THE DARK HISTORY OF RUBBERDate: 2019-02-26
Ever wonder where the rubber, from tyres to seals, on your car comes from? Find out here.
The history of rubber is awful, thanks to Belgian's King Leopold II. When it was discovered that the sap from rubber trees was pretty useful, various European countries started farming it in territories that had the correct climate.
Greedy for money, Leopold bought land from the Congolese for a pittance and went about clearing forests to create space to plant rubber trees. But, when the locals showed no interest in farming the land for the Belgian, things got nasty. It's estimated that during his reign, between six and 12 million Congolese lost their lives – from either contracting diseases like smallpox from their European masters, being burned alive when they didn't meet their rubber-collecting quotas, or bleeding to death after having their hand chopped off for refusing to farm the rubber trees.
Yup, pretty awful. Eventually, the global community heard about the atrocities and forced Leopold to give up control of the Congo to Belgium in 1908.
Over the past century since then, synthetic rubber has become the material of choice by vehicle manufacturers and the Congolese have been spared from farming rubber trees. Now they're exploited for cobalt for mobile phone parts...
So, next time you look at your tyres, spare a thought for those African's who had it bad all those years ago and be glad humanity has come a long way since then.
Although, now most rubber is made from oil so poor mother nature is taking a beating. Which is pretty bad too.
Find out more in the video from Donut Media below.