‘Climate Change’ – a term that we are well acquainted with. Be it social media platforms, journals, or news articles, we are aware that it is an important issue plaguing humankind today. Unsustainable human practices and environmental degradation are serious problems for humankind.
But life cannot go on in this manner. To combat this issue and ensure the future of the planet, sustainable solutions are the need. We need change, and we need it fast.
People are beginning to realize that destroying the planet only destroys us in the process. And that we need to change our practices for a better future.
We are now living in the midst of a global pandemic. And there is a rise in the frequency of natural disasters as well. Our unviable practices are contributing factors.
No longer can we take the earth for granted, can we?
Could Hemp be the key to a sustainable future?
Today, nature lovers are delving deep into the past, looking for ways and means to create a better world for humans on this planet.
Hemp, a plant variety well known to humankind, is a plant that has been in use for centuries. This plant has the ability to restore the soil of the earth. And also provides a variety of products for humans and animal usage that are less harmful than the ones that currently exist.
Hemp: Cannabis uses, not Marijuana
Both hemp and marijuana are from the cannabis plant. What differs is the amount of THC, a chemical that creates the psychoactive feelings of a “high”.
Hemp has less than 0.3 % THC while weight dry. It is possible to use all parts of the hemp plant, from its chemical compounds to natural compounds such as the seeds, roots, stem, leaves, and flowers.
This guide will cover 9 ways in which hemp could help in enabling a sustainable future:
Hemp- an eco-friendly alternative
1. A source of cheaper and stronger raw materials
Hemp fiber has been in use for thousands of years. It has been used for the production of textiles, hemp paper, ropes and, industrial/building materials.
Hempcrete, a form of concrete made from hemp is utilized around the world. As is it less brittle when compared, it finds use as a form of insulation and as a means of regulating moisture.
Although hempcrete is unsuitable for building foundations, it is optimal for non-load bearing walls and is a high-quality insulator
2. A sustainable fuel source
A large number of energy crops, such as wheat, soya, maize and sugarcane are found in the market. Hemp is the latest addition to that list.
Biodiesel and ethanol are two variants of hemp biofuel. When the oil is collected from hemp plants, several measures are taken to render hemp biodiesel ideal for diesel-powered vehicles.
Hemp can also be converted into ethanol by various fermentation methods. Hemp is a better, more viable option for producing ethanol compared to other energy crops.
3. A natural alternative to plastic
Leading us our next sustainable product, bioplastic hemp.
Hemp bioplastic is a natural alternative in the packaging industry, a great replacement to petroleum-based plastics.
Bioplastics are any plastics that are derived from plants, biodegradable or both.
Owing to the confluence of customer demands for sustainable products, corporate initiatives and lowered production costs, the production of bioplastics is expected to boom. Bioplastics are projected to control 5 percent of the plastics market by 2020, rising to 40% worldwide by 2030.
Hemp and its benefits to human health:
1. As a source of food
Hemp seeds are superfoods. The extract of hemp seeds are nutritious and have high protein content. They can be utilized to make flavorsome food and other non-dairy products, such as hemp-seed milk, bread, cheese, dips, etc.
Hemp seed can also be utilized to feed livestock and is a rich source of fiber for humans.
If you have a nut allergy but loves nuts, worry no more. Kernels of hemp seeds are great alternatives for nuts.
2. Hemp oil- an alternative to cooking oil
Humans simply cannot imagine life without oil. Cooking oil is a necessity in our day to day existence. But we are beginning to realize the dangerous health effects posed by many common sources of cooking oil.
Hemp oil is a nutritious and healthier replacement to unhealthier cooking oils. Its flavor and consistency are similar to that of olive oil.
Hemp seeds can provide highly nutritive hemp seed oil by methods of extraction and cold pressing. Unrefined hemp seed oil is a good source of essential fatty acids (EFAs). The leftover hemp seed meal after the oil has been extracted is extremely healthy. It consists of 25% protein.
3. Medicinal properties of hemp
Another essential non-intoxicating medical compound found in hemp is cannabidiol which is generally known as CBD.
Unlike its cousin THC found in marijuana, CBD oil doesn’t get people high.
CBD oil is considered to be an effective treatment for muscle pains, inflammation and pain relief.
Due to the myriad of health benefits associated with CBD, countries around the world have started to ease strict control over the cultivation of hemp.
Uses of hemp in consumer products:
1. As an alternative to cotton and wool
Hemp fiber is one of the most sturdy and durable natural textile fibers. Production of hemp textiles also has a less environmental impact unlike cotton or wool. Hemp requires significantly fewer pesticides and water.
- Retain shape without stretching
- Are mold resistant
- Are UV light-resistant
- Are water-absorbent
- Retain color and dye better
2. Hemp seed oil – a sustainable alternative in skin/ beauty products
Hemp seed oil is abundant in antioxidants, vitamins and 21 recognized amino acids. Produced from cold-pressing seeds of hemp, the oil is well hydrating. It also has antibacterial properties, will not clog pores, soothes redness, and provides some UV protection. As a result,s hemp seed oil is used in a number of skin lotions, serums, creams, and treatments.
3. Hemp promotes sustainable farming
Seasonal crop rotation is an integral part of sustainable farming, to preserve soil nutrients. Since hemp is an annual crop, growing within just four months of being planted, it is the ideal choice for crop rotation. Hemp as a rotational crop regenerates the soil and provides greater crop yield.
Hemp hurds can be used as a bedding for livestock like horses, chickens and cattle. Hemp bedding long-lasting absorbent, produces less dust, regulates odour and is biodegradable.
Is hemp the solution we are looking for?
It is obvious that hemp is an important factor for a sustainable future.
Millenials are gradually becoming the largest consumer group in the world. They are unhappy with the existing environmental practices and are looking for sustainable solutions.
They have serious concerns about climate change, the environment, responsibility and sustainability. And hemp finds a perfect spot with these requirements.
Hemp has several wonderful benefits. Hemp bioplastic, hemp concrete and hemp biofuel have much potential. They are environmentally friendly and have the potential to become a global billion dollar industry.
As the fight for more environmentally sustainable materials increases along with the burden that plastic, concrete, plastic, and fuel are placing on the planet, hemp could become the most preferred alternative.
Author Bio: Vishal Vivek is the CEO and Co-Founder at Hemp Foundation.
Hemp Foundation’s mission is to fight Global warming, plastic pollution, deforestation, wild species extinction through the promotion of Hemp in the fashion industry and at the same time provide jobs to marginalized communities of artisans and farmers in rural Himalayan villages and give them global reach.