The Self-Regenerating Building Material
Cork is both recyclable and renewable because it regenerates its bark after harvesting, which causes no harm to trees. Durable cork can be found in the flooring of the Library of Congress and as an insulator for space shuttles. It’s also a waterproof, abrasion-resistant fire retardant and acoustic insulator with odor and humidity-controlling and acoustic sound-dampening applications. In Portugal, the world’s largest producer, the outer skin regrows in time for the next harvest. The stripped trees absorb large amounts of carbon dioxide and release more oxygen, so Portugal’s cork forests, or montados, are often referred to as the “lungs” of the environment.