Epic saga of the rubber tree

When we first imagined our idea for a bag that could keep jars safe in travel we researched every idea possible related to padding and insulation. We were more focused on eco friendly food safe options. One such product out there was the koozie, not sure if that should be spelled with a K or C? 

We quickly landed on natural rubber, yes rubber from the Hevea tree. Also historically from a guayule plant, which has tried to be as good a supply but hasn't seemed get the same yields as a rubber tree.

Patagonia has always been a big inspiration to me because I grew up in Ventura California where the are founded. They re-pioneered natural rubber as a replacement to neoprene. A notoriously toxic product that that has numerous links to cancer causing properties in communities throughout the world.

I saw re-pioneered because rubber from trees is not a new thing. It's amazing to me that many people don't realize car tires were originally made from the stuff. Big oil eventually got into the mix and monopolized the market as they do. I'm sure there is more to the story, but I want to focus on my experience in sourcing natural rubber for our products.