Since the industrial revolution, our earth is getting warmer with each passing day. Earth’s surface temperature is rising at the rate of 0.2 degrees centigrade per decade. Since 1880 earth’s average surface temperature has risen by 2 degrees centigrade. Although the figure seems small this rise is having some serious repercussions for our environment.
We are now facing more frequent and more intense heat waves and droughts. Sea levels are rising and coastal infrastructures in several countries are under threat of vanishing. Our glaciers are melting fast and we risk losing our marine resources due to the increasing acidity of oceans. All of these climate change aspects are attributed to human activities especially to the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation.
For our survival and sustainable development, we need to preserve our life-sustaining environment. Besides opting for alternative energy sources, we need to do more plantations so that we can live and thrive in a friendlier environment. Hemp can help us in preserving our environment. Besides, preserving the environment, hemp is also used productively in several modern industries like paper and construction.
Hemps uses in Paper Manufacturing
There are two major reasons for which the trees are chopped down; clearing land for agriculture use to meet the food requirements of burgeoning human population and using forest wood in industries like construction and paper manufacturing. Since the 1960s, the global consumption of wood-derived products has risen 64% and it is estimated that global paper demand will reach 80% in 2050.
For keeping up with the increasing demand more and more trees are chopped down and in consequence, forests are devastated. Besides deforestation, paper, and pulp industry a major polluter industrial sector-it adds about 220 million pounds of waste and toxic chemicals to air and water annually. Also, the conventional wood-pulp paper requires toxic bleaching agents in its manufacturing process. Hemp has the potential to be used as an alternative paper source to the damaging and traditional wood-pulp.
Hemp is an excellent substitute for paper manufacture
To start with, hemp is a highly productive plant. For instance, in Ukraine poplar wood-pulp produces 5.1 tons of paper per acre annually while hemp can produce up to 4.05 tons of paper per acre annually-this is 4-5 times more, the indigenous forests of Ukraine can produce.
Secondly, hemp paper doesn’t require any toxic bleaching agents for its manufacturing; instead, it only requires hydrogen peroxide- a nontoxic chemical. Also hemp paper is superior in quality to pulp paper.
Hemp paper is resistant to decomposition and therefore it lasts longer as compared to wood-pulp paper. The library of Congress noted that books made of hemp paper last 300-400 years on average whereas the books made with traditional pulp paper decompose in 50 years on average.
A single Hemp Crop provides material for a range of different uses
Finally, valuable chemicals can be extracted from hemp before using its stems for paper manufacturing. This has made hemp plant a more lucrative option for both farmers and industrialists. Still, the hemp can be genetically modified to increase per acre yield. These all promising aspects of hemp paper are making the hemp a good alternative to pulp paper.
Hemps uses in the Construction Industry
Likewise paper manufacturing, the construction industry is also degrading our environment. Since ancient times, timber from forests is used as a construction material. Just like the prehistoric era, timber is still playing its part in the construction and for acquiring this timber; forests are ruthlessly chopped down all over the globe. But, fortunately, hemp can also be used in the construction in place of forest timber.
The hemp plant has the potential to be used as a construction material. In fact, France has already started exploring the construction potential of hemp and began using it as a versatile construction material. Two valuable products are derived from hemp’s stems-hurds and fibers. From hurds products like paneling, insulation, roofing tiles, and even structural timber are produced while fibers are used in bale wall construction.
Hemp is an excellent building material
Using hemp in construction proves very beneficial as hemp is lightweight, recyclable, sustainable, and its maintenance cost is low. Besides, hemp is a non-flammable substance which means that the building will be safer with hemp rather than with forest timbers. Also, hemp has great insulation properties that translate into safer and comfortable buildings.
Hemp lime can also be used in construction in place of traditional lime (quicklime). Hemp lime exhibits excellent insulating properties and it is also lightweight as compared to quicklime.
Due to lighter hemp-lime, load on foundations are considerably reduced. In addition to lime, construction blocks can also be manufactured from hemp-lime. With its increasing popularity in the construction industry of France, other countries also started to use hemp in construction.
What is the rate we chop down trees for building and paper?
For meeting the increasing global demand for wood and wood-related products (mainly for paper and construction), the forests are chopped down at an alarming rate globally.
Still, 30% of the earth’s land is covered by forests but they are disappearing fast. According to the World Bank, between 1990 and 2016, 1.3 million square kilometers-an area larger than South Africa- has been cleared of forests. 46% of trees have been chopped down so far and about 17% of Amazonian rainforests have been chopped down in the last fifty years.
The rate of deforestation has reached an alarming level of 64 million acres annually and only half of this area is compensated by planting new forests. This deforestation rate is not uniform worldwide. The tropical rainforests are destroyed at a comparatively faster pace. Honduras, Nigeria, and The Philippines are destroying their respective forests at the fastest pace among all the countries.
We need trees to breath
All this forest destruction is in place to meet the human requirements of food, mining, and industry. The paper and construction industries have a lion share in this destruction. For instance, the United States consumes 30% of the world’s paper.
For its exorbitant paper consumption, forests are chopped down and now only 5% of virgin forests remain intact in the US. Since 1916, the US has lost around 70% of its indigenous forests. Similarly, almost all primary forests of the United Kingdom, Europe, and North America have been destroyed. This massive deforestation has jeopardized our environment and now it is high time to stop this destruction.
Planting new forests and using hemp in paper and construction industries can help and save us.
Hemp has a much wider range of uses
Use in the Textile Industry:
Hemp can help us in halting deforestation by replacing wood in industrial sectors particularly in paper and construction industries. Hemp is also used in other industries for example in textile i.e. clothing manufacturing.
Hemp clothing has several obvious advantages over traditional clothing. First of all, hemp produces per acre 300% more raw material as compared to traditional sources for example cotton.
Next, no pesticides are required for hemp plant and it means that no waterways, underground water sources, or soil will be polluted by harmful pesticides chemicals. Another benefit of hemp clothing is that hemp clothing is 300% stronger than traditional clothing.
Finally, hemp clothing is 400% warmer and exhibit higher water-absorption properties as compared to conventional clothing.
Other Industrial Uses:
Other industrial uses of hemp include biofuel and plastic manufacturing. Clean burning and environmentally friendly fuels like ethanol can be made from hemp seeds. Hemp has the potential to provide substantial amounts of biofuel.
Hemp can also be used for producing a wide range of useful products like detergents, paints, ink, lubricating oil, and plastics. Hemp-derived plastics are biodegradable, reliable, and stronger than poly vinyl-based plastics.
Hemp as a Nutrition Source: Besides industrial uses, hemp can also be very helpful in a variety of other ways. First of all, it is a nutritious plant and is a good source of vegan protein. Proteins are healthy sources of bodily energy and they are also critical parts of body structures like bones, hair, skin, and muscles.
Proteins are required for maintaining good health. Hemp protein is a complete protein source as it contains all of the nine essential amino acids. 20 grams of hemp seeds contain about 6.31 grams of proteins, how a rich protein source hemp seeds are!
In addition to proteins, hemp also contains vital nutrients like calcium, iron, magnesium, folate, phosphorus, zinc, potassium, and dietary fibers in addition to proteins, carbohydrates, and healthy fats. Fats of hemp include omega-3 and omega-6 which are beneficial for human health and increase the level of good cholesterol (HDL) in the blood.
Hemps’ Role in Environment Preservation:
Finally, hemp can help in the restoration of the environment. Hemp plant requires no harmful pesticides as it is a pest-resistant plant. Hemp shows extraordinary carbon absorption properties-a ton of hemp fibre can lock 2 tons of atmospheric carbon. So it can help reduce the rate of global warming by eating up a large portion of atmospheric carbon. The hemp plant can also be used for clearing water impurities especially impurities of wastewater. The hemp plant was used for clearing the toxins at the Chernobyl nuclear disaster site by the process of phytoremediation—the process of clearing radioisotopes and other toxins from the soil, water, and air.
As we hope you can see, hemp is truly a plant that could have enormous enviromental impacts on the world, by changing the mindset that the general population has towards cannabis in general, we can open more peoples eyes to the wonders of industrial cannabis and the potential it has for changing the course of the enviromental crisis we all face at the moment!
By making small changes to your purchases, over time you make a larger difference than you can begin to realise, by leading the way in making wiser consumer choices, you can be part of the solution!
Check out our range of hemp based protein sources, an excellent alternative to whey that is not just better for the enviroment, but much better for the body as well!
Read our Blog About: Think about hemp!