Hemp: We put that shit on everything.
We were so excited to learn about all the new technology in textile and clothing production that we hardly touched on hemp and cannabis in our last newsletter. So today we bring you PART DEUX in our sustainable fashion series: Hemp, I put that shit on everything.
Now, if your mother was a recycling-obsessed hippie like mine (or if you ARE that mother/father/person), you probably have the eco-guilt following you around every consumer decision corner. You probably try to use a travel thermos as much as you can, you stash away the nice bags from gifts you’ve received to use again, and you think about alternative ways you can recycle or even upcycle items that might otherwise find themselves in the trash.
So naturally, when my recycling-obsessed brain was introduced to the world of cannabis, I wondered why we weren’t using all the leftover stem materials from all the cannabis grows to create hemp textiles?
The first recorded uses of hemp are all for fibre and textiles. The earliest example of hemp cloth was found in Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq / Iran) in 8,000 BC. In the Middle Ages, hemp was an incredibly important crop for both food and fibre - Sailboats were dependent on it for both rope and sails. We just learned in the research for this newsletter that the word ‘canvas’ comes from cannabis. So there, this is an educational newsletter.
It turns out that not all plants from the cannabis and hemp family are good for textiles. Some plants are better for growing the protein-rich hemp hearts that you may enjoy on top of your smoothie bowl. Some plants are best for the therapeutic applications of THC and CBD. Sadly, those leftover stems and stalks from all of the medical and recreational grows across the country can’t be used to make a beautiful linen button-down shirt - yet.
We’re hoping a genius will come along soon with a use for the millions of kilos of waste material generated from licensed producers. CBC reported last year that as the regulations currently stand, producers are required to destroy all leftover materials. While it wouldn’t necessarily make the nicest fabric, it could still be used for as a reinforcement material in concrete; fibre in animal feed; or as insulation.
While expecting harem pants, hemp hearts, and a high from a single cultivar of cannabis may not be in the cards, hemp that’s grown for fibre still far exceeds other plants grown for fibre in terms of beneficial impacts. Hemp plants require far less water than cotton, and don’t need pesticides or herbicides. Bonus, the cannabis and hemp family of plants are natural soil remediators, sucking up heavy metals and renewing the soil for the next crop.
Ultimately, by buying hemp, you’re making a great decision for the planet. We’re just always looking for ways to do better. If you - or someone you know - are the genius working on uses for the waste material generated in the cannabis industry, we’d love to feature you in an upcoming newsletter.