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The Environmental Benefits of Hemp
There are many plants that are used for fibres, oils, and biomass but hemp seems to be far superior in many ways. If we used hemp in replacement of wood paper, plastics,and biomass (fuel) we could greatly diminish our excessive output of CO2,greatly reduce toxins and chemicals put into our soil and waterways, and help reverse the environmental damage caused by pollution and deforestation. From growing, to harvesting and manufacturing, hemp is an ecological marvel.
Hemp is easy to grow, requires no or very little pesticides or herbicides, and can grow in almost any clim ate or soil. It permanently removes CO2 from the air and puts most of what it absorbs back in to the soil to replenish it. Reaching 20 feet or more in a single growing season(approx. 110 days), hemp is a perfect rotation crop for farmers to help and keep their soil healthy between harvesting and sowing.
In an annual rotation over a 20 year period one acre of cannabis hemp would produce as much pulp for paper as 4.1 acres of trees according to the 1916, USDA Bulletin No. 404. Choosing hemp paper over wood paper would dramatically help deforestation. We wouldn’t have to wait decades for the trees to grow and this would also help our planet replenish its top soil (the “skin” of our planet)that we require to grow our food in. Decades of fallen leaves, twigs and other organic matter is what creates our Earths top soil and it’s not something we can get back quick and easily once gone. Growing hemp in replacement of wood for paper would also help reduce the need for bleaches and other toxic chemicals to make paper, further helping eroded soils and our poisoned waterways.
Pulp isn’t the only part of the plant that can be utilised, the whole plant can. From the seeds, strong fibre, the hurd (the woody inner core), and the leaves not a single part of this plant is wasted unlike other plants.
Hemp fibre is one of the strongest fibres on the planet. The hemp fibre bundles are up to15 feet long while plants like cotton only produce fibres approximately three-quarters of an inch in length. In comparison to one another, hemp has up to 8 times the tensile strength and four times the durability of cotton. Hemp fabric is antibacterial, fast absorbing and drying and is the perfect fibre for clothing. Hemp fabric wears in not out, and gets softer the more you wash and wear it. Even more importantly growing hemp for fibre requires no pesticides or herbicides unlike cotton which is reportedly responsible for up to 26% of the world’s pesticide use.
On top of the list of hemps amazing environmental attributes is hemp fuel (biomass).Virtually any organic matter or plants biomass can be converted to fuel, known as biofuels. The burning of fossil fuels is what produces CO2 (carbon dioxide)and puts this harmful toxin into our atmosphere. Hemp fuel would be incredibly beneficial to our environment and atmosphere as through photosynthesis, hemp would convert water and the carbon into oxygen. We would essentially be recycling the gases and reversing the primary cause of global warming. The plants biomass can be used for fuel, hemp seed oil for engine lubrication, and fibre for fibreglass and upholstery. Yes, almost an entire car can be made from and to run on hemp. Not only will hemp help clean up our atmosphere we would be harvesting a new source of fuel every year rather than depleting fossil fuels that cannot replenish itself as quickly as we are depleting them.