Hemp -The green revolution

Hemp clothing is very low impact on the environment. As a crop, hemp requires no synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, or GMO seeds. This means there is no pesticide, insecticide, or synthetic fertilizer pollution of ground water, soil, or air, in areas where hemp is grown. Hemp is a fast growing crop that requires little water. It is a high yield crop that produces significantly more fibre per acre than crops like cotton. In fact, hemp plants produce 250% more fibre than cotton). Hemp enriches the soil it is grown in, making it an excellent rotating crop. Hemp can also be grown as a carbon negative crop.
Hemp fibre is collected from a plant in the species cannabis sativa. Hemp is kind of like a cousin of weed. Hemp contains 0.3% or less THC (which is the psychoactive bit of weed). The cannabis you’re thinking of usually has between 5%-20% THC. That’s a huge difference. But anyway, for some reason, the US still made cultivating hemp illegal in 1937. Just recently in 2014, President Obama signed a provision to remove hemp from the Controlled Substances Act allowing farmers to grow it for research only. And now, as of December 20, 2018, under the 2018 United States Farm Bill, hemp is again recognized as an agricultural commodity. Hemp is a lightweight fabric with a similar drape to linen. Hemp clothing is UV, mold, and mildew resistant, while being highly absorbent and breathable. It is an excellent fabric for outdoor gear. The tensile strength of hemp fibre is three times that of cotton, meaning hemp fabric has a long product lifespan. Since hemp clothing is naturally antimicrobial, you don’t need to wash it as often. This benefit further reduces wear on the product as well as water consumption during it’s lifespan. Hemp fabric dyes easily and retains the colour well, which also means hemp clothing uses much less water during the dyeing process.
No Industrial Waste By-products
One of the other ways in which hemp is an eco-friendly fabric option is that the whole plant can be used. While it’s the stalks we want for clothing, the woody layer is great for animal bedding, building purposes, and fuel. It can even be heated, treated, and molded into a plastic substitute, a use that’s taking the German auto industry by storm.
Carbon Negative Farming
If we look at it from a production standpoint, we’ll see that the growth of hemp is an inherently eco-friendly process. It makes perfect sense that hemp has been grown for millennia because of its low water and resource requirements. According to analysis by the Stockholm Environment Institute, the water required to produce 1kg of hemp is somewhere between 300 and 500 litres. Now compare that to the 10,000 litres required to produce the same 1kg of cotton.
Less area for cultivation
Hemp is also high-yielding and produces much more product on much less land, without the need for any chemical pesticides This, and the fact that it replenishes soil nutrients through growth gives it the ability to regenerate soil, a process known as phytoremediation (i.e. cleaning the soil and removing it of toxins).
Advantages of Hemp Fabric
Hemp is durable
Hemp is not heavy, it is lightweight and breathable
Hemp has a naturally high UPF
Hemp is partially hydrophobic
Hemp doesn’t shrink
Disadvantages of Hemp Fabric
It’s a little textured
Hemp fabric is expensive
Hemp fabric vs. Cotton
After it’s been processed, hemp feels pretty similar to cotton (just slightly tougher, like a soft canvas). It’s also light, faster drying, less absorbing, and more UV protective. Plant wise, it requires less water and half as much land to grow as cotton.
Hemp fabric vs. Bamboo
Bamboo is generally softer and silkier, but hemp is much more sustainable, hypoallergenic, and durable than bamboo. Note that bamboo is a tricky fibre. As a plant, it’s super sustainable as it requires low water and consumes high amounts of CO2 (just like hemp!). Turning it into a fabric, however, can involve all sorts of toxic chemicals and most “bamboo” you see listed we wouldn’t consider sustainable.
However, bamboo can be sustainably turned into either lyocell or modal via closed-loop processes.
Hemp fabric vs. Linen
Linen is very similar to hemp, except that it’s derived from the flax plant (another really sustainable, low impact crop). Both fabrics are light and breathable, but hemp’s longer fibres (which can reach up to 15 ft) make it more durable than shorter flax fibres (which reach a max of 3 ft).
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