Hemp - grows high, very fast; but it doesn't make you high! However, it does make you healthy and eco-friendly and our planet Earth happy :)
A long, long time ago people started eating hemp's seeds. As these seeds are rich with unsaturated fatty acids that contain an optimal 1:4 ratio of omega-3 to 6, people started getting smart. As a result of being smart, they started using hemp stalk to produce textile fiber. Archeologists have found the remains of hemp cloth in ancient Mesopotamia which dates back to around 8000 BC! For centuries hemp played a very important role in the development of society: it was used to make the 600-year-old Gutenberg Bible, to make sails for ships that traded around the world. At one point it was illegal for farmers in England not to grow it!
Then, at the beginning of the 20th century, something happened (likely some important people didn't eat hemp seeds) and hemp was confused with its cousin plant called Marijuana. To avoid this confusion to be made by everyone else, those important, but not well-informed people banned both hemp and marijuana, making cultivation, transportation, and sales of hemp and hemp products illegal or very difficult to do. There is also another conspiracy theory according to which hemp was banned because cotton producers were lobbying for it (another group of people that didn't eat enough hemp seeds). Ban on hemp spread globally with political pressure from the US.
Since then we entered into the "knowledge" era, which naturally brought hemp back! It is not surprising knowing how generous hemp plant is:
- seeds can be used as a food supplement (which makes people smarter), to make a biofuel (called hempoline), paint, to produce beer, body care products, etc.
- the stalk can be used to produce textiles, insulation, ropes, paper, organic compost, building material (called hempcrete), biodegradable plastic, etc.
- leaves, flowers, and roots can be used in medicine.
Hemp is not only a generous plant from the aspect of its uses. It is at the same time very environmentally friendly plant. Hemp is becoming more and more important as humans are waking up in front of the climate and ecological emergency we have created.
Industrial hemp has been scientifically proven to absorb more CO2 per hectare (22 tonnes, or 44 if there are two cops per year) than any forest or commercial crop and is, therefore, the ideal carbon sink. In addition, the CO2 is permanently bonded within the fiber that is used for anything from textiles to paper and as a building material.
The production of Hemp fibre is carbon negative, which means it absorbs more carbon from the atmosphere during its growth than is emitted by the equipment used to harvest, process and transport it.
Hemp is well known for its durability, which is very important for us at Ethicuette, as we are making clothes that will last for generations. Over time and with use, hemp garments grow softer, while maintaining their strength.
Hemp is also naturally antimicrobial and antibacterial, which is a crucial trait now when we have to be careful not to overuse antibiotics.
It is not only that microbes don't like hemp, but pesticides, herbicides and fungicides as well. Hemp can be grown without using any pesticides, herbicide or fungicides, which makes this crop much cleaner and eco friendlier compared to cotton.
Another positive aspect of hemp is its use of water. Hemp requires half the amount of water required by cotton and yields 250% more fibre than cotton. As a result, hemp doesn't contribute to earth's erosion, as cotton does.
According to testing done by Wama, Hemp material is the best natural fabric to protect you from harmful ultraviolet sunlight, holding close to 100% of UV-A and UV-B rays. If you know that typical sunblock contains harmful chemicals such as Oxybenzone, Avobenzone, Cylcopentasiloxane, and others, using a natural option that is equally or even more effective is the best choice you can make.
Hemp grows very high, very fast: 4 meters in 100 days. This makes it a pioneer plant to be used for land reclamation and even phytoremediation ("cleaning" the land polluted by heavy metals). As it doesn't need any fertilizers (it is a weed), it is safe to plant it near the water.
So, let's use hemp!
With all its properties, hemp fabric seems to be irreplaceable for slow fashion initiatives to reach its full potential. A sustainable fashion brand is a brand that uses hemp fabric, the same as an ethical fashion brand is a brand that uses hemp fabric.
Despite all of the benefits, it is still difficult to use hemp, especially in Europe. We will write more about it in one of our next stories.
Send us an email if you would like to be notified once that story is published. Until then, go for sustainable fashion, always read the label, and then choose not to buy plastic, especially single-use plastic, especially micro-plastics!