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Written by Blair Berson   
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Thursday, 27 October 2011

Hemp Uses

What is Hemp? Hemp is a plant of the Cannibus genus that can be grown in a large range of soil types, however it grows best in nitrogen-rich and non-acidic soil. Most importantly, hemp is one of the strongest fibers in the world! Luckily, it also grows quickly with very low pesticide usage, making it one of the more sustainable materials available Hemp fiber is also very durable and absorbent.1

Hemp seed oil is very high in essential fatty acids and very low in saturated fats. The fiber, which is also called bast, is the exterior part of the plant that is used for a multitude of purposes including clothing fabric, nutritional products such as hemp milk, tofu, grains, and seeds, as well as industrial products. For example, hemp in combination with lime, create a concrete-like quality used as insulating material for construction.2 Being an eco-friendly material, hemp can be used in place of products that prove to be more detrimental to our environment.3

Where is Hemp Grown? Interestingly enough, it is illegal to grow hemp in the United States of America because it is prohibited under the marijuana prohibition act.4 Hemp is produced in and exported from China, Russia, Germany, England, Spain, France, the Netherlands, Australia, and more recently in Canada, and hemp-based products can be imported into the United States.

What is Hemp Used to Make? There are three main components to industrial hemp including the seeds, fiber, and hurds.

Hemp seeds are an environmentally friendly substitute for a wide range of products including food, cosmetics, soaps and paints. Oil from the hemp seed contains a high amount of polyunsaturated fats which contain the very healthy fatty acids linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid. In addition, the hemp seed contains a special fatty acid gamma-linolenic acid which has been shown to help with ailments such as arthritis.5 The hemp seed oil can be used as an environmentally friendly chemical agent in the production of biodiesel , soaps, paints and varnishes.6

Hemp fiber, as previously mentioned is extremely strong and absorbent, therefore it is a great eco-friendly substitute textile material used in place of cotton, rope, canvas, and other more toxic fibers and building materials such as fiberglass and recycled plastic .7

Hemp hurds are the stalky core of the hemp plant that can be used in place of paper, chemicals, plastics, and a variety of fuels. In essence, the entirety of the hemp plant can be used in order to produce more environmentally sound products.

Currently, there are many companies involved in the use of hemp to make t-shirts, hoodies, hats, gloves and even underwear. It is important to be able to have hemp as an alternative to cotton seeing as an enormous amount of chemicals and pesticides are needed to grow cotton. Even organic cotton has its drawbacks. Hemp, on the other hand, as previously mentioned, can be grown in a wide range of climates and requires much smaller amounts of fertilizer and pesticides than most other crops.8

Hemp Benefits: Hemp can help to reduce the high rate of deforestation in the world because it can be used in place of wood fiber. Large amounts of hemp can be grown in a small area—one acre of land can yield 3-8 dry tons of fiber, which is around four times the amount a forest yields.9 In addition, hemp grows incredibly quickly. It takes about four months to grow hemp while it takes many years for trees to grow.10 Worldwide, we cut down about four billion trees per year for paper products, which can be anything from tissue paper to electrical plugs. In the United States alone we use around 187 billion pounds of paper per year.11 Imagine how many trees we would save, not to mention the wildlife living in the forests we demolish, if we implemented the use of hemp fiber in more of our paper products!

The continued utilization of hemp as an environmentally friendly product could result in the additional uses for hemp such as in road, highway, and bridge building materials, and even in cars! Cars made out of the industrial hemp material could prove to be much stronger than steel and even weigh a significant amount less.12 Even more significant is the fact that if cars were made out of industrial hemp, the material could be recycled and the breakdown of the old cars made from hemp would yield a much lower carbon footprint than current automobiles made out of steel headed to the junk yard.

The hemp plant has the potential to become the product of the future. It is easy to grow, can thrive in a variety of soils, and requires very low amounts of fertilizer and pesticides. All parts of the plant can be used and it can be grown within the very short period of only four months. It is durable and can be used for a multitude of purposes including food, clothing, paper, fuel, and building materials. Perhaps one day we will even be able to make cars out of this eco-friendly product. There are many groups focused on getting hemp production legalized in the US, and if you are interested in this effort check outthis online petition and be a part of the movement to get hemp made in the USA!

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Last Updated ( Thursday, 27 October 2011 )


Green Facts

  • It takes 6,000,000 trees to make 1 year's worth of tissues for the world.

  • Current sea ice levels are at least 47% lower than they were in 1979.

  • A tree that provides a home with shade from the sun can reduce the energy required to run the air conditioner and save an additional 200 to 2,000 pounds of carbon over its lifetime.

  • Americans throw away enough aluminum to rebuild our entire commercial fleet of airplanes every 3 months

  • A single quart of motor oil, if disposed of improperly, can contaminate up to 2,000,000 gallons of fresh water.

  • Due to tiger poaching, habitat destruction, and other human-tiger conflicts, tigers now number around 3,200—a decrease in population by about 70% from 100 years ago.

  • Americans throw away more than 120 million cell phones each year, which contribute 60,000 tons of waste to landfills annually.

  • Less than 1% of electricity in the United States is generated from solar power.

  • 77% of people who commute to work by car drive alone.

  • Turning off the tap when brushing your teeth can save as much as 10 gallons a day per person.

  • Recycling 1 million laptop computers can save the amount of energy used by 3,657 homes in the U.S. over the course of a year.

  • You will save 100 pounds of carbon for each incandescent bulb that you replace with a compact fluorescent bulb (CFL), over the life of the bulb.

  • Glass can be recycled over and over again without ever wearing down.

  • Shaving 10 miles off of your weekly driving pattern can eliminate about 500 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions a year.

  • For every 38,000 bills consumers pay online instead of by mail, 5,058 pounds of greenhouse gases are avoided and two tons of trees are preserved.

  • You’ll save two pounds of carbon for every 20 glass bottles that you recycle.

  • A laptop consumes five times less electricity than a desktop computer.

  • 82 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. come from burning fossil fuels.

  • Bamboo absorbs 35% more carbon dioxide than equivalent stands of trees.

  • The World Health Organization estimates that 2 million people die prematurely worldwide every year due to air pollution.

  • Recycling 100 million cell phones can save enough energy to power 18,500 homes in the U.S. for a year.

  • States with bottle deposit laws have 35-40% less litter by volume.

  • Washing your clothes in cold or warm instead of hot water saves 500 pounds of carbon dioxide a year, and drying your clothes on a clothesline six months out of the year would save another 700 pounds.

  • One recycled aluminum can will save enough energy to run a 100-watt bulb for 20 hours, a computer for 3 hours, or a TV for 2 hours.

  • Plastic bags and other plastic garbage thrown into the ocean kill as many as 1,000,000 sea creatures every year.

  • Recycling aluminum saves 95% of the energy used to make the material from scratch.

  • Recycling for one year at Stanford University saved the equivalent of 33,913 trees and the need for 636 tons of iron ore, coal, and limestone.

  • If every U.S. household turned the thermostat down by 10 degrees for seven hours each night during the cold months, and seven hours each weekday, it would prevent nearly gas emissions.

  • American workers spend an average of 47 hours per year commuting through rush hour traffic. This adds up to 23 billion gallons of gas wasted in traffic each year.

  • In California homes, about 10% of energy usage is related to TVs, DVRs, cable and satellite boxes, and DVD players.

  • Americans use 100 million tin and steel cans every day.

  • In the United States, automobiles produce over 20 percent of total carbon emissions. Walk or bike and you'll save one pound of carbon for every mile you travel.

  • You will save 300 pounds of carbon dioxide for every 10,000 miles you drive if you always keep your car’s tires fully inflated.

  • Refrigerators built in 1975 used 4 times more energy than current models.

  • Rainforests are being cut down at the rate of 100 acres per minute.

  • A steel mill using recycled scrap reduces related water pollution, air pollution, and mining wastes by about 70%.

  • Nudge your thermostat up two degrees in the summer and down two degrees in the winter to prevent 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere.

  • An aluminum can that is thrown away instead of recycled will still be a can 500 years from now!

  • Every week about 20 species of plants and animals become extinct.