Hemp is an extremely durable and comfortable natural fiber with great potential to be grown sustainably.
what is hemp?
Hemp fiber is collected from a plant in the species cannabis sativa. Wait – isn’t that WEED?! No. Well, yea kind of. But no. Hemp is kind of like a cousin of weed. Hemp contains 0.3% or less THC (which is the psychoactive bit of weed). The cannabis you’re thinking of usually has between 5%-20% THC. You can’t get high off of hemp, so don’t light your tee on fire. But anyway, for some reason, the US still made cultivating hemp illegal in 1937. Just (pretty) recently in 2014, President Obama signed a provision to remove hemp from the Controlled Substances Act and farmers can now grow it for research.
Meanwhile, up in Canada, the hemp market is nearing a whopping $1 billion a year. In 2013, Canadian farmers reported profiting $250 an acre for their hemp crops. To put that in perspective, American farmers profit $71 an acre for soy – which is considered a cash crop.
So, it looks like dope isn’t dope. Now, on to hemp clothing (and no it won’t make you smell like weed).
Hemp is a lightweight fabric with a similar drape to linen. Hemp clothing is UV, mold, and mildew resistant, while being highly absorbent and breathable. It is an excellent fabric for outdoor gear. The tensile strength of hemp fiber is three times that of cotton, meaning hemp clothing has a long product lifespan. Since hemp clothing is naturally antimicrobial, you don’t need to wash it as often. This benefit further reduces wear on the product as well as water consumption during its lifespan. Hemp clothing dyes easily and retains the color well, which also means hemp clothing uses much less water during the dyeing process.
Hemp clothing does get softer with each wash, so you may want to throw it in for a spin even if you don’t need to. When you do wash hemp clothing, it is an easy, no hassle clean. It can withstand hot or cold water, and if the article is preshrunk, it can be tumble dried as well.
the impact of hemp clothing on the environment
Hemp clothing is very low impact on the environment. As a crop, hemp requires no synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, or GMO seeds. This means there is no pesticide, insecticide, or synthetic fertilizer pollution of ground water, soil, or air, in areas where hemp is grown. Hemp is a fast growing crop that requires little water. It is a high yield crop that produces significantly more fiber per acre than crops like cotton (in fact, 250% more fiber than cotton). Hemp enriches the soil it is grown in, making it an excellent rotating crop. Hemp can also be grown as a carbon negative crop.