Hello hello 👋🏼
Brenda here. It's been a minute since I wrote, and today I am talking to you about… cannabis. That's right - but not just any type (I swear!).
We'll be talking today about H-E-M-P. Hemp.
Before we jump in, the team and I are delighted to announce that we raised £500 during our Green Friday campaign for Collective Fashion Justice (CFJ) - a grass roots organisation pushing for animal, human and environmental justice in the fashion industry. For our newest subscribers, you can read our interview with CFJ's founder, Emma Håkansson here.
What a hemp farm looks like! Source: KCUR
And now, back to hemp: what exactly is it?
First, Let me clarify a few things to avoid any misconceptions, because I already know what my parents are thinking! Hemp is legally defined as cannabis containing at most 0.3 % of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol - a psychoactive chemical compound) by dry weight which can not get you high. Marijuana, on the other hand, is legally defined as cannabis with more than 0.3% of THC, resulting in the ability to get you high.
Scientifically, they are exactly the same plant species 🍃 but this difference in THC percentage - which can be bred to a higher or lower percentage - was established for legal definitions of, and distinctions between, the terms “hemp” and “marijuana”. Interestingly, some countries (including Canada, Britain, France, Germany, Spain and 20+ others) have legalised industrial hemp but continue to criminalise marijuana.
I couldn't find a map showing hemp legalisation but here is one in general for cannabis. Source.
Alright, we know what it is now. So can you tell us what's the big deal?
I'm so glad you asked! Hemp is on our radar mostly because, from a sustainability point of view, it has an astounding number of uses and benefits (plus, we're actively looking at using hemp textiles in our next collections - but more on that in a future newsletter).
First up, hemp grows with no pesticides and little water (unlike our friend cotton, which is a thirsty plant). Hemp is biodegradable, sequesters CO2, outcompetes most weeds, and is a crop that gives back nutrients to the soil (so considerate💚). Moreover, every part of the hemp plant can be used: hemp oil can be used for paint and plastics, the fibre for textiles, the core for paper and construction (check out Hempcrete, below!), and the seeds for high protein nutrition!
Hempcrete is a pretty cool building material. We found an interesting list of pros and cons here.
Amazing, this is great news! But Brenda, can we then replace all current products with hemp products?
That's such an amazing question. Unfortunately reality is a little complicated because the adoption of hemp products depends largely on the industry. For example, if we're talking about hemp textiles the cost can be quite high (more, even, than organic cotton) caused by the constrained supply. To reduce cost, hemp is typically woven in with smoother, synthetic fabrics for a more desired texture which of course negatively affects its biodegradability.
In the construction sector, concrete made from hemp (our friend Hempcrete, for example) is not as readily available as regular concrete, so companies often resort to what they know best. Changing an industry is hard work!
I see…So is there an easy way for me to use hemp in my life or take some form of positive action?
The easiest way is to buy hemp products, and thus support companies that are using hemp. This can start off with something small - such as buying hemp paper or hemp plastics - to eventually perhaps some bigger items such as hemp construction. Global and long-lasting change doesn't happen overnight but remember: we consumers have a lot of power. Put your money where your heart is!
Alrighty! What does the future of hemp look like?
At present, less than one million acres of hemp are currently grown worldwide. In the next five to twenty years, according to Morris Beegle, a hemp industry leader, this will begin to increase tremendously. The hemp market is expected to grow in the US to $10.6 billion by 2025 with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14%.
So that's your daily “learn something new” done. But just to finish off, here are 3 fun things that surprised me during my research:
1. Hemp cars. That's right. You might even be driving one in the future. Henry Ford actually built a prototype car from bio-composite materials which included hemp, sisal and wheat straw.
2. The United State's Declaration of Independence was drafted on hemp paper.
3. And last but not least, the first copies of the Bible were made of hemp paper (#blessed).
Henry Ford standing along side his hemp car. Source.
And that's a wrap! Hope you enjoyed learning about the versatility of hemp and its various uses. I for one was definitely surprised by this material and I'm excited to see how its (re)adoption can enable us to creating more environmentally friendly products.
I also know that Jessica, our founder, is looking at using Hemp textiles in new LUXTRA products in 2023 and beyond. So stay tuned for that!
Have a wonderful week! 😊
Marketing & Content Manager | Hemp Expert | Picnic Enthusiast