Hemp – The Ultimate Sustainable Resource

By | September 14, 2009

hempHemp is an excellent natural sustainable resource used for many different uses including food, building materials, fabric, paper, fuel, and so on. Hemp could be one solution to many of the problems that are facing the modern world today, including deforestation, acid rain, the greenhouse effect, erosion, pollutants, starvation, and limited fossil fuels. Hemp production could also provide jobs and increased revenues to our many of our rural areas in this recession.

“Why use up the forests which were centuries in the making and the mines which required ages to lay down, if we can get the equivalent of forest and mineral products in the annual growth of the hemp fields?” – Henry Ford

Benefits of Hemp:

  • Hemp can be grown pesticide, herbicide, and fungicide free
  • Hemp is hypoallergenic
  • Hemp is 100% biodegradable
  • Hemp is a natural weed suppressor due to fast growth of the canopy

Uses & Facts About Hemp:

  • Plastic Products – Hemp can replace most toxic petrochemical products. Research is being done to use hemp in manufacturing biodegradable plastic products like, plant-based cellophane, recycled plastic mixed with hemp for injection-molded products, and resins made from the oil.
  • Food – Hemp seeds are nutritious and contains more essential fatty acids than any other source, is second only to soybeans in complete protein (but is more digestible by humans), is high in B-vitamins, and is a good source of dietary fiber. Hemp seeds are not psychoactive and cannot be used as a drug.
  • Fabric Products – Hemp fiber is among the Earth’s longest natural soft fibers. It is more absorbent, more durable, and  more insulative than cotton fiber. It is also flame retardant. Plus it uses less fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides to grow.
  • Paper – Hemp paper resists decomposition, and does not yellow with age when an acid-free process is used. It can also be recycled more times than wood-based paper. Hemp produces more pulp per acre than timber on a sustainable basis, and can be used for every quality of paper. Hemp paper manufacturing can reduce wastewater contamination. Hemp’s low lignin content reduces the need for acids used in pulping, and its creamy color lends itself to environmentally-friendly bleaching instead of harsh chlorine compounds. Less bleaching results in less dioxin and fewer chemical by-products.
  • Wood Products – Hemp fiberboard produced by Washington State University was found to be twice as strong as wood-based fiberboard. No additional resins are required due to naturally-occurring lignins.
  • Fuel – According to the Department of Energy, hemp as a biomass fuel producer requires the least specialized growing and processing procedures of all hemp products. The hydrocarbons in hemp can be processed into a wide range of biomass energy sources, from fuel pellets to liquid fuels and gas. Development of bio-fuels could significantly reduce our consumption of fossil fuels and nuclear power.

Historical Facts About Hemp:

  • Hemp is among the oldest industries on the planet, going back more than 10,000 years. The Columbia History of the World states that the oldest relic of human industry is a bit of hemp fabric dating back to approximately 8,000 BC.
  • George Washington & Thomas Jefferson both grew hemp.
  • The first American flag was made out of hemp.
  • Ben Franklin owned a mill that made hemp paper.
  • Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence on hemp paper.
  • Rembrandt & Van Gogh painted on hemp canvas.
  • The original heavy-duty Levi pants that were made for the California 49’ers were made of rugged hemp sailcloth and rivets.
  • In 1941, Henry Ford built a plastic car made of fiber from hemp and wheat straw. These days, BMW is reportedly working on its own set of wheels that replaces fiberglass matte with hemp.

6 thoughts on “Hemp – The Ultimate Sustainable Resource

  1. Pingback: Elephant Reviews: Sweet Skins: ecofashion makes life sweeter. | elephant journal

  2. chris

    The American people have been duped into keeping hemp food and hemp textiles illegal to grow. This should be a crime in itself. It hase been 17 years since I became the first American to grow hemp in 1994, Imperial Valley CA. No One has done this again ?

  3. Belinda

    Im researching the uses for hemp and found this info really helpful. Im quickly learning it is certainly a valuable natural resource.

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