Qurkies: Sustainable building blocks for kids made from cork

Made from cork, which is a natural and sustainable material, Qurkies are soft yet firm building blocks that can also fit on Lego Duplo bricks. The cork bricks can even be wiped clean with a wet cloth.

Looking for eco-friendly building blocks for your kids to play with? Qurkies’ building bricks made from cork may just be the toy the family have been waiting for.

Qurkies are made from a waste stream from the bottle cork industry. A very durable material, cork is recyclable and is better for the environment given that the material also absorbs CO2. 

Qurkies is the brainchild of Dutch product designer and father of two, Ruud van den Heijkant. He said: “When I first became a father, I was amazed at the amount of plastic used for toys. Plastic has the ecological footprint of a dinosaur. So not something you would like to give to your children. I wanted to take an iconic example of a plastic toy and turn it into something natural.”

Qurkies was launched in 2018 and the following year the children’s toy brand was selected and certified by the Solar Impulse Foundation as 1 of 1,000 “beautiful sustainable product initiatives”.

As a product designer, Ruud van den Heijkant is well aware of the impact of products on the environment, and the need to create products that are . He added: “Product design is about concessions. We must stop making concessions to our environment all the time. Eco-design is not only expressed in the Qurkies blocks, but also in our packaging and business operations. We minimise material and avoid plastic. Our electricity comes from solar panels and we deliver parcels by bicycle.”

Cork forests are one of the few examples of fully sustainable forestry operations. They are economically sustainable, due to the high market value of cork.

Harvesting of cork, which does not involve the cutting of trees, is a very delicate process and is done entirely by hand. Cork bark is stripped off the tree like a kind of coat. It grows back through a unique natural process.  A cork tree can be harvested for the first time when it is 25 years old, and then only once every 9 years. 

Everything from the cork bark is used. The core of the bark is used for bottle corks. Qurkies are made from the waste and remnants of this process. Everything that remains is used as energy for the factory.


Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyle including sustainable and green living

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