How Hemp Can Heal the Planet and Help Solve Our Environmental Problems
Since 4/20 and Earth Day fall on the same week this year, we wanted to take a moment to do some quick takes on all the amazing ways cannabis can fight climate change and nourish planet earth. We’ll keep it top line so you can stuff these facts in your back pocket and bring them up at parties once the world opens up for business again (gotta spread the word, right?). It might feel like the world is on fire right now, but we can all make small changes (especially with hemp!) which can add up to big shifts.
A quick overview? Hemp can save the trees, build homes, protect the environment, positively impact the economy, and provide an alternative for animal-based proteins. Let’s get down to it.
Solution: #SaveTheTrees is such an environmentalist throwback, but still completely relevant. Obviously deforestation is a major problem impacting our planet, its people and economies, and the air we breathe. So how can hemp help? Hemp paper.
Hemp can be used to create paper — for everything from stationary to the hot commodity of the moment, toilet paper. This allows us to let the trees do their thing (you know, like… continue to live, give us oxygen… the usual) instead of being cut down for printer paper and junk mail (seriously, so aggravating to get junk mail knowing a tree died just to be tossed in the recycling bin). Also: certain trees need to grow upwards of 45 years to reach maturation (to be used for materials), whereas it can take roughly four weeks to four months to grow hemp. Just a sliiiightly quicker turnaround time.
Of note: a lot of deforestation is for the creation of palm oil (it’s why Nutella specifies that they use “non deforestation” palm oil in their spread… now I’m hungry) — maybe we should use hemp oil instead? Hemp seed oil appears to be nutritionally superior to palm oil…
Problem: Plastic Pollution
Solution: Paper straws are the worst, but plastics are also like, destroying the planet, so there’s some give and take here (even if you have to drink your iced coffee in a sippy cup because your straw disintegrated).
Let’s make our plastics out of hemp, shall we? It’s a biodegradable alternative (being called “bioplastic”) to the petroleum-based plastics we know today. Hemp cellulose can be used to create anything from toys and parts to packaging and containers. This is a thing that exists… so why are we still sticking to the old, planet-destroying, turtle-killing plastics?
On top of this, we’re dealing with so. much. TRASH. Maybe this one seems obvious now that you’re getting the hang of all this hemp stuff, but by making more materials from hemp — which is biodegradable — we’ll have less trash, fewer recyclables, and more earth-friendly materials going back into the soil from whence it came. It’s the ciiiiircle of liiiiiife.
Problem: Fossil Fuels
Solution: We all know about the problems with fossil fuels (ranging from environmental to systemic and political). Why don’t we ditch that and opt for biofuels made from hemp? Renewable diesel fuel isn’t an oxymoron, it’s one of hemp’s many solutions to our numerous environmental problems.
Problem: Carbon Positive Construction
Solution: Hemp housing. While a more sustainable alternative to concrete and steel, using trees for timber to build houses still means cutting down a lot of trees. Hempcrete — a building material made from hemp — has a lower carbon footprint than other building materials, and can be just as effective.
Problem: Fast Fashion, Overproduction
Solution: While we can’t say that hemp will outright slow the mass production of clothing and shift our culture toward more sustainable wardrobes, we can say that growing hemp takes less water than cotton — and that’s a positive! Hemp can be used to make all sorts of clothing, including designer collections.
Problem: Soil Pollution, Nuclear Fallout
Solution: Surprise! It’s hemp. Didn’t see that coming, did you? Hemp is a bioaccumulator, which means the plant sponges up everything in the soil in which it’s planted. Heavy metals? Sucked right up. Nuclear fallout? Absorbed. Pesticides? Hemp’s got it. We can literally leech all the bad crap out of the earth using hemp. Wild, right? What’s more is that hemp nourishes the soil, leaving the “house” that is our earth nicer than how we found it.
Problem: Big Carbon Footprints
Solution: Not only can hemp manufacturing contribute to carbon negative production (and products), but the process of growing hemp itself helps to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. To learn more about carbon footprints (and a hemp car), check out episode 7 of THE Space by Svn Space.
Another emitter of greenhouse gases could be livestock, and the process of raising and producing animal-based meat products for human consumption. A possible alternative for this is also hempseed protein, rich in omega-3 fatty acids. “By weight, hemp seeds provide similar amounts of protein as beef and lamb — 30 grams of hemp seeds, or 2–3 tablespoons, provide about 11 grams of protein,” according to Healthline.