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What is hemp?

Written by Danielle Stewart

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Posted on April 22 2020

Hey guys! Thanks so much for making it over to our blog! I am always going on about the benefits of hemp and how great it is for the environment. I get so many questions about what it is and how it comes about so I thought I'd compile it all into a blog post. I will start with the question I get asked the most...

Is it legal?

Yes! Hemp is legal! It often gets mistaken for its close cousin marijuana. They belong to the same family but are different plants. The marijuana plant contains the psychoactive component THC whereas Hemp contains very little, less than 0.3 per cent. In other words, Hemp cannot get you 'high'. The Hemp plant is longer, skinnier and is bread for its long, strong fibres.

 

Hemp cultivation

What can Hemp be used for?

Hemp can be used in an incredible amount of ways and has been used for centuries! It can be used as food, for example, the seeds are full of protein and are a great source of nutrition. They can also be pressed and made into delicious hemp milk. Industrial hemp is used as incredibly durable building material to build houses and other large structures, it even gets stronger over time. 

The first ford car was made from Hemp plastic and ran off biofuel! Hemp plastic is said to be the material of the future, with modern-day car manufacturers such as BMW, Mercedes and Bugatti using it on their door panels! 

Hemp can be made into Paper, made into jewellery, used for animal bedding, soil purification, biofuels and much more!

 

Hemp fibre

Hemp in History

Hemp has been cultivated for thousands of years, one of the oldest relics in human history is a piece of Hemp fabric found in China believed to be 8000 years old! Traces of hemp cloth have been found in Mesopotamia and hemp seeds and oil were used in China around 6000BC. 

It is believed that Columbus had hemp fibre sails and rope on three of his boats when they first arrived in America. The first two drafts of the Declaration of Independence were also written on Hemp paper.

 

How does hemp benefit the environment?

Hemp is one of the most sustainable natural materials on earth. It uses half as much land and half as much water as cotton to produce the same yield. It grows incredibly fast and requires no pesticides or insecticides meaning that it is super safe to eat and kind to our skin. Hemp can be grown on the same land for 12 years and helps to put nutrients back into the soil instead of drying it up. It was even used at Chernobyl to extract toxins from the soil!

 

Quick Hemp Facts:

  • The US encouraged Hemp cultivation during the war, it was essential for rope, tents and sails.
  • Hemp can produce 4x the amount of paper trees can - and it only takes 4 months!
  • The word 'Canvas' comes from Cannabis
  • Hemp seeds are more nutritious than Flax or Chia
  • It was legal to pay taxes with Hemp in America from 1631 until the early 1800s
  • In 1938 Hemp was called a 'Billion Dollar Crop', it was the first time a cash crop could potentially exceed a billion dollars.

 

Hemp drying

Image: Drying hemp fibre

Hemp is an unbelievable crop and it is going to be making a massive comeback as we make the switch to more sustainable alternatives. It is one of the most eco-friendly materials out there! I hope to make another blog post soon about how hemp fibre is made and give you an insight into the making of our clothing and bags! 

See you all soon!

Danielle x 

 

About the Author - Danielle

 Hey! My name is Danielle and I am a photographer from Scotland! I am passionate about travel, food, art and music! I created Niyama.co to help spread the message of sustainability and ethical fashion! Find me on: IG- @danielle_stewart_
Sources:
https://naturalfiber-nepal.com/hemp-farming-in-nepal/
https://hashmuseum.com/en/the-plant/industrial-hemp/hemp-based-plastic
https://thegreenfund.com/the-history-of-hemp
https://listverse.com/2009/04/15/15-fascinating-facts-about-hemp/

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