By 2026, the hemp market is estimated to surge up to $13.03 billion – and there’s a good reason behind this. Not only does hemp have thousands of uses, but it also returns depleted nutrients to the soil by 60-70%.
Over the last decades, we’ve seen the effects of unsustainable practices hitting our society from all angles. Implementing sustainable industrial and farming methods can help alleviate the challenges and pave the way for a better future for the next generation. However, a feasible plan is needed to succeed from a social, economic, and environmental view.
But is hemp sustainable enough to save our planet? Here’s everything you need to know.
What is Hemp?
Hemp, which belongs to the same species as Cannabis Sativa (but with little or no THC) was used widely in America before an anti-drug sentiment in the 1940s rendered it unpopular. However, recently the country is turning the tide on the use of cannabis, and hemp is making a comeback.
Hemp contains a strong fibrous material that can be used to manufacture a wide range of products. Additionally, hemp is a more sustainable alternative to other traditional crops such as cotton as it consumes less water and occupies less space.
Although it’s closely related to cannabis, hemp is a wonder crop that doesn’t come with the psychoactive effect. With more than 25,000 uses, the hemp plant can efficiently sustain several industries and shield us from the consequences linked to irresponsible manufacturing and farming.
What Does Implementing Sustainable Practices Involve?
To revitalize and protect natural resources and curb climate change, focusing on sustainable practices is crucial. The best way to implement this is by focusing on the main pillars of sustainability, including:
This involves access to services, health, nutrition, education, and skills. Space and natural resources are limited and there’s an urgent need to balance continual growth with improvements in health.
Sustainable practices should uphold all human rights. This covers areas such as social injustice, inequality, fair wages, and other human-related issues. For real sustainability, industrial and farming practices must impact society positively.
This aims at improving the standard of living of the society. It refers to the efficient use of resources to maintain profitability over time.
With the finite amount of natural resources on the planet, managing them efficiently is crucial for human survival. Therefore, sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, and other environmentally friendly approaches must be adopted.
9 Ways Hemp Can Be the Key to Sustainability
Hemp offers sustainable solutions to meet the four essential human needs: food, energy, shelter, and clothes. But how does it make it possible?
1. Remarkably Environmentally Positive
As a crop, hemp requires nearly 50% less water to survive per season than cotton. It can also grow on different soils to produce high yields.
As a textile, hemp is versatile, long-lasting, and biodegradable. Additionally, it’s UV-resistant, breathable, and gets softer with age, making it ideal for all seasons.
2. Replenish High Amount of Nutrients to the Soil
Inappropriate farming practices can deplete nutrients and vital micro-organisms from the soil. This may lead to soil degradation, reduced productivity, and lower crop yields.
Hemp is sustainable because, during the retting process, it returns a high amount of nutrients to the soil. This reduces erosion and keeps farms productive longer. Therefore, consider doing crop rotation with hemp for better yields.
3. High Yield, Little Space
Hemp not only thrives in various types of climates and soils but also does well in limited spaces. It’s estimated that one acre of hemp can produce up to 8.7 tons of fiber under favorable conditions. With such promising yields, farmers can decrease land usage without compromising on finances or yields.
4. Natural Resistance to Pests, Fungus, and Diseases
The use of artificial fungicides, pesticides, and other farm chemicals can lead to erosion and increase your carbon footprint. Unlike other crops, hemp has a natural resistance to diseases, pests, and fungi. As a farmer, you don’t have to worry about using excessive farm chemicals to protect your crops.
5. Help Save Trees
From research, it’s estimated that at least 19 million acres of rain forests are lost each year. With this worrying trend, large portions of the forests are still being cut down to make products such as paper. Remember, deforestation is a major contributor to global warming.
Fortunately, the hemp plant can prevent the massive deforestation caused by the paper industry. Hemp contains a high concentration of cellulose than trees, making it a sustainable option to produce durable paper without depleting scarce resources and destroying the environment.
6. Versatile Uses
While most people are conversant with hemp textiles, the plant can also be used to make organic soaps, oils, biofuel, construction materials, and so much more. Even better, all of these products are eco-friendly, durable, and effective.
For example, hempcrete is non-toxic, energy-saving, and naturally resistant to mold, fire, and pests. You can, therefore, reduce carbon emissions in your home by building with hemp.
Hemp seeds produce a variety of nutritious foods and supplements such as hemp milk, hemp oil, hemp butter, and hemp energy bars. The seeds have a nutty flavor and are high in proteins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids. In fact, in case of food emergency, you can survive on hemp seeds alone.
8. Perfect Plastic Alternative
In the 1940s, Henry Ford designed a car from soy plastic and hemp. Recently, Lotus used hemp composites to build auto body spoilers and panels. After that, several motor brands have adopted hemp bioplastics to make seats, boot covers, door panels, and columns.
Hemp plastics are cheaper, lighter, and more reliable than conventional plastic and glass. More importantly, they’re biodegradable. Plastic can take up to 1,000 years to fully decompose. On the other hand, hemp products take as little as six months.
9. Contribute to the U.S. Economy
Most sustainable hemp products in America are imported from Canada and China. However, with hemp laws changing, the U.S. can capitalize on this market. Currently, the industrial hemp market in the USA is estimated at $500 million a year, and this can break the billion-dollar in the next few years – boosting the economy.
Attaining a Sustainable Future with Hemp
Globally, hemp is becoming a popular crop for different reasons. Although the country may be decades behind other regions, legislation such as the 2018 Farm Bill has sensitized more and more farmers to invest in hemp.
Without a doubt, hemp cultivation and use can help us establish a sustainable future for the next generation.
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