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Natural Materials: exploitation of resources vs. cultivation from waste.

In the world of natural materials, there is a fundamental distinction between products obtained through the exploitation of natural resources and those derived from the cultivation of waste. This difference is crucial for understanding the environmental impact and sustainability of these materials.

Exploitation of natural resources: the case of cork and latex

Cork and latex are examples of natural materials that require extraction from a living plant. Cork is extracted from the bark of the cork oak tree, a process that can be done without damaging the tree. However, the bark takes about 9 years to regenerate completely, limiting the frequency of harvesting.

Latex, on the other hand, is a milky white liquid produced by various plants, but most natural latex comes from the rubber tree. Again, extraction does not harm the tree, but production is limited by the tree's ability to produce latex.

Cultivation from waste: the case of mycelium

Unlike cork and latex, mycelium is an example of a natural material that can be grown from waste products. Mycelium is the vegetative part of fungi, consisting of a network of filaments called hyphae. It can be grown on a variety of waste-based substrates, such as sawdust, rice husks or ground coffee.

Mycelium cultivation does not require felling or extraction from living trees, making it a renewable resource that does not deplete natural resources. Furthermore, mycelium can be cultivated under controlled conditions, further reducing its environmental impact.

The impact of land use

An important aspect to consider is land use. Forests are often cut down to make room for the cultivation of plants from which materials such as cork and latex are extracted. This not only reduces the availability of soil for traditional cultivation, but also contributes to deforestation and loss of biodiversity.

Furthermore, the production per plant of these resources is often low, which means that large amounts of soil are required to produce significant quantities of these materials.

While cork and latex are valuable natural materials, their production method can have a significant impact on natural resources and land use. In contrast, materials such as mycelium offer a sustainable alternative that not only reduces environmental impact, but also provides new opportunities for waste recycling. It is crucial to consider these factors when choosing between different natural materials. L-ife has chosen to use mycelium as a completely natural and compostable product that is useful for humans and, above all, does not require arable land for its production.


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