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Hemp: Nature's Super FiberShare

Hemp - Nature's Super Fiber

Hemp is an extremely durable, fast growing sustainable fiber that is drought tolerant. And unlike conventionally grown cotton, it doesn't require massive quantities of pesticides and fertilizers to grow well. 

Bottom line: hemp is a "super fiber." That's why more and more progressive, high-profile companies are starting to use hemp including Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Giorgio Armani and The Body Shop, to name a few. Despite hemp's enormous benefits, the US government maintains an odd position banning its cultivation in the US.

Below are some key facts about why hemp is a great natural fiber for products subject to frequent wear and tear. 
 

  • Hemp products will outlast their competition by many years - not only is it strong, but hemp holds its shape. This means less stretching and more durability.
  • The more hemp is used, the softer it gets. In fact, hemp doesn't wear out, it wears in!
  • Hemp is naturally resistant to mold and ultraviolet light.

The above qualities all point to hemp as being a smart, durable substitute for other natural fibers. We've tested hemp products and fully agree with the benefits of this "super fiber." Click here for a view of the hemp products we offer.  Be sure to continue reading below for an overview of the history of hemp, its amazing natural qualities, and a list of what countries are currently taking advantage of this wonderful fiber.

 

Background 

Back in the 1930's, a smear campaign was created by competing industries including paper, petrochemical, and cotton in order to destroy the hemp industry. A PR campaign was created to lump hemp in with marijuana and the "reefer madness" wave sweeping the nation at the time. 

In 1937, this pressure led the U.S. government to ban growing industrial hemp. Even though it has been proven that THC levels are far too low for a person to get high on, over 60 years later the US Government maintains a ludicrous position against growing industrial hemp to continue to benefit the powerful economic interests of these competing industries. 

 

Qualities of Industrial Hemp 

  • Unlike cotton, hemp is naturally hardy and drought tolerant and grows well without herbicides, pesticides or fertilizers. Twenty-five percent of all the pesticides used in the U.S. are applied to cotton.
  • Its growth rate is so rapid, it is ready for harvest in only 4 months- reaching a height of 6-12 feet, and producing 3-6 tons of dry fiber per acre.
  • Industrial hemp is not a drug. Unlike its cousin marijuana, industrial hemp has only trace amounts of THC - the chemical that produces the high. Unfortunately, the U.S. government refuses to legalize the cultivation of industrial hemp and clings to the obsolete myth that it is a drug.
  • Hemp fibers are one of Earth's longest, strongest and most durable fibers and several times stronger than cotton.
  • Hemp fibers yield superior paper with far more recycling lives than wood-based paper or cotton fibers. Hemp fiber paper resists decomposition, and does not yellow with age when an acid-free process is used. Hemp paper more than 1,500 years old has been found.
  • Growing Hemp can save trees. According to the US Dept of Agriculture, one acre of hemp yields the same amount of paper pulp as four acres of trees on an annual basis.
  • Hemp has been shown to "eat" radioactivity at Chernobyl. Hemp is proving to be one of the best phyto-remediative plants in the world. These plants have the ability to decontaminate soil by absorbing and/or trapping pollutants ranging from radiation and pesticides to solvents and toxins leaching from landfills.

 

Interesting Historical Hemp Facts 

  • Levi Strauss's legendary denim jeans were originally made out of hemp.
  • The word Canvas is derived from "cannabis" - prior to the introduction of synthetic fibers hemp was used all over the world.
  • Presidents Washington and Jefferson both grew hemp. Americans were legally bound to grow hemp during the colonial era and early republic. The federal government subsidized hemp during the Second World War and US farmers grew about a million acres of hemp as part of that program.
  • The first American flag was made of hemp fabric and the Declaration of Independence was drafted on hemp paper.
  • The earliest known woven fabric was made of hemp and dates back to the eighth millennium (8,000-7,000) BC.
  • In 1937 industrialists E. Paul DuPont, Andrew Mellon and William Randolph Hearst were able to push a "marijuana" prohibition bill through Congress in less than three months, which destroyed the domestic hemp industry.

 

Growing Industrial Hemp - Milestones From Around the World

Information cited from www.thehia.org 

The U.S. is the only industrialized nation in the world that does not recognize the value of industrial hemp and permit its production. 

Below is a list of milestones from other countries that are more rational when it comes to hemp policy:

  • AUSTRALIA began research trials in Tasmania in 1995. Victoria commercial production since 1998. New South Wales has research. In 2002, Queensland began production. Western Australia licensed crops in 2004.
  • AUSTRIA has a hemp industry including production of hemp seed oil, medicinals and Hanf magazine.
  • CANADA started to license research crops in 1994. In addition to crops for fiber, one seed crop was licensed in 1995. Many acres were planted in 1997. Licenses for commercial agriculture saw thousands of acres planted in 1998. 30,000 acres were planted in 1999. In 2000, due to speculative investing, 12,250 acres were sown. In 2001, 92 farmers grew 3,250 acres. A number of Canadian farmers are now growing organically-certified hemp crops (6,000 acres in 2003 and 8,500 acres in 2004, yielding almost four million pounds of seed).
  • CHILE has grown hemp in the recent past for seed oil production.
  • CHINA is the largest exporter of hemp textiles. The fabrics are of excellent quality. Medium density fiber board is also now available.
  • DENMARK planted its first modern hemp trial crops in 1997. The country is committed to utilizing organic methods.
  • FINLAND had a resurgence of hemp in 1995 with several small test plots. A seed variety for northern climates was developed called Finola, previously know by the breeder code "FIN-314." In 2003, Finola was accepted to the EU list of subsidized hemp cultivars. Hemp has never been prohibited in Finland.
  • FRANCE has never prohibited hemp and harvested 10,000 tons of fiber in 1994. France is a source of low-THC-producing hemp seed for other countries. France exports high quality hemp oil to the U.S.
  • GERMANY banned hemp in 1982, but research began again in 1992, and many technologies and products are now being developed, as the ban was lifted on growing hemp in November, 1995. Food, clothes and paper are also being made from imported raw materials. Mercedes and BMW use hemp fiber for composites in door panels, dashboards, etc.
  • GREAT BRITAIN lifted hemp prohibition in 1993. Animal bedding, paper and textiles markets have been developed. A government grant was given to develop new markets for natural fibers. 4,000 acres were grown in 1994. Subsidies of 230 British pounds per acre are given by the government to farmers for growing hemp.
  • HUNGARY is rebuilding their hemp industry, and is one of the biggest exporters of hemp cordage, rugs and fabric to the U.S. They also export hemp seed, paper and fiberboard.
  • INDIA has stands of naturalized Cannabis and uses it for cordage, textiles and seed.
  • ITALY has invested in the resurgence of hemp, especially for textile production. 1,000 acres were planted for fiber in 2002. Giorgio Armani grows its own hemp for specialized textiles.
  • JAPAN has a rich religious tradition involving hemp, and custom requires that the Emperor and Shinto priests wear hemp garments in certain ceremonies, so there are small plots maintained for these purposes. Traditional spice mixes also include hemp seed. Japan supports a thriving retail market for a variety of hemp products.
  • NETHERLANDS is conducting a four-year study to evaluate and test hemp for paper, and is developing specialized processing equipment. Seed breeders are developing new strains of low-THC varieties.
  • NEW ZEALAND started hemp trials in 2001. Various cultivars are being planted in both the north and south islands.
  • POLAND currently grows hemp for fabric and cordage and manufactures hemp particle board. They have demonstrated the benefits of using hemp to cleanse soils contaminated by heavy metals.
  • ROMANIA is the largest commercial producer of hemp in Europe. 1993 acreage was 40,000 acres. Some of it is exported to Hungary for processing. They also export hemp to Western Europe and the U.S.
  • RUSSIA maintains the largest hemp germplasm collection in the world at the N.I. Vavilov Scientific Research Institute of Plant Industry (VIR) in St. Petersburg. They are in need of funding to maintain and support the collection.
  • SLOVENIA grows hemp and manufactures currency paper. 
  • SPAIN has never prohibited hemp, produces rope and textiles, and exports hemp pulp for paper.
  • SWITZERLAND is a producer of hemp and hosts one of the largest hemp trade events, Cannatrade.
  • TURKEY has grown hemp for 2,800 years for rope, caulking, birdseed, paper and fuel.
  • UKRAINE, EGYPT, KOREA, PORTUGAL and THAILAND also produce hemp.
  • UNITED STATES granted the first hemp permit in over 40 years to Hawaii for an experimental quarter-acre plot in 1999. The license was renewed, but the project has since been closed due to DEA stalling tactics and related funding problems. Importers and manufacturers have thrived using imported raw materials. 22 states have introduced legislation, including VT, HI, ND, MT, MN, IL, VA, NM, CA, AR, KY, MD, WV and ME, addressing support, research or cultivation with bills or resolutions. The National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL) has endorsed industrial hemp for years.

 

Click here to see our growing line of products made from hemp. 

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