Of all the wondrous organisms flourishing on the planet, hemp is one plant that has the potential to ease the earth’s greatest woes. Although the idea of a plant capable of changing the world may seem a bit far-fetched—and sound like something straight out of Little Shop of Horrors—hemp’s versatility and usefulness are certainly undeniable.
Hemp, or industrial hemp, is the non-psychoactive variety of the Cannabis sativa L. plant. Although they may come from the same species, hemp contains less than 1% THC (the mind-altering chemical found in marijuana). Possessing hemp may be legal, but growing it is a completely different story. Due to hemp’s association to marijuana, growing the plant for commercial purposes was federally prohibited for many decades until the passing of the 2014 Farm Bill—which made the cultivation of hemp legal again in certain states. This is certainly a step in the right direction considering how beneficial hemp is for the environment and its inhabitants as well! Here are 9 reasons why hemp is the key to a sustainable and healthier future.
1. Hemp Is Highly Nutritious
Move aside, flax and chia seeds—hemp seeds are the newest superfood, and they pack a powerfully nutritious punch! Considered a nut, hemp seeds contain all nine essential amino acids and consist of over 30 percent healthy fats, including linoleum acid (omega-6) and alpha-linoleic acid (omega-3). Hemp seeds are also a great source of fiber, vitamin E, sodium, calcium, iron, zinc, and are an excellent choice for plant-based protein—with 5.3 grams of protein packed into every tablespoon!
2. Hemp Has Numerous Health Benefits
Sadly, 1 in every 4 deaths is caused by heart disease. Due to their many heart-healthy compounds, hemp seeds may help reduce the risk of this disease—increasing blood flow to the heart, reducing blood pressure, and decreasing the chance of blood clots. If you have dry, flaky skin, hemp seeds have also been known to improve skin disorders—a major win if you suffer from eczema or psoriasis!
3. Hemp Is Easier To Cultivate
Unlike other crops that require large amounts of water and pesticides to thrive, industrial hemp is incredibly easy to grow—requiring little to no irrigation and providing a natural resistance to insects. Hemp plants grow relatively tall and provide much shade to the surrounding soil, also eliminating the need for herbicides as weeds are unable to grow without adequate sunlight. Hemp is incredibly strong and grows very quickly with the average growing cycle being about 12 to 14 weeks. This makes it a far superior option to other crops.
4. Hemp Can Replace Plastic
Each year, humans generate around 300 million tons of plastic—91% of which goes unrecycled. Hemp bioplastics are an affordable alternative to the excessive amounts of plastic waste piling up in landfills and oceans. Conventional plastics are made from a plethora of chemicals commonly derived from oil, gas, or coal. Hemp plastics skip the use of these harmful chemicals, instead relying on the plant’s natural cellulose. Hemp plastics are completely biodegradable and are already being produced in many countries such as Australia.
5. Hemp Is An Eco-Friendly Building Material
Hemp, the newest green building material, can be made into sustainable forms of concrete, rope, carpeting, caulking, and even bricks! Although using hemp for building purposes is nothing new (there are buildings in India made from hemp that date back thousands of years!), the plant is quickly making a come back as more companies strive to make environmentally sound products.
6. Hemp Can Help Reduce Deforestation
Along with plastics, paper appears to be another inescapable part of our daily lives. In order to satisfy global demands for paper goods, nearly 7 billion trees are cut down each year! The effects of this type of mass deforestation are far-reaching, negatively impacting the lives of those living in targeted areas, causing the loss of biodiversity, and greatly reducing available carbon sinks. Industrial hemp paper can replace traditional paper without these negative consequences and minus all of the unnecessary chemicals commonly used to make paper. Unlike trees that can take decades to grow, hemp regenerates in a matter of months—making it not only a sustainable option but a cost-effective one as well. Surprisingly, hemp paper was commonly used up until the 19th century, and the original Declaration of Independence was even drafted on it!
7. Hemp Is A Terrific Alternative To Cotton
Let’s face it, cotton production is no bueno. It’s incredibly damaging to the environment (major carbon footprint) because it requires massive amounts of water, energy, and chemicals to produce. On the contrary, hemp production requires about half the amount of water it takes to grow conventional cotton and doesn’t entail all of the nasty chemicals. Industrial hemp production is also far more abundant, with 1 acre of hemp yielding the same amount of crops as 2 to 3 acres of cotton.
8. Hemp Is The Fuel Of The Future
Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company, had the right idea when he created a car that was able to run on hemp biofuel. Even more incredible is the fact that the car, called the Model T, was made from hemp plastic! Hemp fuel is certainly safer for the environment as it doesn’t release carbon dioxide into the air, is biodegradable, and eliminates the need for oil refineries.
9. Hemp Can Help Combat Climate Change
Without a doubt, industrial hemp is a 100% sustainable resource capable of easing the world’s dependency on fossil fuels thereby combating global warming. This would be ideal considering fossil fuels are to blame for much of the air pollution seen today. When burned, fossil fuels (primarily gas, oil, or coal) release absurd amounts of carbon dioxide into the air. Not only does hemp not emit these harmful pollutants, it is actually capable of absorbing four times the amount of carbon dioxide when compared to a tree! Along with removing pollutants from the air, hemp can also absorb toxins and radioactive materials from the ground.
Are you a hemp convert?
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