Go Green: Renewable Materials

What is a renewable material?

You may already know that 93% of the materials used in the manufacture of Gemar balloons are renewable, but do you know what that truly means? Today we thought it might be helpful to explain exactly what renewable materials are, and why they matter in our efforts to create a sustainable future.

All Gemar balloons are made from latex, a natural material which is harvested from the Hevea Brasiliensis tree in the same way that maple sap is harvested to make maple syrup. Some natural materials are renewable, which means they can replenish themselves, and some aren’t. Things like stone or coal, for example, are only available in a limited supply and if we use them up there won’t be any more. They are non-renewable.

Renewable Materials

Other natural materials can be renewed, meaning we can grow more. Many manufacturers who use wood or paper promise that for every tree they cut down, they will plant at least one new tree. This ensures that there will be trees available for future use, both as a material, by local wildlife, and by us all as trees absorb greenhouse gasses. Of course the forests must also be well managed, which is why looking for FSC certification can be helpful.

The problem is, planting trees can be a very long term project. An oak tree, for example, grows very slowly and can take 30 years to mature enough to produce an acorn, many more years to reach full size. This means that even though oak wood is a renewable material, it would be possible to use it faster than it can be replaced. Growing an oak forest could also take up a lot of space!

Renewable, and Fast

We have a subcategory of renewable materials for those that are rapidly renewable, meaning they can be replaced within ten years. Bamboo is famously fast growing and a good example of a rapidly renewable material. Another is natural latex.

It takes about 6 years for a Hevea Brasiliensis tree to mature enough that the latex can be harvested, but since the tree isn’t cut down or damaged it can be tapped again and again for many years. The latex that we remove is replaced almost straight away as the tree simply produces more sap. You could call it a super rapidly renewable material!

Why does it matter?

Choosing to use well managed, renewable materials is a great way to make sure that the generations who follow us will have access to the same resources that we have. Generations from now the Rocca family will still be able to make latex balloons, because the Hevea Brasiliensis forests will effectively never run out of sap.
In life many things are about give and take. We take from nature all the time, when we grow crops to eat or use materials to create the things we want and need. There is nothing bad in that, provided we don’t take too much.

By using a rapidly renewable material, we make sure we take only what nature can spare.