In 2014, hemp farming was legal in only a few pilot programs in specific areas in America. At that time, hemp farming at an industrial level was illegal.
However, that changed with the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill. Hemp was removed from the Controlled Substances Act and within a short period, many farmers started growing the crop on a large scale, thanks to the economic and environmental benefits of industrial hemp.
With the increasing awareness of global warming, many people are looking for more eco-friendly resources for a more sustainable future. Hemp may be one of the sustainable resources leading the way in the climate change revolution.
But how is hemp use achieving this feat? Here’s everything you need to know about hemp and the environment.
10 Environmental Benefits of Hemp You Should Know
Industrial hemp is a variety of the Cannabis sativa species that’s mainly grown for the industrial uses of its products. Hemp fiber has been in use for more than 10,000 years, and it’s currently one of the fastest-growing commodities in the country.
Here are some of its environmental benefits:
1. Growing Hemp Can Clean the Environment Through Carbon Dioxide Bioremediation
High levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere cause global warming. Fortunately, hemp can help reduce this. The plant consumes four times as much carbon dioxide as trees, thus significantly reducing our carbon footprint. To be more precise, for every ton of hemp produced, 1.63 tons of carbon dioxide is removed from the air.
2. Hemp Regenerates the Soil
Besides providing nutrient-rich mulch and compost to the soil, hemp also has long taproots rich in glycoside (an organic molecule that binds with toxins such as strontium and cesium in the soil, making them inactive). In fact, hemp was used to decontaminate the land after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
3. Hemp Promotes Sustainable Farming
Hemp plants are hardy rotational crops that take as little as 4-6 months to grow. They aren’t climate-sensitive and can be grown with and without irrigation in both, making them extremely versatile.
4. Hemp is Naturally Resistant to Disease and Pests
The use of chemicals, pesticides, and fungicides have a disastrous effect on the environment. They contaminate the soil, waterways, and air while reducing biodiversity in the ecosystem.
Hemp is naturally resilient to many pests and diseases, so it needs little to no farming chemicals. It can grow on unproductive land and survive the harshest of climates. As a result, hemp can be instrumental in combating food insecurity the world over.
5. Hemp Prevents Soil Erosion
Soil erosion goes beyond the loss of soil fertility. It can also lead to increased sedimentation and pollution of waterways, causing a decline in fish and other water species. Additionally, degraded land has a lower capacity to hold onto water which worsens flooding.
The roots of the hemp plant grow strong and deep to hold the soil particles together to prevent erosion.
6. Hemp Conserves Water Usage
In comparison to other crops such as cotton, hemp uses far less water to grow. To produce two pounds of cotton fiber, cotton farmers use about 20,000 liters of water. In comparison, you need 300-500 liters of water to grow a similar amount of hemp fiber. The hemp plant also retains water for itself, thus encouraging water conservation.
7. Hemp is Biodegradable and Recyclable
Over the last decade, billions of pounds of plastic wastes have caused harmful impacts on the environment and its habitats. These plastics not only leak chemicals into the soil and groundwater, but are also invasive to the breeding of a range of species because they take years to decompose.
The use of hemp bioplastic is safe and healthy for the environment because it’s entirely biodegradable and doesn’t contain any toxins like in regular plastics. Hemp biomatter takes only six months to decompose while plastics can take as much as 1,000 years.
8. Hemp Can Help Reduce Deforestation
Hemp has real potential to be a substitute resource for the paper sourced from trees. A single acre of hemp can produce the same amount of paper as four acres of trees. Additionally, while trees take years to mature, hemp can be grown in just four months.
Even better, hemp paper is recyclable more times than paper from the wood. You can recycle wood pulp paper up to three times, while hemp paper can be recycled up to eight times.
9. Hemp is a Sustainable Source of Fuel
The world heavily depends on a variety of natural fuel sources such as petroleum, natural gas, and coal. Sadly, the extraction and use of these natural sources are unsustainable for the future.
For instance, the drilling, extraction, and transportation of natural gas is the main cause of methane leaked into the environment. Methane is 34 times stronger than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere (global warming).
Fortunately, industrial hemp seeds are a natural, practical source of biodiesel that can power the vehicles and machinery. The production, manufacture, and use of hemp biofuel is eco-friendly. Even better, it’s just as effective as the regular fuel.
10. Hemp is a Versatile Textile
Synthetic fabrics such as polyester can burn through millions of oil barrels a year. This energy-intensive production emits harmful greenhouse gases like nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide.
Besides having a carbon-negative production process, industrial hemp textile has a higher tensile strength than synthetic fabrics and cotton. Additionally, it’s UV-resistant, anti-bacterial, and mold-resistant, making it a better material for all climates. You can use hemp textiles in a variety of ways including making clothing, ropes, shoes, and bags.
Let’s Realize the Environmental Benefits of Industrial Hemp
The world is suffering from a plastic pollution menace. Billions of pounds of plastic are floating in the ocean and breaking up our ecosystem. If this goes on, we may never have a future.
However, with all the environmental benefits of hemp, the world can be hopeful of a much sustainable future for the next generations. Besides being eco-friendly, hemp is also a superfood that’s rich in all the essential nutrients. Without a doubt, hemp is the future!