Low maintenance table mats

I am a big fan of cork. I have a lovely un-varnished cork floor in my office, right under my feet as I type. It is sealed with natural vegetable wax so has the feel of a wine cork, rather than a semi-hard floor.

But it is my cork place mats that really get me excited. I have many messy eaters in the family so cloth place mats are not for me. They would be in the laundry every day (OK, so my napkins are there anyway). Many funky placemats are made out of vinyl. You can tell that as soon as you open the shrink-wrap and get assailed by the hideous off-gassing. Even if you find mats which are not made from vinyl, they often have semi-spongy undersides which quickly accumulate mould and mildew if you happen to pile them up when they are even slightly damp.

cork mat small
Cork mats solve all these problems. They look good, they feel good, they can be easily wiped and do not mould, and they are made from a renewable resource. You can even try sending them off to the city compost when they are past their useful lifespan (they will, eventually split at the edges as they are quite thin). The ones I have are from a Canadian company called Jelinek which produces many cork products and runs a wine cork recycling programme. Their place mats come in rectangles or ovals and are ridiculously cheap at around $1 each. I love them!
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