You may be wondering why you would choose clothing or other items made from hemp over items made from "traditional" fabrics.
For one thing, hemp is as traditional a fabric as you can find. The hemp plant is the oldest cultivated fiber plant known, with a history of use in textiles and fabrics dating back as far as 8000 BC. The reasons for hemp's continued popularity throughout ten millennia are still applicable today, and are the basis for the renewed interest in its cultivation and use.
- The hemp plant produces the strongest natural fiber known. Hemp fabric is three times stronger than cotton fabric of the same weight; it is also warmer, more absorbent, and longer wearing.
- A crop of hemp requires no application of herbicides. With a density of 200 to 300 plants per square meter, there is no available room or light for weeds to grow.
- The hemp plant also has no need of pesticides. It has no known insect enemies and is also highly resistant to disease.
Over 25,000 practical products can be produced from hemp--anything from "dynamite to Cellophane", according to an article in the February 1938 issue of Popular Mechanics. In fact, nearly all petroleum-based products, including plastics, could be made as hemp-based products, and with less impact on the environment.
- Cellulose fiber obtained from hemp plants can be used to produce paint, PVC pipe, and many durable building materials.
- It can also be used to make paper. One acre of hemp yields an amount of cellulose, available for processing into paper, equal to the yield of 4.1 acres of trees.
- The hemp seed contains one of the most complete and 'readily available' vegetable proteins known, and hemp seed oil is lower in saturated fats than any other vegetable oil including soybean and canola.
For the past sixty years in the United States, there has been a gulf between scientific opinion and legislative opinion concerning hemp. However, the past two years have provided many reasons to believe that the tide of opinion is turning. The legalization of industrial hemp in Canada is an obvious example; the issue is also being debated in several US state legislatures with promising results.
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