Since laws on growing hemp have lifted across many parts of the world in recent years, it's gained popularity as a supposedly sustainable material. Hemp is a very versatile material but is it really eco-friendly?
Hemp as a Material
Although cannabis and hemp plants are similar in many ways, hemp is more commonly used in the majority of products you buy, seeing that cannabis is illegal in most areas of the world. Using hemp as a natural fibre is not a new invention. For many years, the fibres from industrial hemp have been used to make paper, cloth, rope and fuel. Using hemp to make every day resources is a practice that has gone on for thousands of years, until materials such as plastic were introduced. Yet now we are realising how damaging plastic and similar materials are for the planet, manufacturers are turning back to natural fibres such as hemp to use instead.
How Sustainable is Hemp as an Eco-friendly Material?
The hemp plant requires no herbicides to grow and very few pesticides. Hemp plants need very little water to grow and the plants take up very little space. After all hemp is a "weed", which is where the nickname for the recreational drug is derived. Weeds grow prolifically and its biodegradable too. There is also little waste from the hemp plant. Practically all of the plant - every part of it - can be used. Everything from the plant seeds, its oil, leaves and stalk can be utilised, making it a very eco-friendly crop. The leaves can be juiced or eaten. Hemp oil can be used in cooking or to make paints, adhesives and plastics. The plant's seeds are high in nutrients, including protein and omega 3. Fibres from the stalk can be used to make textiles, such as clothes, rope and canvas. And the core can be made into everyday resources like paper, animal bedding and construction materials. As well as being an excellent sustainable alternative, hemp today is also often used to make hemp derived CBD oil.
Experts confirm that hemp is indeed a sustainable, responsibly sourced material. Cotton, soy and corn are also great eco-friendly resources, but there is nothing that can be made with these that can't be made with hemp. Plus, hemp's carbon footprint is still far lower than any of the above.
Sustainable Issues with Hemp
Help is very much a sustainable resource. It's easy to grow, requires little water and it is a renewable crop. The only issue is commonly associated with using him as a as an industrial material is labour efforts and time. Hemp takes far less water to grow in comparison with corn and cotton, which require higher quantities. But cotton is more advantageous during the cotton spinning process and when the fibres are gathered from the plants. Hemp is less efficient in this area, which therefore reflects in the cost of hemp-derived products. However, with the right system, hemp production has the potential to become more convenient to cultivate and even more sustainable to produce.
There are always ways to be more sustainable, but hemp certainly earns its title as a responsible material. It's safe to say that it's high on the list of environmentally-friendly materials. What do you think?