A sustainable future: Hemp could replace all these things and more

Published Aug 13, 2021 11:00 a.m. ET
iStock / Michelle Lee Photography

We talk a lot about wanting a sustainable future, what that might look like, and some of the many things we need to do to get there, but we haven't seen much for action, and that is true even in a brand new evolved industry like cannabis or hemp. Our products are wrapped in layers of plastic and metal, with very little for recyclable alternatives, and we cultivate large indoor crops with little to no thought about what that could do to the environment. It’s almost backward from what most consumers feel to be general values shared among consumers, but there is hope yet for change.

Hemp, in particular, has made waves as CBD products for both pets and people became wildly popular practically overnight, but it’s got a lot more to offer than a bottle of extracts or some CBD-infused dog food. We just haven’t seen this crop, or its possibilities come to fruition just yet. Hemp could rid the world of many of our environmental issues by replacing materials that are filling up landfills at exponential rates.

Plastic

All of those plastic bottles, wrappers, and packaging could soon become a thing of the past, as hemp plastic becomes mainstream. Soon we’re going to see hemp plastic Lego, Barbies, RC cars, and more, all of which generally go to the trash when we’re done with them.

Metal

Metal is expensive, hard to recycle, and it’s a resource that’s running out as we continue to make everything we can out of it. From soda cans to the cars we drive, it’s all made of some type of metal, but soon it could be replaced with a hemp-based alternative. We’ve already got hemp scooters, hemp cars, and hemp planes, so it’s only a matter of time before the average person rides, flies, and drives in it too.

Cement

We use cement to build roads, parking garages, bridges, buildings, and more, but it doesn’t have a very good lifespan, and once it’s degraded, it’s nearly impossible to get rid of without leaving a huge stain on the environment. Luckily, there’s hempcrete, an incredible alternative that will last longer, hold up to more abuse, and eventually break down to feed the surrounding lands instead of poisoning it.

Gasoline

Gasoline is a multi-billion dollar industry, and most of the world still relies on it to do things like getting to work because we really don’t have any other mainstream options, but it’s terrible for the environment and difficult to get and transport.  Hemp fuel, on the other hand, produces minimal to no emissions, and we don’t have to hurt the plant to obtain it.

Material

Hemp clothing is popular these days, but sweaters, ballcaps, and t-shirts aren’t the only things we can make from these incredible plants. Hemp can be used to make rope, tents, sleeping bags, couches, chairs, and pretty much anything else you can think of that’s made of a soft, pliable material, and it’s strong, so these things will last longer than our current alternatives.

Why we haven't done it yet

We’ve got thousands of hemp farmers popping up all over the place, with many interested in this forward progress towards a more sustainable future, but very few are lucky enough to sell their crops for a fair price to a bidder who intends on using them for something that will truly make a difference. Right now, most plastic, metal, gasoline, cement, and material producers and makers have steady contracts that make it easy to keep on doing what they always have, poising the planet for a profit at the expense of people.

It’s costly to switch machinery, recipes, and building plans to accommodate something new and innovative like hemp, so we haven’t and won’t see this change come in full force until big companies who can afford to make the investment take some initiative and a leap towards a better and brighter tomorrow.

Take the edge off with these fantastic hemp cigarettes

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