Climate change is one of the biggest issues we are facing today - as our population grows, so does the demand for key resources such as food and energy. Agriculture and deforestation represent about a third of greenhouse gas emissions and are significant contributors to global warming. If we can reduce this carbon footprint and choose more sustainable solutions, we can limit the negative impact they are having on our planet.
The good news is that there are alternatives to the way we produce and consume on a global scale and hemp is one of them. As one of the most versatile and useful plants on earth, hemp can replace less sustainable raw materials such as pulp, fiber, protein, cellulose, oil, or biomass in over 25,000 different products. And, it can replace them in a clean and environmentally friendly way. Here’s how.
Hemp Is A Clean, Green Crop
Unlike most other agricultural crops, hemp doesn’t need pesticides or herbicides, and requires less water than other crops to grow. In addition, as it grows it replenishes the earth by absorbing pollutants found in the soil and neutralizing heavy metals through its complex root system. It is a carbon negative raw material that has the power to undo decades of environmental damage.
Also, its rapid growth in a variety of climates and soil types, allows farmers to enjoy high yields while making a positive impact on worldwide climate change.
Hemp Can Make Everyday Products More Sustainable
Paper: Approximately 42% of all global wood harvested is used to make paper and of all that paper, 93% of it comes from trees. Trees that take 50 – 100 years to mature while hemp only needs about 100 days. Moreover, hemp can produce 4 – 10 times more per acre than paper pulp and can be recycled twice as much, meaning fewer forests need to be cut down in order to supply our modern demands.
Fiber: Hemp fiber is a more sustainable and eco-friendly option compared to more popular fibers, like cotton. According to the World Wildlife Organization, cotton’s most prominent environmental impacts result from the use of chemicals (especially pesticides), the consumption of water, and the conversion of habitat to agricultural use. Whereas hemp produces twice as much fiber per acre, requires half the water, and is four times more durable than cotton. Clearly, a more viable solution.
Biodiesel: Did you know that hemp has the ability to serve as a renewable fuel source? The oil from its seeds can be utilized to supply clean energy and with high efficiency. Graduate students from the University of Connecticut produced hemp biodiesel with 97% of the hemp oil converted to biodiesel. Perhaps with more research and education, hemp will play a significant role in replacing fossil fuels (non-renewable resources), which account for 87% of all human-produced carbon dioxide emissions.
So yes, mother Earth can most certainly benefit from hemp. But is the world ready for it yet?
Sadly, because of its affiliation with the marijuana plant, hemp has many barriers to overcome. Just the word “hemp” carries a stigma that can cause people to disregard, or even fear it, making it difficult to educate individuals or obtain approval for large-scale research and studies. Until more money is devoted to developing the hemp industry, it is up to grassroots organizations, farmers, environmentalists, and consumers to lead the way.
How can you help?
By spreading awareness about hemp and its incredible benefits through social media and word of mouth, and increasing the demand for hemp-based products, you can send a powerful message to large industries and government that you demand better, sustainable alternatives. At the same time, you’ll be rewarding brave entrepreneurs who are standing up to baseless governmental controls.