Hemp also is deeply woven into our American History: Did you know
that the first American Flag was made out of hemp, and Christopher
Columbus' sails were hemp (hemp makes a perfect fabric for sails due
to it's incredible durability and it is also resistant to mold).
Because it is great for sails it also makes a wonderful fabric (and
natural choice) for a shower curtain; I have a hemp shower curtain
that has lasted many, many years. Read on for more interesting and
fun hemp facts from the Hemp page (at www.ecomall.com):
What is hemp?
Hemp (Cannabis Sativa) is a "bast" fiber plant similar to flax or
ramie that is harvested for its fibers and seed. The plant is tall,
and thin and grows from 5 to 15 feet in height. It is primarily grown
in Europe, Asia, South America and Canada.
What is hemp used for?
All kinds of things! Coarse hemp fibers and yarns are woven into
cordage, rope, carpets, burlap, sacking, and heavy-duty tarpaulins.
It can also be woven into durable high quality textiles for clothing,
curtains, upholstery, shoes, backpacks, and towels. Other uses of the
fibers include particle board and paper. The seeds are used for
health foods, edible oils, biodiesel oil, paint, soaps, cosmetics,
cremes, and a host of other products.
How long has hemp been in use?
The use of hemp can be traced back to 8000 BC in the Middle East and
China where the fiber was used for textiles, ropes, and fishnets, the
oil for cosmetic purposes and the seeds for food. The Columbia
History of the World states that the oldest relic of human industry
is a bit of hemp fabric dating back to approximately 8,000 BC. Hemp
has been used to produce high quality paper for centuries.
Where is hemp grown?
Today, hemp is grown around the world but primarily in Europe, Asia,
South America and Canada. In the United States, it is illegal to grow
hemp except by special permit, which is a rarity. This situation is
the result of politics related to protecting the interests of cotton
and tree growers and misinformation about industrial hemp's psycho-
active effects. Strangely though, Americans were encouraged to grow
hemp during the Colonial era and during World War II.
Can hemp be used as a drug like marijuana?
No. Although both plants are from the species cannabis, industrial or
fiber hemp contains virtually no THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol),
the active ingredient in marijuana. For this reason, one cannot get
high from smoking hemp.
How difficult is hemp to grow?
Hemp will grow almost anywhere, requires little fertilizer, resists
pests and crowds out weeds, therefore it is a crop that is relatively
easy to grow and does well as an organic crop. The plant grows
quickly, requiring only 70 to 110 days to maturity.
How environmentally friendly is hemp?
Very! Hemp requires no pesticides or fertilizers and much less water
than other crops. Hemp grows quickly (70 to 110 days) producing crops
once a year, unlike trees which take many years to grow to a usable
size. Hemp uses minimal nutrients from the soil and hemp's long roots
aerate the soil, leaving it rich for future crops. Hemp fiber can be
used to make a stronger wood substitute for paper, fine cloth, canvas
and can be whitened using less environmentally harmful chemicals than
are used to make paper from trees.
What are some other ecological advantages of hemp?
The oils of the hemp plant have been made into both biodegradable
plastics and ethanol fuels. Both of these uses of hemp oil would be
more ecologically sound when compared to using their petroleum
counterparts because most petroleum-based plastics are not
biodegradable and the burning of petroleum-based gasoline, unlike
biomass (plant) fuel, is a major cause of air pollution.
How does hemp compare to cotton?
Hemp fabrics are stronger, more absorbent, more insulative, and more
durable than cotton and they don’t stretch out of shape. Natural
organic hemp fiber "breathes" and is biodegradable. Hemp will produce
1500 pounds of fiber per acre, whereas cotton will produce only 500
pounds per acre!
What are some other historical tidbits about hemp ?
-The original Levi’s were made of hemp cloth
-The first Gutenberg Bible was printed on hemp paper.
-Christopher Columbus' sails and ropes were made from hemp.
-The first drafts of the Declaration of Independence were printed on
-Ben Franklin owned a mill that made hemp paper.
-The first American flag was made out of hemp.
-George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew hemp.
-Rudolph Diesel designed an engine to run on hemp oil.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Monday, September 10, 2007
Welcome to my dear friend Shannon who has agreed to contribute some fabulous articles on many various topics.
Tonight is the first installment of...
Why I love hemp (and you should too):
I have long been a hemp addict -- hemp skirts, hemp dresses, hemp
pants, hemp bags, and even hemp nuts . . . can't get enough. So,
when my friend Lise decided to go into business making hemp clothing
I knew I would be the perfect friend to test run these fabulous new
goodies for her. I really am the perfect friend for the job (I am
selling myself a bit here because I really want another pair of her
lovely hemp pants) not only do I love my hemp clothing but I am also
a homeschool Mama (like my wildly talented and wonderful friend Lise)
and with both a ten year old and a toddler to chase, crawl around on
the floor with, and clean up after I have had so many varied
substances somehow land, descend, materialize and/or be ground into
my clothing that I have come to realize that hemp is the one and
only substance that can stand up to this type of daily abuse and
still look good -- because looking good really is pretty darn
important too these days -- especially when you have pasta in your
hair and milk on your blouse. Actually looking nice can be a real
challenge for a stay- at-home/homeschool Mom (for some of us I
guess). And, we do want to look good, or at least be presentable,
when the mailman comes around or a neighbor sneaks a peek when we are
taking out the trash. Oh what a humble life we lead . . . Actually
I do get out and when I do it is usually in a nice hemp skirt or
dress. I wear it out and about, I garden in it, I even have been
known to fall asleep in it (it really is that comfy).
So, back to my "Ode to Hemp": I have been able to wash and wear my
hemp skirts, dresses and pants for years and they still look great.
Some of my long time favorites are a bit more worn than others, but I
love each piece for how hard it has worked for me (and with me).
Hemp has been used for quite a long time for much more difficult jobs
than clothing my bum. Here is a very nice starter fact list on hemp
from The Hemp Industries Association (www.thehia.org) to get you going:
1) Hemp is among the oldest industries on the planet, going back more
than 10,000 years to the beginnings of pottery. The Columbia History
of the World states that the oldest relic of human industry is a bit
of hemp fabric dating back to approximately 8,000 BC.
2) Presidents Washington and Jefferson both grew hemp. Americans were
legally bound to grow hemp during the Colonial Era and Early
Republic. The federal government subsidized hemp during the Second
World War and US farmers grew about a million acres of hemp as part
of that program.
3) Hemp Seed is far more nutritious than even soybean, contains more
essential fatty acids than any other source, is second only to
soybeans in complete protein (but is more digestible by humans), is
high in B-vitamins, and is 35% dietary fiber. Hemp seed is not
psychoactive and cannot be used as a drug.
4) The bark of the hemp stalk contains bast fibers which are among
the Earth's longest natural soft fibers and are also rich in
cellulose; the cellulose and hemi-cellulose in its inner woody core
are called hurds. Hemp stalk is not psychoactive. Hemp fiber is
longer, stronger, more absorbent and more insulative than cotton fiber.
5) According to the Department of Energy, hemp as a biomass fuel
producer requires the least specialized growing and processing
procedures of all hemp products. The hydrocarbons in hemp can be
processed into a wide range of biomass energy sources, from fuel
pellets to liquid fuels and gas. Development of biofuels could
significantly reduce our consumption of fossil fuels and nuclear power.
6) Hemp grows well without herbicides, fungicides, or pesticides.
Almost half of the agricultural chemicals used on US crops are
applied to cotton.
7) Hemp produces more pulp per acre than timber on a sustainable
basis, and can be used for every quality of paper. Hemp paper
manufacturing can reduce wastewater contamination. Hemp's low lignin
content reduces the need for acids used in pulping, and it's creamy
color lends itself to environmentally friendly bleaching instead of
harsh chlorine compounds. Less bleaching results in less dioxin and
fewer chemical byproducts.
8) Hemp fiber paper resists decomposition, and does not yellow with
age when an acid-free process is used. Hemp paper more than 1,500
years old has been found. It can also be recycled more times.
9) Hemp fiberboard produced by Washington State University was found
to be twice as strong as wood-based fiberboard.
10) Eco-Friendly hemp can replace most toxic petrochemical products.
Research is being done to use hemp in manufacturing biodegradable
plastic products: plant-based cellophane, recycled plastic mixed with
hemp for injection-molded products, and resins made from the oil, to
name just a very few examples.
Check back for more...