The first step to becoming more sustainable is knowing what options are out there. Hemp clothing is relatively new and an interesting alternative to the standard poly-cotton blend most things are made of nowadays. In a world of polyester and microplastics, the hunt for natural and eco-friendly textiles is more important than ever.
What Is Hemp?
First things first, hemp is not marijuana. Marijuana, as we all probably know, is a drug that contains THC, while hemp is its plant sibling that has been used since 10,000 BC as food, medicine, rope, clothing, and anything else that could be made from durable, fibrous stalks. While they come from similar plants, you cannot get high from a hemp plant.
As a biofiber, hemp fiber is completely natural and biodegradable. That means when a hemp shirt eventually ends up in a landfill, it will start breaking down relatively quickly. The world is slowly coming to the realization about how virgin plastic in clothing is harming oceans and filling landfills, so developing biofibers like hemp is essential to redefining the fashion industry.
Hemp is also hypoallergenic, antiviral, antibacterial, and antimicrobial. This is great for the consumer but all cheaper and safer for farmers since they don’t need to buy and use fertilizers and pesticides. On top of that, hemp strains with tall fibrous stalks and fewer flowers have been developed to optimize yield!
As of today, the main growers of hemp are Europe, Canada, and China, but there is still so much progress to be made with using hemp for clothing. How exciting!
Hemp has the potential to be more sustainable than cotton when mass-produced. It requires less water to grow, and when turned into fabric, is more insulted, water-absorbent (to keep you dry!), and generally more durable.
It’s also economically viable because it’s a high-yield crop. That means you get more fiber for the same amount of land. As populations grow and cities stretch into the countryside, space efficiency will be more important than ever before.
While most crops rely on rich fertile land for a successful harvest, hemp can grow are unfertile land and generally requires less energy to produce a healthy plant. This means that fertile land can be used to grow food instead of being taken over by the fiber industry.
The really great news is that hemp farming, if given the right attention, can meet high global demands. Tools and methods for higher quality hemp have become available, but the entire hemp fiber industry still has a lot of growing to do. Hemp’s future is very promising!
Things To Keep In Mind
Industrial hemp farming is more labor-intensive than conventional farming. Hemp seedlings are quite delicate. While 70 to 80 percent of them will germinate in a greenhouse, that number drops to 40 to 50 percent in a field.
Little hemp seedlings are also quite expensive, so farmers have to be even more diligent with their plant baby’s than other agriculture workers might be. They also begin to flower after the summer solstice (when days begin to shorten). While this isn’t a big deal if they are growing in a field, it does mean farmers have to replicate this light pattern for the plants if growing them indoors.
The whole hemp growing process also takes a bit of practice. Hemp plants need daily attention, constant protection from pests, and if grown indoors, meticulous climate and light control.
Where to Buy It
TenTree sells a modest selection of simple yet modern hemp clothing. They would all make great staples in a closet and most garments come in neutral, earthy colors.
Hempys is the place to go for hemp clothing. From hats, to leggings, to t-shirts, Hempys has it all. It is worth noting though that some of their products are blended with cotton or other fibers, so keep a lookout for that if you only want 100% hemp!
BeWUSST makes a range of pure hemp wear, the most interesting being hemp underwear! They also make jeans, sweaters, and leggings too!
The hemp fiber industry is still growing, which means supporting it is essential to helping it thrive. This could really be the fiber of the future. From a sustainability standpoint, hemp could save a lot of water and fertile growing space. It’s also just generally a better textile than cotton is in several ways.
Do you have any hemp clothing? Let us know! We would love to hear about your experience with it.
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