A few months ago, after we finished our kitchen recession remodel, I went in search of round placemats for our new round kitchen table. Since I intend to keep this table for the rest of my days, I want to keep it in good shape. We never used placemats on our old, battered 50’s dinette, so I’ve been out of the placemat loop for the past decade. (Placemat loop?) I figured I’d find some sort of cloth mats, but to my delight found cork placemats at Crate & Barrel marked down to $3 a piece (and it doesn’t look like they carry them anymore). I was a little hesitant. Would they stain? Would they crumble? It’s one thing to purchase an item made of a sustainable material, but if it doesn’t hold up then it’s not really sustainable, right?
Well, four months later I’m happy to report that these placemats totally rock. They look as good as they did brand-new. No rips, no crumbling, no drink rings, and the food wipes right off. They are cushiony and naturally resistant to mold and mildew. I love that I don’t have to keep throwing them in the wash like I might with a fabric mat. Vinyl mats wipe clean, too, but I just could not go there. These are such an excellent alternative. Now I’m planning to line some of our drawers with cork (since I didn’t have enough Marmoleum remnants to do all of the kitchen) and will skip the pricey version in favor of cork rolls from a craft or hardware store (thanks for that idea, Rachele).
From what I’ve read online, cork is a natural renewable resource, and it is harvested by stripping the bark from cork trees. It doesn’t harm the trees and it grows back. The downside is that the trees only grow in Europe, primarily Portugal, so cork travels a ways to get here. But don’t most products travel a ways to get here? Not a good argument, I know, but it’s all I’ve got right now.
Any good cork success/failure stories to share? What are you using for placemats? Any good crafty reuse ideas out there for making your own?