The industrial hemp plant is beautiful and so versatile. There’s a lot of confusion around hemp, cannabis, the uses of these plants, hemp offset, and the hemp plant’s potential impact on climate change. So we’ve put this handy guide together for you. Enjoy and share!
What is hemp?
Hemp is a plant that has been cultivated by humans for over 10,000 years for its useful fibre (think paper, fabric, rope, sails); and also for its oils, which can be used for food and in moisturisers; and for its CBD, which is undergoing multiple clinical trials on its medical potential; and for its conversion to fuel by fermentation (think ethanol). You can also make hemp beer by fermentation, it’s up to you. Hemp can even be used to make sustainable plastic. In 1941, Henry Ford unveiled a car made almost entirely of hemp, which ran on hemp fuel. Hemp can claim to be the most versatile and useful plant in the world. There’s even hempcrete, a much more sustainable building material.
What does the hemp plant look like?
It’s very green, tall and bushy, very fast-growing, with elegant leaves you’ve probably seen on a million pop culture designs. Wikipedia answers it best, and with a picture (above): Hemp, or industrial hemp, is a variety of the Cannabis sativa plant species that is grown specifically for industrial use. It can be used to make a wide range of products. Along with bamboo, hemp is one of the fastest-growing plants on Earth. It was also one of the first plants to be spun into usable fibre 50,000 years ago (we’re claiming 10,000 years ago). It can be refined into a variety of commercial items, including paper, rope, textiles, clothing, biodegradable plastics, paint, insulation, biofuel, food, and animal feed.
How can hemp help stop climate change?
Hemp is a fast-growing, highly fibrous plant. This means that hemp absorbs lots of CO2, carbon dioxide, from the air as it grows. Different varieties of hemp will absorb different amounts of CO2. Varieties grown for seed will sequester around 6 tons of CO2 per acre in a single growing season. High-fibre varieties will sequester around 10 tons of CO2 per acre in a single growing season. In hot countries, three crops per year are possible. When you consider that forestry can take up to 30-40 years to show net carbon benefit, we believe that hemp literally has the power to save the world.
Hemp is a versatile and sustainable crop that can play an important role in mitigating climate change by capturing and storing carbon dioxide (CO2) through the process of photosynthesis. The carbon journey across the hemp lifecycle starts with the growth of the hemp plant and continues through the use of hemp-derived materials in construction and infrastructure.
During photosynthesis, hemp plants absorb CO2 from the atmosphere and convert it into biomass, which is stored in the plant’s leaves, stems, and roots. This process helps to reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, which is one of the main contributors to climate change. In fact, hemp plants are known to be very efficient at capturing CO2, with some estimates suggesting that they can absorb up to four times as much CO2 as trees.
Once the hemp plant has been harvested, the carbon stored in the biomass can be used to create a wide range of products, including hempcrete. Hempcrete is a sustainable building material made from a mixture of hemp hurds (the fibrous core of the hemp plant), lime, and water. When hempcrete is used in construction, it has the potential to lock away carbon for the long term, as the lime in the mixture reacts with carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and hardens over time.
In addition to hempcrete, hemp can also be used to create a range of other sustainable building materials, such as insulation, roofing, and flooring. These materials not only have the potential to lock away carbon, but they also have a lower carbon footprint than many traditional building materials, such as concrete and steel.
Overall, the carbon journey across the hemp lifecycle highlights the potential of this versatile crop to help mitigate climate change by capturing and storing carbon dioxide. From the growth of the plant to the use of hemp-derived materials in construction and infrastructure, hemp has the potential to play an important role in building a more sustainable future.
Wikipedia on hemp: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hemp
Image credit: A hemp field in Brittany, France (Europe’s largest hemp producer) – Wikipedia commons.
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