While other fabrics have been a much-loved choice for garments since decades, since the past few years, hemp is gaining popularity due to its eco-friendly nature. It scores over most other fabrics in more ways than one. We tell you what makes hemp a wise choice that’s good for you and our planet.
A strain of the ‘Cannabis sativa’ plant, hemp can be traced as far back as 8,000 BC to China and the Middle East. Initially, it was used for decoration in pottery and apparently, it was also a crop that was solely used for production of fabric. In Middle East and China, the fibre was used for textiles, fishnets, ropes and the seed oil was used for beauty products as well.
Besides, hemp found its way into medicines, and even the first printed book, the Gutenberg bible was printed on hemp paper. And, interestingly, from 16th to the 19th centuries, taxes could be paid in hemp. More interestingly, farmers could go to prison if they did not grow this plant. Such was the popularity of hemp, which sort of waned through time. However, it’s caught on again and aren’t we glad it did. For, hemp is the most eco-friendly fabric one can ever opt for, better than any.
Though hemp is majorly grown in China, Europe, North Korea and South America are other regions where it’s grown as well. The best part of this plant is that it grows to reach the height of anywhere between 5 to 15 feet. It uses far less water and grows at a great speed, in about 70 to 110 days. So, we get about 680kg of hemp per acre compared to about 226kg of cotton. It produces about 250 percent more fibre across the same area compared to cotton and about 600 percent more compared to flax. This makes cultivation of the fibre quite cost-effective. Besides, hemp is known to aerate soil, which means, it cleans, maintains soil moisture, which also diminishing it. This characteristic in turn leaves it rich for future crops too.
Another plus is the strength of the fibre; it’s quite strong and so, hemp was also the first intentionally grown crop for the production of textiles. Moreover, hemp is hypoallergenic, which makes it good for the skin and the fibres are also known to ‘kill’ some bacteria. In fact, till the 1920s, almost 80 percent of clothes were made out of hemp.
Moreover, the hemp fibre gets soft after each wash and the fabric itself is breathable while also a great absorbent of moisture and protector from the harsh sunrays as well.
Hemp is extremely versatile as it can be blended easily with silk and cotton. The best part though, is that cultivation and growth of hemp does not need any artificial fertilisers, pesticides, or any such substances. Also, as the life cycle of cannabis is on a few months, hemp is considered as a great source of renewable energy.
Today, hemp fibres are woven into many products such as towels, carpets, curtains, shoes and even big tarpaulins.
While the use of hemp clothing is growing steadily there are certain labels in the country that do make hemp clothing. Brands such as B Label By BOHECO (Bombay Hemp Company), Bhu:Sattva, Hemp Fabric Lab, Foxxy, make beautiful garments out of hemp.
So, raid your wardrobe and make way for hemp, our ecosystem’s best friend.
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