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The impact of natural rubber on the environment and people.

July 25, 2019 1 min read

An owner of a Spindle Latex Mattress asked us "what would spindle's response be to this BBC article critical about rubber trees and the environment?"

Thanks for sharing that article with us. Great topic.

We don't know enough about the African plantations so we started poking around. From what we can tell, a lot of the rubber coming out of Africa is used for tires. If you haven't already seen these, you may be interested in:

Your Spindle relies on latex from the rubber tree, hevea brasiliensis. These trees were originally only found in the Amazon rainforest of South America. Today, however, most plantations are located in the Asia Pacific (Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia) West Africa, and Central America (Guatemala).

Latex is considered a low-impact crop. Rubber trees have a life span of about 32 years. At 7 years, the tree is considered mature and ready for harvesting. Most trees will produce sap for about 25 years and then be used as wood for furniture or burned as fuel. Because the harvesting lifespan is longer than it takes for a tree to reach maturity, rubber trees are ecologically sustainable. It is possible to continually renew the rubber tree forest as a usable source without depleting the forest or plantation. To your point, that's not always the case, and there's nothing sustainable about destroying old-growth forest.

[Thanks to David H. for sharing this thought provoking and interesting article with us.]

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