- What is hemp?
For our purposes, hemp is the plant called "cannabis sativa". There are other plants that are called hemp, but cannabis hemp is the most useful of these plants. In fact, `cannabis sativa' means `useful (sativa) hemp (cannabis)'.
`Hemp' is any durable plant that has been used since pre-history for many purposes. Fiber is the most well known product, and the word `hemp' can mean the rope or twine which is made from the hemp plant, as well as just the stalk of the plant which produced it.
- What is cannabis?
Cannabis is the most durable of the hemp plants, and it produces the toughest cloth, called `canvass.' (Canvass was widely used as sails in the early shipping industry, as it was the only cloth which would not rot on contact with sea spray.) The cannabis plant also produces three other very important products which the other hemp plants do not (in usable form, that is): seed, pulp, and medicine.
The pulp is used as fuel, and to make paper. The seed is suitable for both human and animal foods. The oil from the seed can be used in as a base for paints and varnishes. The medicine is a tincture or admixture of the sticky resin in the blossoms and leaves of the hemp plant, and is used for a variety of purposes.
- How can hemp be used for cloth?
The stalk of the hemp plant has two parts, called the bast and the hurd. The fiber (bast) of the hemp plant can be woven into almost any kind of cloth. It is very durable. In fact, the first Levi's blue jeans were made out of hemp for just this reason. Compared to all the other natural fibers available, hemp is more suitable for a large number of applications.
Here is how hemp is harvested for fiber: A field of closely spaced hemp is allowed to grow until the leaves fall off. The hemp is then cut down and it lies in the field for some time washed by the rain. It is turned over once to expose both sides of the stalk evenly. During this time, the hurd softens up and many minerals are returned to the soil. This is called `retting,' and after this step is complete, the stalks are brought to a machine which separates the bast and the hurd. We are lucky to have machines today -- men used to do this last part by hand with hours of back-breaking labor.
- Why is it better than cotton?
The cloth that hemp makes may be a little less soft than cotton, (though there are also special kinds of hemp, or ways to grow or treat hemp, that can produce a soft cloth) but it is much stronger and longer lasting. (It does not stretch out.) Environmentally, hemp is a better crop to grow than cotton, especially the way cotton is grown nowadays. In the United States, the cotton crop uses half of the total pesticides. (Yes, you heard right, one-half of the pesticides used in the entire U.S. are used on cotton.) Cotton is a soil damaging crop and needs a lot of fertilizer.
A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF THE DIFFERENT ECOLOGICAL QUALITIES OF HEMP IN GENERAL, AND OF OUR COMPANY IN PARTICULAR:
As you probably know, hemp has truly exceptional properties and characteristics: Among other things, it is a plant that requires 2 to 11 times less water to produce twice as much fibre as cotton on a given surface. In other words: 5000 to 20,000 litres of water are needed to produce 1 kg of industrial cotton! (Not to mention pesticides, fertilizers and other chemicals: cotton cultivation alone is responsible for 25% of the world's pesticide use! A parenthesis that was well worth writing in bold...). When 300 to 2500 litres of water are sufficient to produce the same quantity of hemp fibre on half the surface area (the values vary greatly according to the studies, the regions where they were carried out and the production techniques used). Even so, whatever the study used as a reference, the observation remains striking.)
In addition, rainwater and rivers around the fields are usually sufficient to irrigate plantations, making artificial irrigation unnecessary.
Hemp is, therefore, THE ONE "Organic" plant, offering us a model of responsible agro-ecology that is irreproachable and extremely simple to set up.
Here is a small non-exhaustive list of the characteristics that make it a truly exceptional material to use and very interesting to promote:
-It is the most resistant natural fibre on the planet!
-Its production does not require the use of any pesticides or GMOs!
-Its lifespan is 4 times longer than that of cotton!
-Excellent ventilation and fabric insulation qualities. It even resists fire!
-A hemp plant captures on average 4 to 5 times more CO2 than most trees do. It has been calculated that each tonne of hemp grown represents 1.63 tonnes of CO₂ absorbed!
-Hemp is known for its ability to remove toxins, heavy metals and other pollutants from the soil. In addition, it improves their structure thanks to its deeply branched roots.
And the list goes on and on.
"If, in order to save the planet, reverse the greenhouse effect and stop deforestation, all fossil fuels and their derivatives were banned, as well as cutting trees for papermaking and building construction; then there would remain only one natural and renewable resource capable of providing us with paper, textiles and fuels on a global scale, of meeting all our needs in terms of transport, industry and energy, while simultaneously reducing pollution, regenerating the soil, and cleaning the atmosphere... This resource has been used for this purpose before and on many occasions: This resource is hemp. "I'm not saying it will save our planet... I'm just saying it's the only thing that can really do it..."
To conclude on the positive impact of the use of hemp in our society: we are tempted to say that it is an unlimited resource with multiple or even infinite applications, whose promotion would help people to understand that WE ARE Able to produce products of all kinds and of better quality in a healthier way, while using fewer resources, fewer chemicals, and more natural components.
And it is for all these reasons that we have decided to make hemp, the mother root of our company.
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