The environmental benefits of hemp are significant and far reaching. The human population is under increasing pressure to adapt to more environmentally sustainable practices with reusable shopping bags, biodegradable plastics and cutlery just some of the ways one can reduce their carbon footprint. Hemp and the environment go hand in hand, with a diverse range of benefits.
Vasse Valley’s commitment to the environment
Before we get in to the blog, I’d like to share with you Vasse Valley’s commitment to the environment. Vasse Valley Hemp Farm Pty Ltd is WA’s leading hemp foods business and have been growing hemp since 2015. At Vasse Valley we are committed to sustainable farming and the many benefits of hemp and the environment. We are highly pro-active in the global challenge of reducing our carbon footprint. At a glance here are some of the ways we have incorporated sustainable practices into our farming.
- In 2020 we made the switch to solar energy and are proud to say we are a 100% solar run business.
- The water used for on-site manufacturing is from rainwater captured by our roof and pumped using solar energy.
- In 2020 we also made the bold move to a paperless invoicing and filing system and, where we do use paper, it is all 100% recycled wherever possible.
- To further support the environment around the property we have planted natives and practice spray-free farming to encourage a greater diversity of wildlife.
So please remember, when you purchase from Vasse Valley, you are supporting an environmentally conscious business.
Now, let’s get in to the blog. The environmental benefits of hemp are far reaching, so we have compiled our top benefits of hemp and the environment.
1) Hemp reduces carbon emissions
One of the greatest challenges we all collectively face in reducing our carbon footprint is reducing carbon emissions. Hemp works as a purifier capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and ‘trapping’ it in the plant. All plant do this, but hemp does it much faster than most other plants due to its rapid growth rate.
This process is known as carbon sequestration. It is estimated that hemp cropping will sequester an average of 10-22 tonnes of carbon dioxide per hectare! Hemp’s rapid growth (grows to 4 metres in 100 days) makes it one of the fastest CO2-to-biomass conversion tools available, more efficient than agro-forestry.
2) Hemp can be used as a renewable bio fuel
Researchers at the University of Connecticut found the seeds from cannabis sativa, or industrial hemp, can be used to create a viable, sustainable diesel fuel. UConn’s research showed hemp oil had a 97% conversion rate into biodiesel and passed all lab tests. Meanwhile, the rest of the plant can be used to produce ethanol or methanol. No doubt in our lifetime we will be able to drive electric cars powered by the sun or diesel cars powered with renewable and sustainably farmed hemp biodiesel.
3) Hemp restores soil fertility
Hemp is a nutrient powerhouse, not only for us but also for the soil in which it grows. When growing hemp, it returns about 70% of its required nutrients back into the soil. This means it requires much less fertilizer to grow and less fertilizers means cleaner water supplies.
Hemp can also be used for bioremediation, a process to restore soil from toxic pollution. Essentially, as a phytoremediator, hemp pulls the toxins out of the soil like a sponge. Farmers are starting to use hemp to restore their fields. In fact, hemp was even used to remove radioactive agents from the ground following the radioactive disaster at Chernobyl!
Hemp also supports the farming environment through being ideal for crop rotation, it’s ability to replenish the soil and remove toxins creates ideal sustainable farming conditions. As a bonus, planting hemp in soil that is in need of replenishment helps to prevent soil erosion and restore the soil’s fertility.
4) Hemp can be made into fashionable clothes with no chemical residues
Based on the above, the environmental benefits of hemp farming are pretty clear. But how does it compare once we start processing the raw product into a fabric? Hemp fabric can be processed organically, however, many companies now produce hemp fabric chemically, in a process that is much more intensive on the environment, but faster and cheaper to create.
Often you can tell that a hemp fabric has gone through this intensive process if it is labelled as “hemp viscose”, which normally involves the same harmful processing with toxic chemicals as regular viscose. Some companies may use the less impactful lyocell process, so it is worth double checking before purchasing something made of hemp.
Nevertheless, hemp constitutes a highly sustainable, low-impact crop that can be converted into fabric sustainably and is a better option than artificial fibres.
5) Hemp can be used to build mould and fire resistant housing
Did you know hemp can be used to build houses?! The simple combination of hemp hurd and lime forms a durable and breathable material called ‘Hempcrete’. The coupling with lime creates an alkaline material which is safe from bacterial or fungal attacks.
One of the main benefits of using hempcrete is reduced energy consumption due to its excellent insulation. There is little heating or cooling losses from the building which means constant energy output to keep the building cool or warm. This saves on your power bill!
Hempcrete is also fire resistant. I’ve seen a concrete block set upon by a blowtorch for several minutes and it barely smoked. It seems a no-brainer to start building with hemp in Australia.
6) Hemp can be grown anywhere
Unlike many plant species, hemp can be grown in a wide range of climates. This means the environmental benefits of hemp can be experienced globally. What’s more, hemp seeds are highly nutritious providing a good source of protein, essential nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and amino acids. For the poorer and disadvantaged communities of the world, farming hemp is a way to provide nourishment as well as improve soil fertility for other foods.
7) Hemp can produce sustainable bio-plastics
Bioplastic materials, including hemp, offer significant advantages for the environment. Because they are not made from fossil fuels, they do not produce carbon dioxide when decomposed. In addition, most of them are biodegradable.
As of 2018, 335 million tons of plastics are produced globally each year. One-half of all discarded plastic comes from packaging. Almost one-third comes from packaging that is discarded soon after use.
At Vasse Valley, we are acutely aware that we are contributing to this! However, we are communicating with packaging suppliers with the intent to source environmentally friendly packaging that will also keep our products fresh.
Our current packaging is high quality and tough so please re-use it rather than throwing it in the bin. Hopefully in the very near future all of our products will be supplied in hemp bioplastics.
There really are so many diverse and wonderful environmental benefits of hemp. From providing a fuel source, to improving soil fertility and even becoming part of high fashion. These are just some of the reasons why we at Vasse Valley are so proud to be part of a sustainable future.