Hemp And It’s Uses
The hemp plant is one of the most versatile and environmentally friendly plants available to humans. Originating from the Himalayan Highlands, evidence has been found on pottery in China dating back to the 5th century BC, making it one of the oldest domesticated (grown intentionally) plants known.
Hemp is also mentioned in the book of Shu Ching, 2300 BC (Chinese Book of History), stating it’s use as a superior string for bows and replacing bamboo thread in armour. It soon became one of the major fibres used throughout the world.
Trade ships used hemp for sails and ropes and spread the knowledge of this incredible plant far and wide. We are only now rediscovering the versatility of this fantastic plant. Hemp has over 20 000 uses, including bio-diesel, paper, clothing, ropes, cosmetics, animal bedding, essential oils, hemp milk, textiles and food products. Large companies such as BMW, Ford and Chrysler even use it to make plastic paneling and dashboards for cars.
It is also being used for building materials, because hemp naturally ‘breathes’, it holds little to no condensation, preventing mold and mildew from growing. It is also termite and rodent resistant. Hemp Crete is an alternative for concrete. It is used in pipes and is found at a 1/3 of the price to produce and is also more flexible and crack resistant. In the clothing industry, hemp is also a more viable option. It takes 300 litres less water and one and a half cups less pesticide to produce one hemp t-shirt compared to one cotton t-shirt. As a paper alternative, a hemp plant only takes 90 days to mature and will produce four times more usable fiber than a timber crop of the same size over a twenty year period.
Hemp is termed as a “mop crop” due to its ability to clear impurities such as excess phosphorous, sewerage and other unwanted chemicals from water, whilst absorbing carbon from the atmosphere. The list of benefits goes on and on, not only on an environmental level, but the profits from farming hemp would be extremely beneficial as it is an excellent crop for rotational purposes.
Legislation in Australia varies from state to state, with most states allowing hemp to be grown and harvested under strict licensing regulations. The consumption of hemp food products however, is banned nationwide. Leaving New Zealand and Australia as the only developed countries in the world not reaping the full health benefits of hemp. Hemp food products are high in omega-3 fatty acids and create one of the most easily digestible oils for our bodies. The FSANZ (Food Standards Australia and New Zealand) states the reasoning behind its ban is that hemp foods would “increase consumer acceptance of illicit cannabis use and pose problems for drug enforcement agencies”.
When looking at the facts we find that hemp has little or no tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, the chemical compound found in marijuana that creates the ‘high’. When hemp crops are grown in the same area as marijuana crops, both crops are left THC free. The hemp is still useful and the marijuana is unsellable on the drug market. I’m no genius, but wouldn’t that help drug enforcement agencies? So many useful products out of one plant that would not only help struggling farmers but also help a struggling planet. These brilliant, useful things our planet has to offer are often termed as “alternatives”. I’m not sure why, alternative to what? Complete destruction? The market is already there, all that is needed is some people power! – © Ange Marxsen