people working towards sustainable living, organic foods and eco-conscious lifestyles.

Issue link: http://www.ifoldsflip.com/i/382330

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Page 15 of 51

16 FLOURISH • FALL/WINTER 2014 includes phone cases, dog collars and a variety of accessories made in Portugal, as well as bags crafted by hand from her own designs in the United States. The cork oak (quercus suber) is native to European and North African countries with arid areas—Portugal, France, Spain, Italy, Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria —and it's unique, because after skilled craftspeople strip off the bark, it grows back, so they can harvest another crop nine years later. The lifespan of a cork tree is 200 years, so it allows multiple harvests, which is contrary to what most people think about trees. "All humans know is that if you want wood, you cut a tree down, you take it out of the forest," says Patrick Spencer, executive director of the nonprofit Cork Forest Conservation Alliance in Salem, Oregon. "This forestry is different from any forestry in the world," he adds. "Cork harvesting is like shear- ing sheep. Nobody kills a sheep to get the wool." Spencer says the common belief that overuse is putting the cork forests at risk is a misconception. Cork is plentiful, and the current forests can supply corks for every bottle of wine produced for the next 100 years. "Using cork is really good for the forest," he says, because harvesting keeps the trees healthy. He encourages people to use cork products, because if the de- mand disappears, the farmers will plant something else, most likely plants that are less beneficial for the environment. "The cork forests can be saved. The American people have the power to change the tide," says Spencer. He debunks the belief that metal and plastic closures are better choices for wine bottles, explaining that plastic is not biodegradable, and metal caps are too small to recycle, so they end up in landfills. "Screw caps and plastic are not sustainable alternatives to cork," he says. "Sustainability doesn't end in the vineyards," he adds, and suggests telling restaurateurs and sommeliers, "Sell me only wines with natural cork." Spencer reports that in one year, 1.3 billion corks are pro- duced for wine bottles around the world, and they're recy- clable. Recycling started in the United States six years ago, Anything leather can do, cork can do better. Corx in Sonoma sells everything from jewelry and handbags to personal and home accessories made from cork. Photos below courtesy of Corx.

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