Currently, our world is in the middle of an environmental crisis. With climate change wreaking havoc across the globe and causing distress for so many communities, people everywhere are looking for alternative, more sustainable lifestyle choices. Thankfully, we’re beginning to learn that hemp may be our saving grace.
The hemp plant was federally legalized for cultivation back in 2018, though it has been around for thousands of years. During some of civilization’s earliest times, hemp was being utilized for building materials, paper, and so much more. So, why have we strayed from these sustainable times? Now that the plant is legal, appreciating its versatility is easier (and more important) than ever.
Rope is one of the world’s most versatile fibers, with its strength and durability being utilized for a myriad of different reasons. Now, however, people are beginning to turn to hemp rope to use for building materials, clothing items, and so much more.
While this type of rope is just as durable as regular rope, it is significantly more sustainable. Hemp, in general, is biodegradable and compostable, so there’s absolutely no waste when you’re finished using it. Its fibers are extremely strong and able to withstand pretty extreme weights and tension, though it isn’t quite as flexible as regular rope. Regardless, hemp’s renewability makes it a clearer, more ethical choice.
Hemp as a Fuel Source
With the number of cars on the road growing day by day, it’s becoming vital for us to find more sustainable alternative fuel sources. Right now, conventional gasoline fuel is one of the world’s leading contributing factors to climate change and air pollution. Though we’re seeing an influx of electric cars, there is still an overwhelming amount of fuel-powered cars, trucks, and SUVs that directly produce greenhouse gases when burnt.
Biodiesel, on the other hand, is more sustainable, but this type of fuel source comes straight from food crops which can directly impact our food sources and availability. In a time where many are experiencing dangerous food deserts, options like biodiesel simply aren’t feasible. Hemp biofuel, however, may be able to solve this issue.
Hemp biofuel or biodiesel is completely plant-based like traditional biodiesel, only hemp isn’t strictly a food crop. While hemp’s seeds can easily be enjoyed for nutritional value, this isn’t its main use, making it an ideal option for a fuel source. The plant is easily and quickly grown with little water and zero pesticides, making its production quite harmless to the environment. In fact, hemp produces far more oxygen than the typical tree, so the more hemp we grow to be used as biofuel, the purer our air becomes.
Researchers are definitely not disregarding this idea, with tests being conducted to ensure hemp’s ability to produce viable fuel. One study conducted showed that 97% of hemp oil was able to be converted directly into biodiesel and demonstrated all of the typical characteristics of gasoline. With hemp finally being federally legalized, the continued research toward hemp as an alternative fuel source will only grow.
Not only can hemp be used as a fuel source, but it can also be used as a durable, sustainable building material for homes and commercial buildings. Termed “hempcrete,” this biocomposite material can be used to create structures of all kinds without worrying about toxicity. Replacing potentially harmful insulation, hempcrete can be utilized to line walls of your home or business, all while being completely renewable and reliable.
Hempcrete has various unique properties that make it edge its way ahead of traditional foundation-building materials. Building structures with hempcrete requires three times less heat to produce than concrete. Resistant to pollutants like mold, producing low-humidity, and effortlessly maintaining internal temperatures, hempcrete is an almost unparalleled building material. As a whole, hempcrete’s carbon footprint looks tiny compared to limestone concrete.
When comparing hemp to cotton, hemp’s sustainability is clear. Hemp fibers are some of the strongest on the planet, and when woven into fabrics to create clothing, the quality that these fibers produce is unmatched. Along with being more durable than cotton, hemp fibers are more insulating and absorbent. A little water is no issue for hemp clothing, and the dyes in the fabric stay brighter than ever before--even after a few washes.
Though hemp may not be as comfortable as cotton during first wear, it becomes softer after each wash but doesn’t lose its shape. You won’t notice your shirts starting to stretch as they get worn; instead, they’ll only become more comfortable. Not to mention, you won’t feel guilty at all wearing hemp clothing, as their environmental impact is so insignificant: it grows quickly and without much water, grows densely, and even reduces soil pollution.
Hemp paper is something that has been utilized for centuries. Because of its popularity at the time, as well as its incredible durability, the famous Declaration of Independence was drafted on hemp paper, and it was continually utilized until the 1900s. As a document hoped to last seemingly forever, the use of hemp paper says a lot about this all-encompassing material.
As you can imagine, hemp paper is also a more sustainable resource than traditional paper. With paper coming from trees that can take decades to grow and mature, the process has been, and continues to be, detrimental to our environment. Hemp plants, on the other hand, can be grown in huge quantities in a matter of months with ease. The combination of sustainability, durability, and versatility reminds us why hemp paper was so widely popular in the first place.
Hemp to the Rescue?
Utilizing hemp for all it has to offer can have a huge, positive impact on our planet. As we’ve learned, not only can the plant help reduce deforestation and carbon dioxide, but it may also be able to help our global warming as a whole. Incredibly, these are only some of hemp’s uses, with the plant being utilized in more ways than any other crop on the planet. The more that we use hemp as a renewable resource, the more our planet will thank us, providing us with a healthy, thriving world to live in.