Cotton is usually the main source of material for bags, apparel, towels, sheets, and pretty much all kinds of products that are made of fabric. In fact, almost half of all the textiles in the world are made from cotton. But what many people don’t know is that producing cotton has a negative impact on our environment. It consumes 25% of all pesticides, 7% of all fertilizer, and could potentially exhaust the soil, which is one of the major causes of climate change.
Hemp is a more environment-friendly alternative to cotton. In fact, hemp has already been used for thousands of years in producing durable textiles in huge quantities. But the prohibition of cannabis has made it difficult for industrial hemp to flourish.
Hemp is More Efficient and Eco-Friendly
As mentioned, growing cotton requires a good amount of pesticides and fertilizers and these are both harmful to the environment. Furthermore, unsafe use of these chemicals could severely affect the ecosystem.
On the other hand, producing hemp doesn’t require as many pesticides and fertilizers as cotton does. In fact, growing hemp can help improve the soil condition, thanks to its fast-growing and long taproots. Although hemp may still require some pesticides, it would only require half the territory of land as that of cotton in producing a ton of textile, which makes it a more efficient alternative. Furthermore, going organic could certainly minimize the amount of energy used in the farming industry.
Hemp Uses Less Water
It would require more than 20,000 liters of water to produce up to 2 pounds of cotton, which is equivalent to a pair of jeans or a single shirt. Cotton is, in fact, considered one of the thirstiest crops as it relies heavily on water, which could possibly deplete the limited amount of freshwater sources.
Meanwhile, hemp farming uses considerably less amount of water. To compare, it requires 10,000 liters of water to yield 1kg of cotton while it only requires 300 to 500 liters of water to produce the same amount of dry hemp that’s used for the production of fiber.
Hemp Doesn’t Get Worn Out Easily
Unlike cotton, hemp doesn’t get worn out easily. Instead, it softens over time. The hemp fiber can be woven directly into a light material to be used for clothing or to be made into durable textiles. In fact, the hemp fiber is also made into durable ropes and cables. Unlike cotton, hemp is capable of holding its strength well even when wet.
Hemp is no doubt a much better alternative to cotton. But because of the government’s prohibition of cannabis and the stigma that surrounds it, the production of hemp fabric for industrial use is not fully recognized. Hopefully, when more and more textile manufacturers and consumers will be aware of the many benefits of hemp, the hemp fabric could become a more sustainable alternative to cotton.