The mention of hemp brings with it a lot of history. Denim king Levi Strauss was known to use hemp fabric in the early products and the legendary plastic car made by Henry Ford was believed to be made up of hemp as well. Hemp can be used to make paper, the seeds of this plant can be used as bird feed, it is also a clean source of fuel; to be frank, the utility list extends to infinity. So what is hemp, and can it fulfill its promise to end our environmental woes?
'Hemp' comes from the plant Cannabis sativa, and this is where the controversy begins. Yes, hemp is indeed related to marijuana; however, it is the industrial hemp that we're considering here. Industrial hemp has very low levels of tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, the rogue ingredient. It is the amount of THC present in the plant that determines its use in the industrial sense or as a medicinal or recreational drug. Simply put, hemp is the strain of the Cannabis sativa, that has low levels of THC, and is therefore, absolutely safe. Countries that allow the production of industrial hemp issue licenses to strictly prevent any kind of misuse.
Hemp Plastic Facts You Should Know
Traditionally, plastics have been derived from petrochemicals, which are mainly toxic. Plants, on the other hand, are also a source of cellulose, that can be used to make biodegradable and organic plastic. As hemp happens to be one of the richest sources of cellulose, it is only natural that purists will advocate its use, considering its ecological benefits.
Hemp plastic is biodegradable and recyclable. If you thought being eco-friendly undermined its sturdiness, you couldn't be more wrong. The stiffness level of hemp plastic can match up to regular plastic. Hemp plastic offers good thermal, UV and dimensional stability. It is resistant to heat; however, the most outstanding feature of a few varieties of hemp plastic is that they are flame resistant too. Finally, if Henry Ford could imagine creating a car with this material, we can perhaps believe that it indeed is "ten times stronger than steel".
It is a pity that with so many useful qualities, we don't see hemp plastic being used in our everyday life, the way it ought to be. Hemp plastic can easily substitute the existing plastic in products like cell phone chargers, blenders, sockets, laptop covers, etc. Currently, hemp plastic is being used to manufacture audio, video, toys, automobile parts and packaging materials.
Hemp fiber is one of the strongest natural fibers known to us. As scientists keep looking for ways to address the ecological damage that conventional plastics have caused, here is a material that can be manufactured to be 100% biodegradable. Hemp plastic is known to be several times durable as compared to polypropylene plastic, and it comes without all the health and safety threats.
What we have here is a product that is natural, does not pose a threat to the environment, does not require the use of petrochemicals or glass fibers and is derived from a plant that requires less maintenance. Are we trying to shut our eyes to the obvious solution for the mayhem caused by conventional plastics? Unfortunately, in the case of hemp plastic, it is the tree's proximity to marijuana that caused its undoing. Recent times have thankfully started to witness a change in the outlook towards hemp, but we still have a long way to go.
Plastics keep reminding us of the damage that we have done to our planet, all under the guise of convenience. As hemp products have started making a comeback of sorts into our daily life, you will be surprised to know the extent of hemp uses. Take a green initiative now and do your bit to conserve the environment.