These days, you can find cork in more than just your wine bottles. The light-weight wood, infamous for having helped Antonie van Leeuwenhoek discover single cells, also doubles as an eco-friendly kitchen construction material. It's most popular as flooring and countertops. Cork comes from the bark of cork oak trees. The bark can be stripped about every 10 years, which makes cork very sustainable because the trees can live between 150 and 250 years without ever having to be cut down for the cork to be harvested [source: APCOR].
Cork flooring has been around for quite a while and has improved dramatically in appearance. You can find it in several different tile patterns and colors, so you're likely to find something on the market that will fit your home's style and design. But aside from the range of looks you can achieve, cork floors are extremely durable, easy to repair if damaged, and they are a natural thermal insulator, which means they can help keep rooms warm in the winter and cooler in the summer [source: Globus Cork].
And when it comes to countertops, SuBERRA is the company leading the way. All of its countertops are made of recycled, post-industrial cork rather than new cork [source: Ecosupplycenter.com]. The end result are countertops that are, like cork flooring, durable, heat and water resistant, and even impervious to bacteria like E.coli and salmonella [source: Ecosupplycenter.com].