Hemp As an Economic and Environmental Solution
A Little About Hemp
Hemp plays an important role in sustainable, organic agricultural and industrial productions. Industrial grade hemp is the variety Cannabis Sativa and is different from the hemp plant used as a drug. It is not legal to grow in the US but is grown in other places around the world. Industrial grade hemp grows quickly producing up to 25 tons per acre per year. Hemp is one of the purest, most complete plants on earth and is often referred to as a carbon-negative raw material. Environmentally friendly, it requires no pesticides or fertilizers and actually cleans the area it is in of weeds. The hemp plant not only quickly replenishes, it adds more essential nutrients into the soil. The hemp plant is good both for the soil and the atmosphere.
Applications of Hemp
The use of hemp dates some 12000 years and has seen a variety of purposes ranging from ship sails, textiles, clothing, rope and food source. With a texture similar to that of linen, pure hemp still today has a variety of industrial and agricultural uses:
- Hemp is cellulose rich making its fibers very strong. As much as 20 times stronger than cotton, hemp is a perfect choice for making rope.
- Being more ‘woody’ in texture, the inner two fibers of hemp are more often used in non-woven items and other industrial applications, such as for mulch, animal bedding and cat litter.
- Having long and very strong fibers hemp also makes the most beautiful textiles. Apparel and furnishings produced from hemp fabric are very durable, more absorbent and mildew-resistant than cotton, anti-microbial, and are more effective than other fabrics at blocking the sun’s UV rays. Because of its hollow fibers hemp fabric is thermal in cold weather and cooling in warmer weather. With the discovery of new production techniques hemp garments have retained their traditional qualities with the additional quality of softness that makes it an attractive choice for clothing and bed linens.
- Recycled hemp clothing, rags and fishing nets were used as input for paper production as far back as 2000 years ago. Today, especially with its sustainable properties, hemp continues as a popular source for paper production.
- Many cultures worldwide have found hemp a nourishing food supply. Hemp seeds are 40% oil and contain a nutritious protein. Seeds are full of vitamins and minerals and are one of the best sources of essential fatty acids. Hemp oil is one of the lowest in saturated fats and the meat of the plant is high in amino acids. Cultures have used hemp in foods ranging from butters, milks, and cheeses to pasta, breads, and burgers. Oil from the seeds is also used in the manufacture of oil-based paints and as a moisturizing agent in creams and lotions.
- Replacing oil based raw material, the stalk of the hemp plant is used in the production of hemp plastic. Maintaining the same characteristics as plastic, hemp plastic is fully biodegradable and recyclable.
- A very versatile raw material for construction, hemp is stronger than wood, naturally resistant to rot and pests, and is fire retardant. Hemp has been used to make blocks, bricks, beams, columns, house frames, boards, gutters, plumbing pipes, installation, flooring, and driveways.
- Research has shown a vast potential for hemp seed hulls used to create a sustainable bio-fuel. The first Model-T was built to run on hemp gasoline. As a fuel, it is clean burning and emits less carbon dioxide and less sulfur dioxide. Hemp is cost effective, does not deplete natural resources and could in effect lend to a fuel independency.
The hemp plant is one of the most versatile eco-friendly plants on earth. Every part of the plant – outer stalk, inner stalk, seed kernel, seed husk, and leaves – is utilized to make textiles, paper, food, medicine, building materials, paint, detergent, oil, ink, and fuel. Unlike other crops, hemp can grow in most climates, in most soil conditions, without fertilizers, and without pesticides. It grows fast, enriches the soil, controls the weeds, creates more oxygen than any other crop and it is biodegradable.
Hemp is a major natural resource that can benefit both the economy and the environment. Although crop production is not allowed in the US, raw materials can be imported. An example is hemp fabric used to make clothing. Quickly becoming a popular item, hemp clothing is durable, easy to wear and easy to care for. For those who are earth aware, hemp paper too is becoming a first choice over wood pulp paper products. Hemp paper materials go into the production of notebooks, writing paper, copy paper, envelopes and the like.
Do your part for our environment and search out products made from hemp as a delightful surprise of its versatility and also as a kindness to Mother Earth. Sustainable, cost-effective, versatile hemp is helping to keep the world green.