Hemp Fibre Production, Uses, and Benefits
Hemp has been cultivated for millennia for its many uses. The plant may have been first discovered as many as 8,000 years ago. Since then, it has proven useful for its reliability, utility, and insulation properties. While it was temporarily banned in much of the world for its association with its intoxication-inducing cannabis cousins, it is regaining popularity for its environmentally friendly properties.
Hemp has always been a great material for creating food, oil, construction materials, and textiles. While the crop has been on a bit of a hiatus, it’s quickly making a return. Many of its benefits are especially welcome in the modern world.
Let’s have a closer look at the modern uses and benefits of this timeless crop.
Hemp fabric has been used to manufacture clothing for most of its history in cultivation. Modern hemp-based clothing is also regaining popularity. Cannabis enthusiasts started embracing it as something of a novelty. But now, hemp fabric is gaining popularity due to the broader environmental movement. In particular, supporters of the sustainable clothing movement find a lot to love about hemp.
Hemp can be used to manufacture environmentally friendly clothing and other fabrics. Right now, you can find hemp…
- Shirts, pants, skirts, and jackets
- Table cloths
Hemp is a relatively cheap material for certain building purposes. The main material hemp is a great replacement for is wood. Hemp is both cheaper to produce and more environmentally friendly. In addition, hemp offers better insulation than wood.
Paper is one of those materials that we have an infinite need for, no matter how bad we feel about it. Right now, about 93% of paper is made from trees.
Wood pulp for the creation of paper is one of the drivers of deforestation.
Throughout history, paper production has been one of hemp’s main uses. In fact, most paper used to be made from plants.
Recycling paper from trees is part of the solution, but it’s hard to recycle paper, which is why the US EPA estimates only 68.2% of it gets recycled.
Hemp is a versatile crop that can serve as a cash crop (partial) replacement for trees. It’s of course easier to cultivate than trees, and it produces raw materials that can be manufactured into quality paper.
Oil extracted from hemp has several medicinal uses. This is in large part due to the anti-inflammatory properties of hemp. These properties help treat multiple conditions, including:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Digestive issues
Unlike its cannabis cousins, hemp does not produce intoxicating ingredients in the quantities required to induce unsafe levels of intoxication.
Ropes & Cords
Hemp fibre has excellent tensile strength. That’s why one of its traditional uses has been manufactured ropes and cords.
No environmentally friendly alternative makes ropes that match the quality of hemp. While you can make environmentally friendly rope out of jute fibres and coconut fibres, both of them lack the durability of hemp.
How Is Hemp Better?
Hemp is the more environmentally friendly method across the board. It’s also durable, and the best hemp products are meant to last. When you consider any of the major environmental challenges of our time, hemp is the best alternative.
Manufacturing products hemp can be used for with other materials has a larger carbon footprint. Take polyester clothing, for example. Polyester has a carbon footprint of 5.5KG for just one shirt. That’s over twice that of cotton (2.2KG).
As a crop, hemp absorbs carbon dioxide before cultivation. A hectare of hemp can absorb up to 22 tonnes of carbon dioxide.
When you compare hemp to synthetic fibres, the difference in carbon output and renewability is clear.
Hemp is a part of the “fast fashion” industry, as hemp clothing can be produced, discarded, and recycled rapidly. The material is durable and can last a long time (more on that soon), but once it’s finally time to discard it, the material is renewable. Hemp is a recyclable resource that is more environmentally friendly than crops like cotton.
The great thing about hemp clothing is that if you go 100% hemp, your clothes are 100% recyclable. Some hemp clothing is manufactured under the Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certification. This certification signifies that only organic chemicals that are 100% recyclable are used in production.
Even if you don’t recycle hemp, whether clothing or anything else, it is also biodegradable. That means that hemp naturally degrades so that it doesn’t pollute the planet.
The sustainability of hemp goes hand-in-hand with its renewability. The cultivation of the hemp crop and manufacturing of hemp products both create a highly sustainable alternative.
To start, hemp uses less water to grow than most crops. Water usage is a growing issue globally, with agricultural land disappearing and worries surrounding “water wars” where farmers must compete over disappearing water sources.
Compared to crops that create products similar to hemp, hemp is the water-saver. Take cotton, one of the most desired materials in clothing. The problem with cotton is that it requires heavy irrigation to grow normally. Hemp, on the other hand, can thrive without heavy irrigation. Hemp also requires fewer chemicals to avoid erosion.
Even when we try to recycle recyclable materials, we often fall far short of our lofty goals. Of course, this doesn’t mean that we should give up on recycling. But if we have the option of a 100% renewable material that is ALSO highly durable, why wouldn’t we choose it?
Hemp is breathable and easy on your skin. It’s simple to dye and it absorbs sweat well. After being dyed, hemp is naturally resistant to fading and is not as abrasive as other coming clothing materials.
When you wash hemp clothing, it continues to keep its shape, and it just slowly becomes softer. It’s also already more resistant to mould and mildew.
Hemp is a versatile and environmentally friendly crop with no match. That’s why it’s been cultivated and used for so long. With the current environmental challenges affecting everyone around the world, hemp is an even more attractive crop.