The world is becoming increasingly environmentally conscious — and the fashion industry is changing with that. People are more aware that the clothing choices they make have an impact on the planet. So more sustainable choices start to take the spotlight.
One material that has gained momentum recently is hemp. Well known for its versatility and eco-friendly properties. Hemp is one of the best sustainable alternatives to conventional materials like cotton.
Here, we explore where hemp comes from, its environmental benefits, and why it's at the forefront of the sustainable fashion industry.
What is hemp?
Hemp — or Cannabis sativa to be more specific — has been grown for thousands of years. It's often associated with marijuana because of its botanical similarity. But hemp is a very different plant.
The main difference between marijuana and hemp is the levels of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). Hemp usually has less than 0.3% concentration of THC, whereas marijuana is much higher. THC is a psychoactive compound that causes a high feeling. Hemp is grown mainly for industrial applications like textiles, paper, construction, and biofuel.
Hemp is well known for being incredibly versatile. Which makes it an ideal choice for many different products, including clothing. Here are some of the key properties that make hemp a sought-after material:
Strong and durable
Hemp clothes can stand the test of time.
Breathable and moisture-wicking
Hemp fibres are naturally breathable. They allow air to circulate freely, which keeps you cool and comfortable in hot or humid conditions.
Also, hemp has moisture-wicking properties. So it effectively absorbs and releases moisture, keeping you dry throughout the day.
Hemp is naturally antibacterial
Hemp has natural antibacterial properties, which makes it hard for smelly bacteria to form. So hemp clothing stays fresher for longer and ultimately needs washing less.
It's also hypoallergenic, which means it's a great choice to avoid allergic reactions.
Hemp fibres give a natural defence against harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. This makes hemp clothing an excellent choice for outdoor activities or for individuals seeking additional sun protection. By wearing hemp clothing — you can enjoy the outdoors while protecting your skin from UV radiation.
Environmental benefits of hemp
Hemp's sustainable qualities go beyond its versatility. Hemp has many environmental benefits that make it a great material choice. Especially compared to conventional fabrics like cotton and polyester.
Uses water efficiently
Water scarcity is a global concern. Particularly in areas that are prone to drought. Hemp is an incredibly water-efficient crop. Using roughly half the amount of water needed to grow cotton.
By choosing hemp clothing, you reduce the strain on water resources. And help to support the conservation of this precious resource.
Conventional cotton farming relies heavily on toxic pesticides to control pests and diseases. Which is a risk to human health — but it also pollutes the environment and contaminates rivers, lakes, and seas.
Hemp — on the other hand — is naturally resistant to pests and diseases. Reducing the need for harmful chemicals in the process. Hemp cultivation promotes a healthier and more sustainable approach. Protecting ecosystems and reducing the impact on surrounding environments.
Promotes soil regeneration
Hemp cultivation has a special ability to regenerate the soil. The plant's deep roots aerate and break up compacted soil. Which improves its structure and allows for better water retention and nutrient absorption.
Additionally, hemp can absorb a lot of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This is known as being a "bio-accumulator". Reducing greenhouse gasses and global warming.
Monoculture crops like conventional cotton often remove natural habitats and deplete biodiversity. But growing hemp promotes biodiversity by providing a habitat for insects and other wildlife.
Hemp fields support a thriving ecosystem, contributing to a healthy environment. Hemp clothing actively supports biodiversity preservation and protecting ecosystems.
Hemp: A leader in the sustainable fashion industry
As sustainability becomes a crucial aspect of fashion, hemp has emerged as a leader in the industry. And here are some of the key reasons why:
Low environmental footprint
The fashion industry is notorious for its significant environmental footprint. From water pollution to greenhouse gasses, the negative impacts are vast. But, by choosing hemp, consumers can greatly reduce their environmental impact.
Hemp cultivation requires fewer resources, generates less waste, and emits fewer greenhouse gases compared to conventional fabrics. Using hemp can make positive changes and contribute to a more sustainable future.
Hemp clothing follows the concept of a circular economy. Due to its high durability, hemp garments have a long lifespan. This means less waste and less discarded clothing.
Plus, hemp is biodegradable. So when it eventually reaches the end of it's use, it returns to the earth without a negative impact. So hemp is used, reused, and recycled — a circular approach to fashion.
Fashionable and comfortable
Sustainable fashion doesn't mean compromising on style or comfort. You can get hemp clothing in a variety of styles and colours. Whether you're looking for everyday basics or something more standout.
As hemp fibres are worn and washed — they get softer. Making the clothing even more comfortable.
Frequently asked questions about hemp
Is hemp clothing only available in earthy tones?
No, you can get hemp clothes in a variety of tones and colours. Just like conventional fabrics. It used to be more common to only see hemp in earthy tones. But advances in dyeing techniques now allow for a wide spectrum of colours without affecting the sustainability of hemp.
Is hemp clothing more expensive than traditional fabrics?
Hemp will sometimes have a higher price tag — but it's important to consider the long-term value. Due to its durability — hemp garments outlast many conventional fabrics. Often a cost-effective choice in the long run.
By investing in high-quality hemp clothing — you are not only making an environmentally conscious choice but also ensuring that your wardrobe lasts longer.
Does hemp farming require a lot of land?
Hemp produces a lot of fibre per acre. It's a high-yield crop. Compared to cotton — hemp uses less land for cultivation. With hemp, clothing can be produced sustainably without putting too much pressure on the environment.
To summarise, hemp is a unique material with strong sustainability credentials. With its durable fibres, breathability, and natural properties like antibacterial and UV-resistance — hemp can offer style and comfort.
Plus it has a number of environmental benefits, it's water efficient, usually pesticide-free, and helps the soil to regenerate. All of this makes it an ideal choice for consumers seeking to reduce their fashion footprint.