by Joseph Hood
It’s that time of year again! Over the coming weeks winter will slowly give way to spring, flowers will start to bloom and many people across the UK will collectively sigh “thank goodness it’s getting warmer”. Mother’s Day is also fast approaching as we make our way out of the darker months. It’s a time of letter writing, gift giving (be sure to check out Voyager’s Mother’s Day bundles) and of gratitude to those who raised us and brought us into the world. While we’re busy looking after the mothers in our lives and spoiling them rotten (rightly so) it’s also important to try and do right by old Mother Nature by making our gift and general purchases as environmentally friendly as possible. With that in mind this article will be exploring the positive impact hemp agriculture and its resulting products can have on the environment we live in and indeed on the mother we all share.
With an estimated 1.3 million regular CBD users in the UK alone and the popularity of hemp products firmly on the rise, the question of environmental impact is a reasonable one for such a booming industry. Fortunately, concerning all things green and pleasant, research indicates good news for the crop that keeps on giving.
Lets start at the beginning of the process: growth. Hemp grows remarkably quickly; taking up to 3-4 months for a stalk to fully mature from seeds. When compared to other textile crops like cotton (which takes over 5 months to fully grow) the opportunity for high yield, low acre production becomes increasingly apparent. In short; because it grows so quickly, hemp can be planted and harvested much more frequently than other crops, therefore, it becomes possible for farmers to use fewer acres of farmland to achieve worthwhile results.
In addition to its efficiency in growth, hemp also boasts the uncanny ability to thrive with a relatively low amount of water. While this perk may not seem notable at first glance, when paired with the consideration that 70 percent of the worlds fresh water supply is already dedicated to agriculture, this makes the old mantra of “less is more” hit that little bit harder.
Furthermore, unlike many commercial crops, hemp can and will grow reliably without the use of industrial pesticides which are a major cause of environmental contamination (especially when sprayed aerially over fields as part of commercial operations). As such, the hemp produced for Voyager is grown organically which allows for an eco-friendly process meaning less local contamination as the cost of a good harvest.
The benefits of a hemp harvest aren’t just exclusive to the crop alone. When cultivated, hemp actually removes heavy metals and other contaminants from the ground and purifies the soil as it grows. This effect is so significant that many farmers plant and grow hemp before cultivating another crop on the same spot to ensure a rich and healthy soil for their potatoes, cabbages or whatever they happen to plant. Hemp also grows long, sturdy roots which take their minerals from deep within the earth; this allows the topsoil and surface layers to remain rich in nutrients for subsequent crops and plant life. As an added bonus, when planted close together, hemp can smother and overtake stubborn and invasive weeds thus further clearing the field for healthy production.
So we’ve reached the point of harvest; the crop has grown quickly, the soil is healthy, the air has fewer pesticides in it and we’ve even saved some water along the way. Now we’re left with a beautiful field of hemp plants ready for processing- but what are we to do with them?
While cannabidiol products constitute a large part of Voyager’s product range, the beauty of the hemp plant is that all parts of it can be used to create something useful. In the modern age, hemp is being embraced as an eco-friendly alternative to other commercial and industrial materials and these functions have actually been tried and tested throughout human history. The Northmen of Dark Age and Medieval Europe famously used hemp sails and rigging on their ships due to their resistance to salt water and inherent strength as a fabric. It may also surprise some to learn that the earliest recorded use of hemp as a textile was as the lining of Neolithic Chinese pottery fragments dating back to the 5th millennium BC. On top of the examples of our distant ancestors, products that can be made from hemp include (but are by no means limited to): clothing, shoes, paper, food and drink, biofuel, bioplastics, insulation, hemp seed oil (which is startlingly rich in Omega 3, 6 and 9 making it an ideal food supplement), wood products and even durable building materials.
At this point it’s important to note that every item mentioned in the list above serves a secondary function apart from its intended use. Every item made from the hemp plant is not only biodegradable but also represents a set amount of CO2 that has already been removed from our environment and held in the fibres of the plant. Much like trees (but without the need for especially vast empty spaces in which to grow it), hemp sequesters carbon from the air while it grows which makes it a truly carbon negative crop. In fact, hemp is so good at processing carbon that a single hectare of hemp can offset the annual carbon output of no less than two cars. That’s a gift both we and Mother Nature can be pleased with.
Brief though it may be, at the very least this post has offered a glimpse into just how useful hemp can be and how beneficial it is for our environment and way of life. Consider this upcoming Mother’s Day as an opportunity to gift something more natural, more durable and far more eco-friendly than the synthetic tokens of appreciation we’re accustomed to. This Mother’s Day why not gift something made lovingly and responsibly with simple, natural hemp?