Hemp, or industrial hemp, is a plant in the cannabis family grown for the products it can make, unlike marijuana which is mainly grown for its psychoactive properties. It is produced very economically as it utilizes most of the land its grown on, matures in 103 – 120 days, can thrive in many different climates conditions and because most of the plants’ parts are used. People use it for its flowers, leaves, seeds and its stem meaning it does not leave much waste.
Some hemp products are used as nutrients. The seeds are referred to as superfoods as they contain high amounts of proteins, fatty acids, and fiber. It’s one of the few plant proteins containing nine of the essential amino acids meaning they can be used as a good supplement for vegans and can even be given to those facing starvation. Hemp seed oil and CBD oil is used for its medicinal value for both humans and animals as it has anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-depressant, neuroprotective and pain relieving qualities.
Hemp is also an excellent alternative to fossil fuels as it can be used to make biofuels. Biofuels are fuel sources from organic matter. Hemp oil can be used as engine fuel, as a lubricant, in making bioplastics and in making paints and oils. One of the advantages of using biofuels is that they do not produce harmful by-products to the environment and they are biodegradable. Hemp’s fast growth rate may be the best solution for fuel as current fossil fuel sources get depleted.
Hemp stems are a rich source of bast fiber. The first paper was made in China in 100BC. Hemp bast fiber is more durable than paper from trees, yields more paper, is recyclable eight times compared to wood paper which is recyclable three times and may help reduce deforestation because it grows much faster than trees. This bast fiber is also used in making textiles in a new ongoing trend pushing for sustainable fashion options. This fiber is also being incorporated into making bioplastics, and composite bioplastics as hemp is high in collagen. Furthermore, the fiber from hemp hurds can be combined with a lime-based binder is used in making hempcrete which is used in construction for example as a heat and noise insulating material.
The plant is also being used in bioremediation properties. Bioremediation is the process of removing toxins from soil, water, and air. It can be used to rehabilitate soil after nuclear disasters as it can pull radioactive isotopes from the soil. It is also being utilized in cleaning sewage water, and it may be used to absorb smog in industrialized towns reducing the effects of chemicals in the air. Mass growth of the plant will also help reduce the greenhouse effect by absorbing CO2 from the environment and produce more oxygen
Industrial hemp, as illustrated, has many uses and many are being discovered regularly. It is particularly useful as it will help us reverse some of the effects pollution has caused on our planet while assisting countries achieve some of their sustainable development goals