It's so much nicer to feel a warm natural material in your pocket than cold slippery plastic.
Ever since I got my first smartphone, I've bought a plastic case to go with it. I never liked these cases; they were ugly and made my phone feel heavy and thick, but they were necessary to protect an expensive device. Then, a couple months ago, I received an email from a Swedish company called 15:21 that specializes in cork accessories. They asked to send me one of their phone cases and I agreed.
The switch has been great. The natural cork case looks more attractive than plastic and feels warm whenever I grab it. It has texture and grip, which means that my phone slips out of my hand less frequently than it used to, and it feels lighter and thinner whenever it's in the back pocket of my jeans.Perhaps most impressive are the product's environmental credentials. Cork is a fascinating material that is entirely natural and biodegradable. It stands up to heavy use and its appearance improves over time, scratches notwithstanding, similar to leather. Indeed, the case is so striking that several people have asked where I got it.
Co-founder Fredrik told me via email that demand for cork has decreased in recent years, as wineries transition to using plastic corks and aluminum screw caps. This does not bode well for Portugal's cork forests, as a thriving industry meant that the trees would be protected. He wrote,
"This sudden change of demand has resulted in a deforestation of cork oaks, [but] by inventing new commercial uses for cork, we support the survival of the cork forests."
Cork forests absorb large amounts of carbon dioxide and, according to Fredrik, are second only to the Amazon rainforest in terms of biodiversity. After its bark is harvested, a tree must be left for 9 years to regrow its bark, and thus the cycle continues. The trees grow naturally, with no added pesticides, irrigation, or pruning. It sounds so much more wholesome than plastic production!
15:21's goal is to "blend Scandinavian simplicity with nature's own aesthetics." The company produces phone cases for various models, as well as wallets, passport holders, and card holders. You can check out the full product line here because, as the company's tag line goes, "Nobody wants bad karma in their pocket."