Hemp has been in use since 770 AD. Since that time, it has been used to make everything from rope to clothing, to paper. A step away from cotton, the drape and hang of hemp has been compared to linen. Like a baseball glove you’ve had for ten years, hemp fabric becomes softer with use. Hemp also absorbs moisture quickly, keeping your body dry. Being one of the most durable fibers on earth, hemp isn’t going anywhere for a long time, except out of our country. Hemp is illegal to grow in the US, even though the hemp plant is different from the marijuana plant and doesn’t get anyone high. What you inhale is your business, but the business we’re concerned with is bringing this great fabric back into the awareness of the public.
Because hemp is more water-absorbent than cotton, it will retain dye better than any other fabric, keeping your colors from fading better than Tide can. Hemp also has a porous personality that allows it to breathe, keeping you cool in the summer. And like bamboo and wool, hemp is warmer in cooler weather.
Our friend hemp is a versatile plant and it also has a few heavy-weight titles. Hemp is the longest and strongest plant fiber. Because we are very concerned about our natural resource, water, it is heart-warming to know that hemp only uses 1/20th the amount of water to grow and process as regular cotton. Hemp is naturally less vulnerable to insects and crowds out other weeds so pesticides and fertilizers become obsolete when we deal with hemp.
- Hemp protects your skin by naturally filtering UV light.
- Hemp resists bacterial growth and breathes excellently, preventing odors.
- Hemp has four times the strength of cotton; It won’t weaken when washed.
- Hemp retains color better than any other fabric.
- It saves Water! Hemp uses only 1/20th the amount of water as regular cotton to grow and process.
- Also, Hemp uses almost no water to grow and can usually be rain-fed.
- It saves Jobs! Hemp is harvested and processed by hand, keeping people employed.
- Unlike cotton which depletes the soil of nutrients, hemp can be grown consecutively for over twenty years without the soil being affected.
- Hemp is illegal to grow in the U.S., though not illegal to import.
- Hemp is deliciously soft on the skin, more and more with each wear.
HEMP IS AWESOME IN OTHER MATERIALS, TOO.
Hemp can be worked into other materials like advanced composites which make everything from fast-food containers to skateboard decks to the body of a stealth fighter. The cellulose level of hemp is almost three times that of wood, which makes it a better choice for making paper and turns out four times as much pulp per acre than trees. It also uses less chemicals to process than regular paper, so we don’t have to worry about having three-eyed frogs as a by-product. Making paper with hemp doesn’t create any of the 2,000 chlorinated organic compounds that are by-products of the wood paper process. In the Upper Midwest and South, studies have shown that hemp fiber can be grown less expensively than wood fiber for paper. The long fibers in hemp let hemp be recycled seven times as opposed to wood-based papers which can only be recycled three times. And the cherry on top, hemp paper is naturally acid-free and can last up to 1,500 years, while wood papers only last 25-100 years. This is why bibles are often made with hemp paper so they will last longer.
Because of the low lignin content of hemp compared to wood, paper can be pulped with less chemicals. Hemp can be bleached with hydrogen peroxide rather than chlorine, which is better for the environment. Chlorine has been credited or discredited with helping pollute the Great Lakes. And yes, fish are still caught and sold for consumption out of waters polluted by mass amounts of chemicals.
Hemp is also a speedy little guy when it comes to growth. It’s ready for harvest only 120 days after going to seed, whereas trees can take hundreds of years, and usually take more than ten years. Like our friend bamboo, hemp can grow almost anywhere from the extremes of the Saharan desert all the way up to Scandinavia. The hemp plant prefers to live in tropical zones or moderately cool temperate climates, which would make the US a perfect growing zone for hemp.
HEMP IS ILLEGAL TO GROW IN THE U.S. -DARN
Hemp is illegal to grow in the United States. It has been mixed up and thought of as interchangeable with marijuana. Gasp. The misconceptions about hemp have caused it to be banned, have resulted in mass sprayings with pesticides over countries that grow the plant. But don’t fret. There are a few enlightened countries that have figured out the truth. China, England, France, Russia and even our friendly neighbor to the north, Canada all grow hemp. In Ontario, Canada, hemp was rotated as a crop with soybeans and ended up reducing cyst nematode infestation by 50-75%, reducing the need for more pesticides. In England, hemp is grown as a rotation crop with wheat, which has resulted in a 20% increase in wheat yield without any commensurate increase in chemicals. We can import hemp products into the US, so your shirts are perfectly legal to wear and be proud of.
MORE AMAZING FEATURES ABOUT THE PLANT
The roots of the hemp plant are like tentacles reaching out under the earth. They can grow to twelve inches long in only a month, which helps prevent erosion of topsoil. The roots can grow up to lengths of three feet or longer. They anchor into the soil and preserve the topsoil and subsoil, keeping them healthy for years without needing to rotate the crop, unlike cotton which depletes the soil of nutrients. Hemp can be grown consecutively for over twenty years without the soil being affected.
Hemp uses almost no water to grow and can usually be rain-fed. When the hemp plant is harvested, the roots remain and the leaves are returned to the fields to keep the soil rich. To tell the truth, hemp leaves the soil in better condition than before it was planted. The plant giveth and giveth and giveth.
This amazing plant gives four times as much fiber (not that you’re going to want to eat the plant, but that can happen too, at least the seeds can be eaten to help clean you out, but the fiber yield is even higher than the fastest growing trees, and up to 600% more fiber than flax.
Like organic cotton, hemp is harvested and processed by hand, keeping people employed.
HEMP VS. MARIJUANA
Even though the hemp plant has a bad reputation, it is a good plant. In the US, this plant has been made out to be the same as marijuana, but hemp only has a THC content (the substance that gets you high) of 0.05%, while marijuana’s THC count is between 3-20%. Smoking hemp would get you nothing more than a few trips to the bathroom – it acts as a laxative. Not worth the effort. And no, we haven’t tried smoking our hemp T-shirts. Well, maybe.
One of the reasons the government combats the growth of hemp is they say they can’t tell the difference between the hemp plants and marijuana plants. There is a huge difference. Marijuana plants are grown in widely spaced areas to maximize the leaf growth, while hemp plants are grown close together to maximize the stalk, which is where all the great fibers from hemp come from.
Another benefit is that every part of the hemp plant can be used by humans from the root to the stalk, the leaf, the flower, the seeds the pollen and even the resin. Some other uses for hemp are charcoal, tars, methane and other flammable gasses that could help heat homes, for cooking and for the generation of electricity.
Right now the U.S. government owns 90 million acres of farmland, where the government pays farmers not to grow crops. On a portion of this area alone, enough hemp could be grown to replace the use of fossil fuels and trees.
The average acre of farmland can provide ten tons of hemp in four months. Because it’s resistant to UV radiation, this plant is a shoe-in for success after we deplete the ozone layer. It is happening. Trust us.
HEMP AS HEALER
Another similarity to the bamboo, is that the hemp is used for healing. In the past, hemp has been found to reduce the intra-ocular pressure that causes blindness in glaucoma victims more safely and effectively than any other remedy. Not only that, but since we’re talking about hemp, let’s also take a look at marijuana. Marijuana provides relief from asthma, emphysema, anorexia, migraines, rheumatism, arthritis and insomnia. It also helps with the nausea that follows chemotherapy and with the wasting syndrome of AIDS.
The term “canvas” means hemp. It comes from Arabic term for hemp, which was Cannabis. Until recently canvas meant hemp cloth and was not associated with other materials.
MAPS, BIBLES AND HOUSES
Hemp can be used for many things other than shirts and paper, a few of which are mentioned above. Some other ways to use hemp are in nontoxic biodegradable inks, paints and varnishes, plant-based plastics such as cellophane and cellulose-based plastics. In construction, hemp can be used to make pressboard fiber, which usually come from immature trees. Hemp is superior in strength and quality to trees for this purpose. Also, panels, beams, studs and posts can be made out of hemp.
In France, entire houses are made out of hemp, as Madame France Perrier has demonstrated. Using an ancient Egyptian recipe for hemp-based concrete, Perrier mixes hemp hurds (the inner fiber) and limestone and water to form a substance stronger than cement with only 1/6th the weight. Because this hemp-based concrete is more flexible than regular concrete, these houses are better situated to withstand earthquakes.
In the 16th century, hemp was used to make maps, logs and Bibles because of its everlasting powers. Even today, some bibles are made of hemp because they will withstand the tests of time.
YUMMY HEMP PROTEIN
For the belly, hemp is a great source of vegetable protein. It has a full complement of essential amino acids and essential fatty-acids. It’s also been shown to lower blood cholesterol and dissolve plaque in coronary studies. It can be ground into flower and used to bake breads, cookies and all sorts of yummies. The seeds are extremely nutritious and can also be pressed into edible oil like soybeans. Marijuana comes from the same plant as hemp (Cannibis sativa L.) but so do broccoli and cauliflower. Even the birds like the hemp, they eat the seeds and used to be included in retail bird-seed for years. The porridge used in the folk tales was often made form boiled hemp seeds which could be cooked alone or with other grains. Another name for this porridge was gruel.
Hemp has moisturizing elements that are good for hair and skin.
HEMP CROPS DESTROYED
Between 1993 and 1997 in the US, over a half billion cannabis plants were found and destroyed by US drug agents. The shocking part is that only 14 million of those were marijuana plants. The rest were hemp.
HEMP AS A HISTORICAL STAR!
Hemp has had an illustrious history. A few places you will find hemp products are on the coverings of Conestoga wagons. They were also used in the saddlebags and blankets used on Paul Revere’s famous ‘midnight ride.’
The oldest found paper was made from 100% hemp in a Chinese text dating back to 770 AD. Hemp fabrics go all the way back to 8,000 BC in ancient Mesopotamia.
Hemp seeds have been found in archaeological sites around the world and the seeds were one of ancient China’s major grain crops. Hemp seeds were grown in Northern Europe since medieval times.
Christopher Columbus’ ships were fully rigged in hemp.
In the UK, 800-1800 AD indicates hemp crops were used until their peak around 100 AD before other crops began to be developed.
In the 16th century, Henry VIII encouraged farmers to plant hemp to help supply the British Navy, not only for sails, but they helped construct battleships. Hemp might also have been found in shoes, parachute webbing and baggage.
The US of A has its own fine history with hemp. Our Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution were written on hemp paper, not to mention the first US flag was made out of hemp. Both Jefferson and Washington were hemp farmers. These are our forefathers, the ones who realized and wrote down our rights. Early US governments demanded the cultivation of hemp and you could be jailed if you didn’t grow Indian hemp in Virginia, Massachusetts and Connecticut in the 18th century. Hemp was money. It was currency and was used to pay taxes for over 200 years. Try that today and the government will be knocking at your door and not to say thank you either. By the 1850’s there were almost 8,400 hemp plantations in the US that had at least 2,000 acres of land or more.
From 1842-1890 a cannabis extract was the second most prescribed drug in the US. Today, Canada grows hemp for health products and exports it to the US because of laws forbidding hemp plants to be grown on our soil.
And then the conspiracy theories begin. While hemp was being cultivated, the process was a long and laborious one. Meanwhile, advances had been made with chemicals that made pulping wood cheaper than hemp. Back in that day, they had no idea the effects of the chemicals they were developing or the widespread and long-lasting effects that continue through today. Back then, chemicals were business and Dupont who manufactured pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers backed cotton production, where their goods would be of greater service. They also developed a nylon fiber similar to hemp. In the Industrial Revolution, anything not-natural was hailed as better than natural. Oh, woe is me.
Anyhow, hemp was being billed as a Billion Dollar crop that could build products from dynamite to plastics. Henry Ford built the body of an automobile from hemp-based plastics in 1941. Hemp plastic could withstand ten times the impact without denting that regular plastics could. Where is that technology today? Perhaps it’s with all the other technologies that could reduce our dependence on foreign oils. In the ownership of the car and gas companies. Or maybe the aliens took them.
A machine was invented that helped speed up the hemp processing. This machine could harvest at a much cheaper price than anything harvested by hand. It looked like hemp was competing with cotton and wood and the problem was, the boys who liked the pesticides also had connections in Washington. DuPont and Hearst went to Secretary Andrew Mellon and conveniently a negative PR campaign was released against hemp. This propaganda claimed hemp and marijuana were the same thing and they would make people angry and destructive. Imagine how these people must have acted without it. The result was that both hemp and marijuana were labeled as narcotics. In 1937 the Marijuana Tax Act was passed which made it criminal to grow marijuana. Not that big of a deal until you realize they added a little bit in the Act that categorized hemp as marijuana. So it was now illegal to grow hemp. Marijuana became classified as a schedule 1 drug with cocaine and heroin.
Interestingly enough, this came back to bite the US in the ass, after the attack on Pearl Harbor. With our Philippine connection severed, the USDA created a film called Hemp for Victory to try to get farmers to start growing hemp again to support the war efforts. The government even subsidized hemp farms. About a million acres of hemp were grown in the Midwest. However, once the war was over, the hemp plants were shut down and the industry once again banned.
U.S. COMPANIES USING HEMP
U.S. companies that manufacture or sell products made with hemp include Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, a California company who manufactures the number-one-selling natural soap, and FlexForm Technologies, an Indiana company whose natural fiber materials are used in over 2 million cars. Hemp food manufacturers such as French Meadow Bakery, Living Harvest, Nature’s Path and Nutiva now make their products from Canadian hemp. Although hemp grows wild across the U.S., a vestige of centuries of hemp farming, the hemp for these products must be imported. Health Canada statistics show that 48,060 acres of industrial hemp were produced in Canada in 2006. Farmers in Canada have reported that hemp is one of the most profitable crops that they can grow. Hemp clothing is made around the world by well-known brands such as Patagonia, Bono’s Edun, Giorgio Armani..and right here at small-batch Naked Clothing