What’s So Great About Hemp?

Posted on August 20, 2007 by Allie

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Hemp is a touchy subject in this country. There’s an incorrect assumption that hemp and marijuana are the same thing. For the purpose of discussing hemp from an environmental perspective, let’s clear up some misinformation right off the bat.

Hemp and marijuana both come from the same species of plant (canabis sativa L.), but as Vote Hemp explains, it’s comparable to the way Chihuahuas and wolves are both members of the canis lupis species. The levels of THC (the substance that produces a high in marijuana) are so minimal in hemp (less than .3%) that it is not effective as a drug. And since the optimum growing conditions for hemp products would be detrimental to marijuana growth, concerns about hiding marijuana in hemp fields are unfounded.

So, hemp and marijuana are two different things, and what we’re discussing here is hemp. Hemp is a popular material for natural food stores and organic clothing manufacturers, but why?

It takes 800,000 gallons of water to grow an acre of cotton. And, according to Sustainable Spirit,

Almost half of the agricultural chemicals used on US crops are applied to cotton. Using over 275 million pounds of pesticides annually (in the U.S), along with fertilizers, growth regulators and biocides, cotton is one of the world’s most environmentally destructive crops.

Hemp, on the other hand, can often be grown with just rainwater in a variety of climates. It doesn’t usually require the use of pesticides or herbicides, and its root systems actually improve soil quality.

Hemp is used in textile production, and can make remarkably soft and durable fabrics and fine linens. Hemp can be used as a biofuel source, to make biodegradable plastics, and in a composite form as a a lighter, safer substitute to fiberglass.

Hemp oil is a concentrated source of omega-3 fatty acids, that can be taken without concern for mercury poisoning and other contaminates found in fish oil.

When hemp is used to make paper, the fibers are longer than the fibers in wood pulp, allowing hemp paper to be recycled several times more than wood paper. Hemp fields yield four times the fiber per acre that tree forests produce, but hemp only takes 6-8 months to reach maturity.

Hemp production used to be encouraged in the United States. During World War II, the U.S. Government produced a film called Hemp for Victory to encourage farmers to grow as much hemp as possible. Army uniforms, canvas, and rope were made from hemp.

While it’s legal to import hemp products, in 1970, the Controlled Substance Act made it illegal to cultivate hemp in the United States. It is technically possible to obtain a special permit to grow hemp in the U.S., but the cost of the required security measures would make it impossible to turn a profit from the crop. Canada, the United Kingdom, and Germany began allowing legal cultivation of industrial hemp in the 1990′s. In 2006, hemp was the most profitable crop for Canadian farmers.

Hopefully, with the growing popularity of hemp as an eco-friendly material, and the success of the hemp farming industries in Europe and Canada, the U.S. will again make it legal to cultivate industrial hemp. Growing industrial hemp in the U.S. could have a major positive impact on the environment, farming industry, and economy.

Source, Source, Source

10 Comments +

  1. [...] for a dress made from eco-friendly materials like bamboo or hemp. Here are a few places to start [...]

    May 8th, 2008 at 12:51 pm
    Pingback by Allie’s Answers » Blog Archive » Tip of the Day - Eco-Friendly Weddings: The Dress
  2. [...] For more information, check out Allie’s Answers post, What’s so Great about Hemp? [...]

    July 28th, 2008 at 3:05 pm
    Pingback by Why Hemp is Better « A Green Fire
  3. This is a great post (found it from your “favourite posts” list :)

    It’s amazing how many great hemp products are popping up. From lip-balms, to clothes, to milk, to deodorants… It is so versatile and eco-friendly.

    July 28th, 2008 at 9:44 pm
    Comment by julena
  4. Thanks for your comment julena! It really is amazing how much hemp can be used for. I wish it were easier to grow here. I think it could do wonderful things for our economy and the environment.

    July 29th, 2008 at 12:41 pm
    Comment by Allie
  5. [...] has hemp backpacks and messenger bags, and so does Rawganique.  Hemp is a renewable resource, improves the soil as it grows, and doesn’t require herbicides to grow [...]

    August 5th, 2008 at 5:47 pm
    Pingback by Allie’s Answers » Blog Archive » Tip of the Day - A Greener Backpack
  6. [...] Rawganique has a beautiful set of hemp sheets, but they are a little out of my price range.  If I’m going to pay 400 bucks for sheets, they better wash themselves and make the bed for me.  But they are beautiful.  And they are hemp. [...]

    August 25th, 2008 at 4:29 pm
    Pingback by Allie’s Answers » Blog Archive » Tip of the Day - Go for Green Sheets
  7. great blog!! thanks sooo much for posting this info ~ the more people know about hemp the easier it will be to get legalized in the US!! peace wendy (indie fiber artist who works with hemp)

    January 28th, 2009 at 6:04 pm
    Comment by wendy ritchey
  8. [...] about hemp all week and highlighting wonderful products made from hemp.  Stick around.  Check out the article I wrote on hemp in 2007 for more information, and visit VoteHemp.com’s action page to learn about ways you can [...]

    April 6th, 2009 at 3:15 pm
    Pingback by The Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2009
  9. Hemp is Fantastic!!!!!!!! I think people need to be more educated about it. Its ridicilous the way people have that tunnel vision about the subject. Don’t be ignorant……….LEARN ABOUT HEMP & ALL ITS GOOD FOR EVERYONE
    As far the other, I say lets get it legalized so we can put up with more BS that the goverment keeps throwing at us.
    thsnnnk

    August 29th, 2010 at 9:25 pm
    Comment by swampwitch
  10. My baby wears fitted hemp fleece diapers at night, and we stuff his pocket diapers with hemp during the day! They are incredibly absorbant (more than cotton alone) and soft! In diapers, hemp and cotton are combined together to create the ultimate soft, absorbant material! It washes clean, never smells, and of course he doesn’t get high from wearing hemp. It’s my favorite diaper material by far! Great post Allie!

    September 28th, 2010 at 2:45 pm
    Comment by Melissa

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If It Doesn’t Smell, Don’t Wash It

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According to Real Simple, if every American made an effort to launder less — cutting out just one load of laundry a week per household — we’d save enough water to fill seven million swimming pools each year.

So if it looks clean, and it smells clean, call it clean and wear it again. Consider hanging worn clothes out on your clothesline to freshen them up between wearings.


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