Lesser Known Facts That Explain Why Hemp Is The Future Fabric
I’ll admit it, hemp did not mean anything to me before I met a community of farmers in India’s hinterland in 2016.
4 years later, I am among the most vocal advocates of mainstream use of this crop.
Hemp might not ring a bell for you either, but this plant has been in use for several centuries.
It has been used to make everything from paper to ropes, to clothing. Several misconceptions surrounding this crop as it belongs to the marijuana family.
It is high time humans must realize the amazing benefits of cultivating this super crop.
And reap its benefits before the world is in ruins – beyond repair.
Hemp Plant Facts
The fiber from the stalks of the Cannabis sativa plant is processed into Hemp fabric. The hemp plant uses almost no water to grow and can flourish on rainwater.
The roots of the plant look like tentacles emerging from under the earth. The plant can reach a height of 12 inches within a month, thereby preventing erosion of the topsoil.
In fact, the roots of the Hemp plant can grow up to three feet or more in length.
Hemp is unlike any other plant.
It anchors into the soil and preserves the topsoil and the subsoil. Due to this anchoring, the soil remains healthy for years without any need for crop rotation. Hemp can be grown in the same soil without any fertilizers or crop rotation for more than two decades.
When farmers harvest the hemp plant, they return the leaves and roots to the fields to keep the soil nutrient-rich. In fact, the hemp plant improves the soil richness more than before it was planted. Therefore, it is safe to say that hemp plants keep on giving to mankind and the environment.
The hemp plant is processed into various things including clothing. And the fabric processed from this plant is very tensile and durable.
Impact of Hemp Fabric On The Environment
If ever there is a faceoff between hemp versus other fabrics, hemp will be the clear winner. 5 reasons why:
- Hemp fabric can be added to the compost pile when its life ends.
- It doesn’t pollute or clog the soil aeration and decomposes easily.
- The hemp plant doesn’t release any harmful chemicals into the air.
- It utilizes three times less water, land, insecticides, pesticides, and overall budget than any other natural fabric.
- The deep roots of the hemp plant act as a natural soil aerator and prevent soil erosion.
Therefore, producing hemp fabric is an environmentally conscious decision.
How Is Hemp Fabric Superior to Other Fabrics?
I can go on and on, literally too many points to count. Let’s work with these 12.
- Hemp fabric is three times stronger than cotton but soft. The more you wash it, the softer it gets.
- Hemp clothing deters bacteria and mold growth, which means you can do without washing it frequently. No other fabric gives you the freedom to repeat wear it more than once. With the water crisis looming in the world, saving water is the way forward.
- This fabric is resistant to termite, chemical, and even fire.
- It is resistant to UV rays.
- This fabric blends with other natural and synthetic fibers.
- Retains cloth structure due to its low elasticity property.
- Hemp fabric softens with every wash but without any fiber degradation.
- This fabric boasts a longer lifespan than other natural fabrics.
- Hemp fabric is resistant to fading due to heat or sunlight.
- Fabric made from hemp has thermoregulation abilities. This means it is an all-season wear fabric. It keeps you cool (breathability) during the scorching heat and warm (insulation) during winters.
- Superior tensile strength, thus, hemp fabrics don’t wear, tear, or stretch easily.
- Hemp is compostable material. Hence, if your hemp clothing has reached the end of its life, scissor it and throw it in the compost pile.
Can Hemp Fabric Biodegrade?
Yes, hemp fabric is a biodegradable product.
Not only is it better in terms of harvesting, and productivity, but in biodegradability too. Hemp fabric decomposes within a few weeks or months depending on the blend with other fabrics.
This fabric goes back easily where it came from. Note that this is not the case with other fabrics. I have some interesting data points for you:
- Bamboo fabric biodegrades in a couple of years.
- The cotton fabric takes 2 – 5 months to decompose.
- Silk fabric can take more than 5 years to biodegrade.
- Jute fabric can take up to 3 years to decompose.
- Spandex, rayon, nylon, and other stretchy fabrics can take up to a couple of decades to a couple of centuries to biodegrade.
Hemp Can Slow Down This Environmental Disaster – Deforestation
Historically hemp was cultivated for paper production.
Interestingly, the first copies of the Holy Bible were also printed on hemp paper. However, once cannabis was declared illegal, forests were cleared to process paper again.
Deforestation has led to a major shift in the global climatic conditions and we may be skating on thin ice waiting for a catastrophe to happen.
How can hemp reduce deforestation?
Again, too many reasons. Here are 7 of them.
- Trees take years to grow until they can be harvested for wood or paper, but hemp plants are ready for harvesting within four months after they are planted.
- Trees require large tracts of land to grow on, but hemp plants can grow on small pieces of land suitable for harming.
- Hemp plants prevent soil erosion, and water pollution caused by soil runoff, but logging trees lead to both these environmental hazards.
- Wood pulp paper can be recycled only thrice, while hemp paper can be recycled at least 7-8 times.
- Cultivating hemp for paper can produce 5 – 10 times as much paper as trees can over a two-decade cycle. This is because hemp crops can be harvested several times a year, whereas wood pulp for paper would take decades to produce.
- Hemp fibers are 5 times longer than wood pulp and provide much higher tensile strength making it an ideal choice for paper.
- Wood pulp-based paper turns yellow after some time. But hemp paper is naturally acid-free and does not yellow quickly.
With such statistics in favour of hemp-based paper production, think of all those trees that were felled unnecessarily.
All those newspapers, notebooks, notepads, toilet rolls, and much more could have been processed from an environmentally friendly source like hemp. Unfortunately, wood pulp paper production also contributes 10% of the total CO2 emissions.
Cannabis sativa species are capable of capturing carbon from the environment making it clean and pollution-free. One ton of this plant can capture around 325kgs of carbon from the environment.
I wonder why we still haven’t moved the hemp way when it’s literally the path of least resistance towards a sustainable environment.
Hemp As A Food Product
Surprising but true.
Hemp protein can virtually produce any product made from soy such as milk, tofu, vegetable burger, cheese, salad oils, and much more. You can also grind hemp seeds to produce nutritious flour to bake goodies like cookies and bread.
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Last But Not The Least…
The most effective way to promote sustainability now is to reuse, recycle, and reduce our waste. And without a doubt, hemp is the ultimate resource to aid us in this journey.