This Plant Has the Power to Change the World
Hemp is having a moment right now, but ancient civilizations were looped into this power plant’s benefits from the very beginning. Did you know that hemp was grown and harvested to be used as fabric and paper as far back as 2800 BCE in China?! From strong fibers to nutrient-rich food and nourishing skincare, hemp has been used extensively for so much of history. Not only has it been around for ages, it is also an incredibly sustainable resource. Here are some ways hemp has the power to change the world for the better.
Hemp can detoxify soil
The hemp plant is fast growing, has long roots, and under the right conditions is easy to grow. You may not have heard of the term “bioremediation” before, but this is a process through which plants like hemp remove toxins from soil and water, essentially working to heal the earth as they grow. Some scientists have grown hemp in areas of contamination in order to keep toxins like cadmium from getting into our food chain or water systems.
One thing to note: After a hemp plant has been used to absorb toxicities in soil, it shouldn’t be used for medicinal, beauty or consumption purposes. The good news is it can, in fact, be converted to biofuels like ethanol.
Hemp fabric can replace cotton
Cotton is one of, if not the most, popular textile in the United States. The problem with cotton is that it wears out over time, needs excessive amounts of water to grow, and it’s not the most efficient resource. This is where hemp comes in.
Hemp was cultivated originally for its strong fibers, which get softer over time, rather than weakening and inevitably breaking apart. Archaeologists have even found evidence that the plant was used to create textiles back in ancient Mesopotamia — so it’s been around for a while. Studies show that hemp crops need 50% or less water than cotton to produce the weight of dried product. That means there’s more clean water for people that may need it.
Hemp is a more sustainable paper alternative
Hemp was actually first used as paper in China, where people would smash it into thin sheets, before its popularity spread across the ancient world. Now we know the plant is a more eco-friendly option to meet our ever-growing demand for paper goods. Hemp plants grow faster than our beloved trees (four months versus upwards of 80 years) making this plant a more sustainable renewable option for paper materials. Due to hemp’s fibrous nature, it’s also more durable than traditional paper and doesn’t yellow as quickly. Just imagine the impact it would have on restoring the world’s forests if we switched to alternative hemp papers.
Hemp is a great source of protein
You may have spotted hemp seeds in the aisles of your local grocery store, or maybe they’re an add-on at your favorite smoothie place. More than 25% of their calories come from protein, which is actually more than their popular counterparts chia and flax seeds.
Technically categorized as nuts, it turns out hemp seeds are incredibly rich in essential fatty acids, linoleic acid (omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3). These fatty acids help keep you feeling fuller for longer, and they also contribute to healthy hair, skin and nail growth. When applied topically, fatty-acid rich hemp seed oil can help to soothe, strengthen and moisturize your skin, too.
Hemp is stronger than kevlar & steel
The inner fibers of the hemp plant — the part that’s often discarded after harvesting and processing — actually has incredible durability. This biodegradable material, when woven together, could potentially replace chemically laden resources that create protective materials like Kevlar.
Hemp is known to be 10 times stronger than steel, a fact that the automobile and engineering industries have used to their advantage. So why stop there? The production of hemp plastics and other hemp-based materials also create less waste that harms the environment.
Hemp has been used as an important tool for centuries, and for good reason. We as consumers have the power to make hemp a part of our daily lives through more mindful consumption. So the next time you pick up a hemp-powered product, just remember that you’re creating a demand for an incredible renewable resource, one that could help the world’s largest industries operate for the better.