Many people don’t realize that hemp is a fibrous plant that yields a a cloth as soft as cotton when it is harvested for such purposes. In fact, it was partly the threat of hemp to the cotton industry that got hemp banned all the way back in 1937.
It’s sad to wonder where we might be today if this country had taken another route. Hemp is a renewable plant, a soil remediator, and simply an amazing plant for many reasons.
Hemp was legal in American until 1937 when it is believed that lumber barons and cotton plantation owners felt threatened by the potential competition this plant could give them.
They began to lobby congress for help in ensuring that hemp would never be able to put them out of business. While it is admirable to want to save your way of earning a living, it was done at the expense of our country in so many ways.
Let’s explore the top six reasons why hemp is better than cotton.
1) Hemp can produce 2 to 3 times the amount of fiber from one acre of crop than cotton can. This means that there is less labor, less seed, less water and irrigation, and more product. From a financial standpoint, hemp makes a great deal more sense, no matter who you are. You don’t have to be an accountant to understand that if you can produce three times the product in the same space with the same (or possibly less) work, then you’ll make far more profit in the long run.
2) Hemp is called a ‘soil remediator’ and this means that it can help to clean the soil it is planted in. It pulls all the chemicals and toxins from the soil right up into its stems. This helps to cleanse the soils in given areas of pollutants that may have been present. This process of cleaning the soil is called soil remediation. While you wouldn’t want to consume this particular hemp, the fibers could be used for textile use, while the soil is gradually returned to a more organic state.
3) Cotton is a wasteful crop that causes a lot of harm and pollution in the environment. Roughly 10% of the total chemicals used for agricultural purposes come from cotton. 25% of the total amount of insecticides used each year are used on cotton plans as well. These harmful pollutants are washed into the soil, where they pollute ground water. They also make their way into rivers and streams where they pollute vast areas, spread by the moving waters. Fish die and habitats are tainted forever. Hemp can be grown without any chemicals because the natural terpenes that give it the smell it is known for will keep bugs away. It’s a natural insecticide that acts as a defense system.
4) Hemp is a crop that can survive during near drought conditions, needing only one-third of the amount of water that cotton needs. Cotton is far needier as a crop than hemp is. If the weather brought little rain in a season, cotton crops can be decimated and the need for running irrigations systems is far greater. This takes energy and removes water from ground water tables that humans and animals rely on for drinking water, wasting valuable resources.
5) Hemp is a very sturdy plant. The fibers of the hemp plant are anywhere from 3 to 8 times stronger than those of cotton. It depends on how the fibers are processed in the manufacturing process as to how strong they are in the final product. This means that hemp can be used for greater applications than cotton. Hemp has more flexibility to be used more broadly.
6) The hemp plant as antibacterial properties, which is why the Chinese grew it and used it as a medicinal herb as long ago as 6,000 years. When you wear hemp fibers, they are not only naturally wicking, moisture absorbent, and UV protective, they are also antibacterial in nature. What a great idea for children’s clothing and for many different applications for materials that aren’t just worn but used as tablecloths, cloth napkins and kitchen towels. Even sleeping on hemp sheets will keep you dry, cooler, and provide a bit of added protection from germs.
Sadly, our congress chose to put the hemp industry in the dark, keeping it from the people by spreading false stories about cannabis and how it could cause harm, lead young people to seek other drugs and cause people to rape and murder each other.
Forests have been leveled, some species of trees have nearly disappeared from places in our country where they once were plentiful. The water we’ve wasted and the chemicals that we’ve introduced to our environment because of choices made in 1937 are somewhat sickening and disheartening.
Still, we have a chance to set things on the right path and to make better choices going forward as a nation. Hemp is again legal, thanks to activists and scientists who worked tirelessly to prove the harmless plant’s potential. Hemp may well be what saves American agriculture.
New products are being developed from hemp, such as hempcrete, a building material that is as strong as cement, but far lighter. Builders would have so many new applications for this product due to the lighter weight. It is also fire retardant.
Plastics are being developed from hemp that will biodegrade. At a time when we are seeing ocean creatures being strangled by plastic bags, suffocating from straws in their nostrils and washing up on beaches to die with bellies full of plastic, this is an unbelievably exciting product.
Hemp could not only save America, it could help to reverse climate change by reducing waste. It could cleanse soils around the globe, create fibers that can be used in products that are safe for the planet, opening doors to new job opportunities as it does so. Hemp should never have been illegal, but now that it’s not, let’s do our part to ensure that champion this plant and see its potential.