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Hemp vs the climate change

Date 2021-10-21

Let us guess: during the last hour you thought at least once of how unbearably  hot   it is. Or maybe you’ve been thinking about it every other minute of the last three weeks.

It’s getting more obvious than ever: climate is changing. Drastically.

Saving electricity, stopping buying water in plastic bottles, choosing a bike instead of a car is great, but we know it and you know it – it’s not enough.

It’s hard to ignore that we need to act bigger, change the ways we consume, dress, eat, travel and live.

However, even if it’s slightly depressing, there still is hope to improve the situation or at least not let it get terribly worse.

There are multiple ways to do it and as weird as it might sound,   growing and processing more hemp might help a loooot.

Here are 9 reasons why hemp is a planet-positive, climate change stopping culture.

1. Hemp saves water

Water is becoming an increasingly scarce resource, especially as more regions across the world face record-setting droughts.

One of the most water-hungry plants is cotton, which, controversially, is one of the most popular plants used in many industries.

The global average water footprint for 1kg of cotton is 10,000 litres of water. Hemp typically needs about 300-500 liters.

It also takes 1,1 square meter to grow 1 kg worth of fiber, while cotton requires 3.5 square meters.

Switching to hemp cloth from cotton can help farmers better manage their water supply and save money on a resource that’s only going to become more expensive.

2. Hemp absorbs CO2

One of the most common greenhouse gasses driving climate change is carbon dioxide – CO2.

CO2 is emitted by fossil fuels, livestock, and many industrial processes.

Plants absorb CO2, which is why planting trees is one of the most popular ways to offset carbon emissions.

However, hemp can absorb carbon much more efficiently than trees.

While it can take decades for newly planted trees to reach maturity, hemp can shoot up 4m in 100 days.
One hectare of industrial hemp can absorb 22 tonnes of CO2 per hectare. One hectare of trees captures 1 to 10 tonnes of CO2 per year.

Hemp can also grow just about anywhere, dramatically increasing the potential land that can be used to absorb carbon.

3. Hemp nourishes the soil

Many farmers have discovered that hemp can be a significant ally in nourishing and revitalising their soil.

The stalks and leaves of hemp plants are full of nutrients, which can be mixed back into the soil to bring overworked soil back to life.

4. Hemp prevents erosion

Erosion is a natural process, where wind and water capture soil, often bringing it to nearby waterways. When large trees and plants are cleared and turned into fields, erosion can happen at a much faster rate.

Erosion is dangerous for:
· Stripping away topsoil
· Damaging fields
· Hurting crop yields
· Sending chemical fertilis
ers and pesticides into waterways
· Hurting local wildlife

Hemp can help prevent field erosion. Hemp roots grow deep and fast, helping to hold soil together and protecting it from the erosive effects of the elements.

5. Hemp doesn’t need pesticides

Chemical pesticides and herbicides can harm insect populations beyond what the chemical is meant to destroy. They also often make their way into local water sources, where they can affect the local wildlife or contaminate drinking water.

Hemp is naturally resistant to many of the diseases and pests that threaten other cash crops.

Hemp farmers, therefore, don’t need to use pesticides or herbicides on their hemp fields.

6. Hemp could reduce plastic waste

Hemp bioplastic is an alternative to plastics derived from petrochemicals.

It does not only eliminate the need to create more plastics from oil, but it is also fully biodegradable, unlike traditional plastic, which can take 450 years or more to break down.

7. Hemp could be used in building materials

We already talked a lot about hemp architecture. You can read the article   “Hemp houses: the cost, the benefits, the future”   here.

In short,   the building sector (buildings and construction) is one of the biggest polluters on the planet, contributing to 36% of annual greenhouse gas emissions.

Hemp-derived building materials can cut down on the carbon emissions of the construction industry as well as promote more energy efficiency within homes.

Hemp houses are:
· Sustainable:   
one cubic meter of hempcrete wall can hold up to 30 kilograms of CO2.
· Healthier for inhabitants:   
hemp houses provide natural sound and thermal insulation, humidity regulation, and effective protection from the elements.
· Resistant   
to pests, mold, and insects.
· Really durable:   
tends to harden as it sets down – time only makes it stronger.
· Zero waste:   
when demolishing or rebuilding, hempcrete only goes back to nature, leaving no harmful waste behind.

8. Hemp biofuels

The world is hungry for energy. Map below shows the primary energy consumption country-by-country in 2019. It’s the sum of total energy consumption, including electricity, transport and heating.

With a world population of about 7.7 billion, we now have a world average consumption of primary energy of  58 kWh per day per person.

Using 1kWh, you could boil a kettle 10 times, or watch TV for 7 hours. So the usage of energy today would equal each person in the world boiling a kettle 5800 times a day.

Many of our top energy sources, including petroleum and coal, contribute to climate change and degrade the environment.

Hemp offers a clean energy alternative. Oils and fats extracted from hemp seeds can be used to make biodiesel.

After a few more processing steps, the hemp biodiesel can actually go into a car engine to fuel a car. One hectare of hemp yields about 363 liters of fuel.

Hemp can also be turned into ethanol, which is traditionally derived from food crops, like corn and barley.

Considering that Europe and some states of the US are planning to ban sales of new diesel cars by 2030, car manufacturers may want to start looking to hemp.

9. Hemp could stop polluting paper processing

Cutting down trees for paper can eliminate forests, disrupting ecosystems and putting more carbon into the air.

Even as more paper companies switch to regenerative forest management, the process of making paper from wood pulp is extremely dirty.

Wood pulp must be bleached with chlorine (which releases a toxic substance called dioxin) and is often mixed with binders that release formaldehyde.

In contrast,   hemp pulp doesn’t need to be bleached and can be made with soy-based binders.

Hemp paper is also higher quality than paper made from trees – it’s stronger, thicker, and more durable.

 

How to start using hemp?

 

One step at the time. Obviously, it’s not very likely that we will switch to hemp once and for all, but the main thing is to  start.

Start supporting local businesses, promote hemp growing.  Try using hemp paper, textiles or building materials.

Actions speak louder than words, and action is exactly what the planet needs – the sooner, the better.

See our page to find more about using hemp:  https://www.naturalfiber.eu/en#

Article based on:  HEMP AND CLIMATE CHANGE: 10 WAYS HOW HEMP CAN SAVE THE WORLD

@naturalfiber