Hemp products have been in existence for millennia and are one of the earliest crops humanity ever cultivated.
While it did see pushback for the last few centuries, hemp products have started to come back in a significant way. Now, hemp is used for both hemp oil products and a variety of sustainable alternatives.
But just how sustainable are hemp products? Are they offering a modern-day solution when it comes to sustainable alternatives?
What Is Hemp & Why Is It Considered Sustainable
Hemp is one of those terms that has been used to describe all kinds of different products, including in the health and industrial marketplace.
Hemp itself is a plant, commonly known as cannabis, that grows a very distinctive leaf pattern and can grow into potent flower buds containing cannabinoids. These cannabinoids, the most popular of which are THC and CBD, can not only be potentially psychoactive, but they can offer all kinds of practical benefits.
Hemp products are generally considered sustainable is because they come from a plant; we can always grow more. Hemp produces a prolific quantity of seeds that can be used to develop more hemp plants, allowing for sustainability and substantial exponential growth.
Alongside the typical use of hemp as a therapeutic or recreational product, there are many beneficial ways to use hemp that help increase its sustainability.
Hemp as a Textile
While hemp might be associated with health, hemp’s first and perhaps widely used application is a textile good.
Just like how straw is made from leftover cereal stalks after all of the tasty bits have been removed, surplus hemp plants can be used as a textile in all manner of different industries.
For starters, hemp has been used to make paper for almost as long as wood has. The rise of hemp as a cheap source of paper is what lead paper and lumber magnates to oppose the hemp industry in the late 19th century so heavily.
Hemp is also used as a construction material, whether as thatching for roofs or as an aggregate in concrete or other building materials.
The best part about using hemp as a textile is that it is fundamentally sustainable, as its creation is entirely a byproduct of the regular hemp cannabinoid industry.
The cannabinoids in a hemp plant only exist in any kind of serious concentration within the flowering heads. This means that, after the cannabinoids have been removed, the remaining plant material is shipped off to the textile industry. From there, it can be used cheaply and sustainably to make all sorts of different things.
Hemp as a Functional Food Ingredient
Hemp products aren’t just about using the flowering heads, stalks, and leaves of plants; we can also eat the plant itself!
Hemp is an incredibly nutritious food source, thanks to the nutrients held within the hemp seed.
Whether cooked, raw, or pressed into hemp seed oil, hemp seed is full of fiber, fat, and, most importantly, a full range of proteins. This makes it a beneficial food source, mainly because it is, once again, a byproduct of growing hemp.
While the best yields come from specially developed lines of hemp plants designed to produce lots of seeds, all hemp plants will produce hemp seeds if they are allowed to sit long enough.
Plenty of people enjoy hemp seed oil as a finishing oil for salads, but hemp seeds themselves could actually help the world tackle worldwide hunger and provide food to poorer countries thanks to its ease of growing.
Not only could hemp be a functional food ingredient, but it could become a staple food crop worldwide.
Final Thoughts on Hemp Products Are Sustainable Alternatives
Hemp is fundamentally sustainable due to it being an easy-to-grow, drought-resistant crop.
However, hemp products of all shapes and sizes are considered beneficial for the world and sustainable replacements for other types of products because of the plant’s versatility.
Paper, construction, food, animal feed, biofuel; the list goes on and on. There is still a considerable amount of research being done into hemp, but for now, it represents a compelling and sustainable alternative for the world to enjoy.