From its roots to its leaves, every part of the coconut palm can be utilized for daily life – for food, water, shelter, even skincare, which is why it’s commonly called the “Tree of Life”. You may know that coconut water provides more potassium than a banana, but did you know coconuts can be made into trunk liners, baby food, and spill absorbents too? Indeed, without coconuts there would be no SpillFix, as SpillFix is made from the amazingly absorbent husk of the coconut. Coconuts’ exploding popularity around the world has led the global coconut market to grow by more than 500% in the last decade. Whether you’re a fan of coconut or not, it’s here to stay. Here are 5 fun coconut facts in honor of Earth Day:
- It’s a fruit, not a nut
Yes, I know this is shocking, but the coconut is actually a fruit, a fibrous one-seeded drupe (like an olive, or almond), and not a botanical nut. Unlike true tree nuts like walnuts and pecans, it doesn’t open when ripe to release its seeds to the earth. If you plant a fresh whole coconut (with the husk still intact) in the right conditions and take care of it properly, it will grow into a coconut palm tree!
- 90% of coconuts come from Asia
Long before virgin coconut oil was marketed as a ‘superfood’ or coconut water as a healthy hydration solution in Western cultures, the humble coconut had been an important daily staple in many tropical cultures. The coconut palm cocos nucifera originated in Asia, and has been cultivated for over 4000 years. Today, 50 billion coconuts are harvested every year, 90% of which derives from developing countries in Asia, where it has supported the livelihoods of millions of small-scale farmers for generations. The Philippines, Indonesia and India are the top producers.
- Coconuts are an abundant renewable resource
Coconut trees don’t require chemical fertilizers to grow. It takes 6-10 years for the tree to produce its first fruit and 10-15 years to reach peak production. Each tree can produce 50-200 coconuts a year and typically has a lifespan of at least 80 years – that’s up to 13,000 coconuts in one tree’s lifetime! To ensure that sustainable coconut cultivation practices continue (read: no cutting corners), and to support the livelihoods of coconut farmers, be sure to buy certified organic coconut products.
- All you need for earth-friendly living
Besides food and beverage products, all parts of the coconut can also be turned into environmentally friendly non-food products as well. During World War II, when intravenous solution (IV) was in short supply, coconut water from young green coconuts was used as a substitute due to its sterility. Coconut shells can be converted into activated carbon in filtration applications, its leaves are used for roofing materials, and its husk for fuel. If you’re ever stranded on a deserted island, look for a coconut palm tree – it’ll save your life!
- With coconuts, nothing goes to waste
The fibrous brown husk or coir (pronounced coy-er) though not edible, is used to make everyday products like ropes, doormats, brooms and brushes. While these utilize just a small proportion of waste byproduct in the coconut industry, higher-value coir products have recently emerged that take advantage of the fiber’s highly absorbent and lightweight characteristics. Innovations such as automotive trunk liners, packaging material, pet bedding, and even environmentally-friendly industrial absorbents like our very own SpillFix, are sustainable alternatives to fossil-fuel derived products.
Earth Day is a great opportunity to celebrate our beautiful earth, and commit to using sustainable products – such as those made from coconuts – so that we can enjoy her for generations to come.
Learn how the coconut tree provides all-around benefits — from its husks and roots to coconut oil — through the infographic “Plant of Life: An Infographic on Various Coconut Uses.”