As we all know time is ticking for humankind to correct our course when it comes to the environment. A Cannabis-connoisseur myself, I wondered how Hemp affects the environment & if it could be useful to help put us on the right path! What I found was surprising.
Hemp, & Cannabis plants in general, can play a vital role in the shift toward eco-friendly. For one, the plants act as a natural bioaccumulator. Meaning, they can absorb heavy metals & even radiation from contaminated soil! Hemp can also be used to make rope, paper, ‘plastic’, clothes, & even as a building material! Known as Hempcrete. When compared to traditional materials, Hemp is much more environmentally friendly, versatile, & sustainable.
The History of Hemp
In 1776, a very important piece of history was created. It’s a document called the Declaration of Independence. Signifying the United States’ independence from Great Britain. Elementary school stuff, I know.
But, did you know that it was actually written on Hemp paper?! That’s right. One of the most important documents in U.S. history was penned on paper made from our beloved Hemp plant!
Hemp used to flourish & has been referenced throughout history. Thomas Jefferson was quite the connoisseur himself, having numerous Hemp plants of his own. Often cited smoking Hemp for its therapeutic qualities.
Hemp paper was incredibly common. This is because it’s cheaper to make, is more durable, & it also requires minimal chemical processing. Hemp cultivation was cited as early as 2800 BCE. Originating in Asia, the plant quickly made its way throughout Europe & eventually to the U.S.
Historically it has been used for centuries. Mostly as material for things like clothing & sails, but also medicinally through smoking or by producing herbal remedies containing Hemp. So, what happened to Hemp?
Hemp vs. The “War on Drugs”
Fast forward to the year 1970. Richard Nixon & his cabinet launched a campaign better known as the War on Drugs. With this, they passed a law called the Controlled Substances Act. This immediately rendered Cannabis illegal in any form.
For over 40 years, this law remained in place. Unmodified & untouched, even as studies emerged showing the medicinal value of Cannabis. This didn’t seem to matter to the ruling parties. Cannabis plants were made completely illegal.
So, the production of Hemp products, be it paper or medicines, stopped. Putting a halt to the growth of Hemp, along with the rest of the Cannabis industry. Severely hurting the progress that was made & forever altering the future of Cannabis.
At this point, it’s openly admitted that the “War on Drugs” was nothing more than a ploy to incarcerate minorities & push an agenda of discrimination. A true stain on the history of America.
Jumping to the year 2014 & later on in 2018 two bills were introduced into Congress. These bills aimed to make the Hemp plant, along with products made from it, legal once again. Luckily, they passed! After nearly 50 years of prohibition, countless medical & scientific studies, & a general consensus among the population, Hemp was made federally legal.
Here’s why this is so important for the entire world:
Hemp Is Nature’s Janitor
Cannabis, as a whole, is extremely intriguing. Not just recreationally, but in a much bigger way. It’s almost unbelievable to read about the many different properties & potential benefits of the plant.
Cleaning up the environment is extremely important & Hemp is here to help. An eye-opening fact about Hemp/Cannabis is that the plants are natural bioaccumulators! You know exactly what that means, right?
Well, in case you don’t, this means that Hemp will actually absorb heavy metals, pesticides, & even radiation from contaminated soil! In fact, Cannabis plants were & are still being used to help clean up Chernobyl. A site that has been plagued by dangerously high levels of radiation for many years. They’re doing a great job, too!
In 2001, a group of German researchers confirmed that the Hemp plants being used at Chernobyl had been successful at extracting lead, cadmium, & nickel from the contaminated soil! Cleaning the earth up, one plant at a time. And, it doesn’t end there.
The Many Uses of Hemp
The word versatile might as well be a nickname for Hemp. Because it’s incredibly useful in an unbelievable amount of ways. There may be some 25,000+ uses for it!
As stated, Hemp paper is stronger, cheaper, & more environmentally friendly than wood-based paper. Hemp clothes tell the same story. Sails used on boats were made from Hemp for many years. It’s a durable, sustainable, & cheap material to use!
A bit lesser known uses are things like Hempcrete. A concrete mixture using Hemp as the main ingredient! That’s right, it can also be used to construct buildings & houses.
In 1941, Henry Ford made a fully functioning car, with the body being entirely made from Hemp! Hemp plastic is emerging as an alternative to typical plastics. Here’s a list of a few more uses for Hemp:
– Skin Products
– Animal Food
Hemp vs. Traditional Materials
So, that’s all fine & dandy, but how does it actually compare to the traditionally used materials? Is it worth making the switch to Hemp?
Looking at Hemp vs. Wood as material, Hemp emerges victorious. It’s much easier to produce due to the higher yield & invasive nature of the Cannabis plant. Producing paper or building material is not only cheaper but more environmentally conscious. Less processing means fewer chemicals, which means fewer emissions.
When it comes to Hempcrete vs. Concrete for construction, it’s a bit more complicated due to the current availability of Concrete vs. Hemp. But, looking at physical properties Hempcrete is fire-resistant, pest-resistant, mold-resistant, & can last a long time.
Comparing Hemp plastic to typical petroleum-based plastics, the former is 3.5x stronger & 5x stiffer. Making Hemp plastic more durable than typical plastics. It’s also much lighter in weight!
Traditional plastics take many years to degrade. Meanwhile, Hemp-based plastics can degrade in as little as 3-6 months! Also, plastics are typically toxic to humans. While Hemp plastic isn’t!
After digging a bit deeper into the environmental impacts of Hemp, the answer is clear. We need to start utilizing this plant much more than we are right now.
Opting for more sustainable ways to live is what we should be focusing on. Our planet needs our help to stay alive & with plants like Hemp, it is entirely possible to reverse the course, or at least delay it as much as possible.
We need to start expecting our world leaders & the biggest corporations to utilize these materials more. Opting for Hemp instead of using the traditional materials that are killing our planet.
Hemp & Cannabis as a whole has some incredible potential to help us steer in the right direction. From clothing & paper to plastic & concrete. This plant deserves a lot more attention than we’ve been giving it.