Is hemp the most sustainable fabric?
Of all of the plants available for cultivation and utilisation by human beings, hemp has got to be up there as one of the most handy. Hemp is a strain of the cannabis species so it has long been utilised for its medicinal purposes, but it’s super versatile; it can be used to make paper, art supplies, skincare products, food products, biomass fuels and, because the fibers have immense strength and durability, it is even used to form an insulating building block similar to concrete. So basically, hemp is a super plant.
What we’re most interested in, though, is hemp as a fabric, and we’ve found out some pretty cool things about this Wonder Woman of the plant kingdom. Unfortunately no, you cannot get high if you sniff your hemp garments really hard. Give it a go if you like but we guarantee you’ll just look a bit (or a lot) silly. Although it is a variety of the cannabis plant, hemp contains virtually no THC—the chemical in marijuana that gets you high—so your hemp garments will be completely dope but also completely dope-free.
Caring for your Hemp
A gentle cycle with cold water is best when washing hemp products.
Iron your hemp when it is still damp from washing as it is stronger when wet.
Hemp dries quickly so tumble-drying is not usually necessary. If tumble-drying, do not leave it in the machine for long as this can weaken the hemp fibers or shrink your hemp item.
Stains will set quickly so tend to them as soon as they occur.
Environmental Impact and Growing Process
The hemp plant is very fast growing and can produce more fiber than cotton and flax in the same amount of land. Hemp is also one of the most eco-friendly plants to cultivate not only due to its ability to grow well without herbicides or pesticides but also because its deep-root system helps to prevent soil erosion and aerate the soil for future crops. Sustainable much? In terms of producing hemp, tropical climates are the best conditions in which to grow this plant, which is why movies with marijuana as a key plot device always feature men in sunglasses and unbuttoned floral shirts.
As a fabric, the raw texture of hemp is quite similar to linen in its strength and durability and also in its temperature regulating abilities. The hemp fibers can be spun into a fabric similar to linen or blended with other fibers like cotton, silk, and linen, and the garments crafted from hemp fibers will also last the buyer a long time—the material is less likely to fade than cotton because it is very receptive to dyes. Hemp fabric is also hypoallergenic, UV resistant, and is eight times stronger than cotton. We’ve come to the conclusion that hemp is basically the natural world’s equivalent to Clare Press: adaptable, versatile in its abilities, and good at everything it does.
Hemp has an even longer history than JB and Selena—it has long been cultivated for textile fiber, and the use of hemp as a fabric dates back to 8,000 BC! Tombs from this time were discovered to contain hemp fabrics, and The Columbia History of the World has since stated that these are the oldest relics of human history. It’s believed that China was one of the first cultures to utilise hemp fibers, and they’re still the world’s biggest producer of the hemp plant. How crazy is that? It’s also been used for centuries as the fabric for sail canvas and rope because of its natural resistance to UV rays and mould.
Because of its extremely strong and resilient fibers and its ability to withstand harsh UV rays whilst absorbing moisture, it is no surprise as to why hemp is so widely cultivated, and why its fibers are used to create the very clothing we put onto our backs. It’s eco-friendly, its ability to clean the soil for the next plants makes it a sustainable and withstanding plant, and it can produce more fiber than cotton and flax. There are not many negatives associated with the hemp crop and its fibers, which leaves us on a massive high. Sorry, had to.
If you’re interested, here are three of our favourite companies utilising hemp:
Written by Lola Asaadi.