Cotton is a household staple. It makes up the majority of clothes in anyone’s closet, and for a good reason. Cotton is cheap, widely available, and relatively comfortable.
However, environmentalists are increasingly concerned about the role cotton is playing in the planet’s demise. As it turns out, growing cotton takes up quite a few resources.
But is there a practical alternative?
One alternative is hemp. Proponents of hemp claim that this plant could solve quite a few environmental problems when it comes to clothes manufacturing. Additionally, hemp-based products like CBD oil may offer health benefits too. It seems there is no end to the plant’s potential.
In today’s article, we look at the hemp vs. cotton debate to determine whether a full-on switch would indeed be beneficial – or even practical.
A Brief History of Hemp
To understand the hemp vs. cotton debate, let’s take a look at hemp’s longstanding place in human history.
Hemp has been around for millennia. It grows all over the planet, and it didn’t take long for ancient civilizations to realize its bountiful uses. Hemp is a sturdy, hardy plant. Its stalks are fibrous and thick, allowing them to be used in construction. The seeds are also highly nutritious, which is why many people use hemp seeds as part of the paleo diet and other nutrition plans.
Experts estimate that hemp has been in usage since around 8,000 B.C. This is long before humans cultivated plants themselves and long before the invention of the technologies required to make clothes. Nevertheless, hemp stuck around with humanity, and we began to use it in different ways.
1) Growing Hemp vs. Growing Cotton
Earlier, we mentioned that growing industrial hemp could be sustainable. Hemp has an absurd number of uses, including textiles, nutrition, and construction. As a result, a field of hemp can be harvested for a variety of purposes. Different parts of the hemp plant can be utilized in various industries, meaning virtually 100% of the plant is put to use. Very little is wasted.
Hemp also saves space. Hemp plants are tall, thin, and don’t take up much room. In many instances, they also don’t need pesticides or chemicals. After all, hemp is a hardy, natural plant. It grows well on its own without interference. On the other hand, cotton is believed to be responsible for 25% of the world’s pesticide use!
And as for water usage, hemp definitely wins out. To produce 1kg (a little over 2lbs) of cotton, growers may require more than 20,000 liters of water. For reference, this much cotton is the equivalent of a single t-shirt and a pair of jeans.
According to data from the Stockholm Environment Institute, 1 kg of dry hemp matter can be made using just 300-500 liters of water. Furthermore, 30% of this can be used for fiber production.
And, of course, hemp crops can be mostly rain-fed. Without the need for irrigation systems (or at least a reduced need), the environment benefits tremendously.
2) Hemp vs. Cotton Clothing
As with everything in the world, there are pros and cons to hemp textiles. To make hemp clothing, manufacturers use durable hemp fibers from the stalks and leaves of the plant. The qualities of these fibers dictate the characteristics of the final material, which can feel quite different from the cotton we are used to.
One of the significant differences between hemp cloth and cotton is that hemp clothes tend to be made from just hemp. These days, cotton tends to be mixed with various synthetic fibers and plastics, which may contribute to microplastic pollution in the air we breathe. On the other hand, 100% hemp clothing is not hard to come by, meaning you know exactly what is in your outfit.
Significant positives of hemp clothing include:
- Highly durable
- Becomes softer (and more comfortable) over time
- Highly breathable
- Holds color
- Environmentally friendly
3) Hemp-Based Health Products
It’s common knowledge that there is little to no nutritional value in cotton. In fact, it’s highly dangerous to consume cotton in any form. However, hemp-based products such as CBD oil are believed to impact the body in useful ways.
The hemp plant contains a broad range of compounds called cannabinoids (CBD, CBG, CBN), terpenes, and other phytonutrients. These compounds can be isolated and manufactured into consumable products like oils and edibles.
But what’s the benefit?
Research suggests that cannabinoids, such as CBD, influence the body’s endocannabinoid system. This system is made up of chemical pathways that impact mood, immune response, appetite, and more. That’s why many believe that consuming CBD can aid with daily concerns like stress, anxiety, and sleep.
At Premium Jane, we advocate for hemp by producing a full range of useful CBD products. From CBD capsules to hydrating day creams, visitors can find a host of practical hemp-based products on our site.
Final Thoughts on Hemp vs. Cotton
Hemp and cotton have a lot in common. Both have been used by humans for thousands of years, and both can be used in textile production.
However, hemp clearly has a number of advantages over cotton, especially when it comes to its potential health benefits. Additionally, it is more environmentally friendly to cultivate, and the hemp fabric is generally more durable.
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