Cork is the bark of cork oak trees and its extraction is a very respectful and low-impact process, as the tree does not have to be cut down and the bark regenerates. Cork oak forests are lahabitats full of biodiversity and these trees are one of the most eco-efficient forest species, with each tree absorbing 5 tonnes of CO2 per year. By investing in the cork industry we are helping to preserve these forestsand boosting the production of one of the best low environmental impact materials. In addition, cork is basically “tree skin” which makes this material the perfect vegan alternative to animal leather. This material is waterproof, very light and antistatic among other properties.
Cork is wonderful but on its own it could not be used to make bags or wallets. Conventional cork fabric consists of a thin cork layer, a polyurethane layer and a layer of natural or synthetic fabric. The coloured cork fabric is painted by applying the ink directly onto the cork layer which means that it is done with virtually no waste of water and no waste or contamination caused by dyeing. Nowadays, other alternatives without polyurethane (or other types of plastic) and with organic fabrics are starting to be produced, but these cork fabrics are only sold in large quantities, at very high prices and do not have the same quality and durability compared to the conventional ones. That is why I continue to work with the “conventional” cork fabric.
My ambition, in a near future, is to be able to develop an efficient technique to paint cork in a natural way in order to be able to buy more sustainable cork fabric (when it reaches a quality and durability equivalent to traditional cork fabric) only in its natural colour and to dye it myself in order to make it economically possible to offer even more sustainable cork products.
Upcycling is a form of recycling that transforms materials that would be considered waste into products of higher value. To make the linings of the bags I use manly discarded and scrap fabrics. These fabrics are my favourite low environmental impact materials because when they are used the waste that would be caused if they were to go to landfill is reduced and at the same time they do not contribute to increase the demand for other textiles that would need to use more resources to be produced.
Other low environmental impact materials
When it is not possible for me to recycle discarded fabrics I choose to use other low environmental impact materials like organic fabrics (such as organic cotton and organic linen) or other natural fabrics such as linen and hemp which naturally use fewer resources and do not require toxic chemicals in their production.
Zero Waste design means trying to use as much material as possible so that nothing is thrown away. By laser cutting all the pieces, all the spaces left by larger pieces, such as bags and wallets, are used to make smaller pieces, such as earrings and keychains. When it comes to planing and marking the laser cut it can be really challenging, but it’s also fun and I have a great time creating it for Pell d’Arbre.
All the products sold by Pell d’Arbre are produced in an artisan way, with a “slow” philosophy that prioritises creativity and quality to the expense of quantity of products made. This process results in very exclusive products that are released almost on a drop-by-drop basis in limited editions.