As the world becomes more environmentally conscious, the demand for sustainable clothing has increased. One fabric that has gained popularity in recent years is industrial hemp, which is known for its durability, versatility, and eco-friendliness. In this section, we will explore the sustainability of hemp fabric, focusing on its carbon-negative farming, low input requirements, no industrial waste byproducts, soil bioremediation, and organic hemp fiber production.
Carbon Negative Farming
One of the most significant benefits of industrial hemp farming is its carbon-negative nature. Hemp crops absorb more carbon from the atmosphere than they release, making them an ideal “carbon sink.” When hemp grows, it engages in a process called carbon sequestration, which means it draws in CO2 from the air and stores it in its fibers. For every ton of hemp produced, about 1.62 tons of CO2 are removed from the air. This characteristic makes hemp a superhero in the fight against climate change.
Low Input Requirements
Compared to other sustainable fabrics like organic cotton, hemp requires much less water and fewer chemical inputs. According to the Stockholm Environment Institute, the water required to produce 1kg of hemp is between 300 and 500 liters, while it takes 10,000 liters to produce the same amount of cotton. Additionally, hemp is high-yielding and produces much more product on much less land, without the need for any chemical pesticides. Hemp’s growth is quick, taking around just 120 days to become the stalk that gets turned into sustainable jeans, and the land can be reused every couple of years, something that takes much longer with flax or cotton.
No Industrial Waste Byproducts
Another significant advantage of hemp is that almost every part of the plant can be utilized, making it a highly resource-efficient crop. From the hemp plant, we can get textiles for clothing, hemp oil for beauty and sustainable skincare products, paper, seeds for nutrition, fibers for construction materials, animal bedding, vehicle biofuel, and even a plastic substitute for vehicles themselves. This versatility and resource efficiency allow for over 25,000 industrial uses, making hemp a valuable crop in the sustainable fashion industry.
Hemp cultivation not only benefits humans but also the earth. The process of growing organic hemp fabric can actually replenish soil nutrients and improve soil health. As a hemp plant grows, it naturally detoxifies the soil by absorbing heavy metals and purifying contaminants. This cleansing action leaves the soil in better condition than it was before, making hemp a sustainable crop that helps to heal the earth.
Organic Hemp Fiber Production
While hemp requires very little to nothing by way of herbicides and pesticides, it has been known to require more nitrogen (fertilizer) than other textiles. However, seeking out organic hemp fabrics, or those that are USDA National Organic Program (NOP) or Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified, can help mitigate this issue. After the 2018 Farm Bill legalized the cultivation of hemp in the United States and removed it from the list of controlled substances, it became legal for industrial hemp (containing less than 0.3% THC by dry weight) to receive USDA organic certification. This bill also allows states to regulate hemp production and sales within their borders, leading to a growing number of hemp fabric wholesalers. By choosing organic hemp fabrics, consumers can ensure that their clothing is not only sustainable but also free from harmful chemicals.
In conclusion, hemp fabric is a sustainable option for clothing that offers many benefits, including carbon-negative farming, low input requirements, no industrial waste byproducts, soil bioremediation, and organic hemp fiber production. Its versatility and durability make it a valuable crop in the sustainable fashion industry, and its resource efficiency makes it a superhero in the fight against climate change.