Could hemp save the planet?
Could hemp could save the planet?
Could hemp save the planet? For years, there have been anecdotal reports about the potential effects that hemp derived cannabinoids can have on the body. Users report everything from lowered levels of anxiety and stress, to increased appetite and creativity. It seems like hemp has some major potential but so much more research needs to be conducted before we can form any definite conclusions. The coolest thing about hemp, though is that it’s potential doesn’t seem to be limited to the chemical compounds contained within. We’ve complied a list of benefits that growing hemp may have on the overall health of the planet.
1. Hemp replenishes soil
Hemp is an ideal crop to plant in rotation with other crops for a number of reasons. For one, it produces huge amounts of biomass that returns to the soil adding nutrients back into the ground. For another, hemp’s roots reach deep down into the soil. This is good because it not only holds the soil together, reducing erosion, it also loosens the soil which allowing more delicate plants to grow. Hemp plants are quite happy to grow in all types of soil, even if it is contaminated. When hemp is planted in polluted soil, it absorbs heavy metals and toxins are absorbed into the plants themselves. In Fact, there have been promising test results using contaminated soil from areas around Chernobyl, although more research still needs to be done.
2. Hemp is an air purifier
Hemp plants produce a huge amount of oxygen because they have numerous dense green leaves. In fact, one acre of hemp can produce as much oxygen as 25 acres of trees. Hemp is able to capture carbon dioxide emissions from the atmosphere leaving the air we breathe much cleaner. Hemp absorbs more carbon dioxide than any other crop; 1 tonne of hemp removes 1.63 tonnes of carbon from the air.
3. Hemp Biomass used as fuel
Hemp biomass is generally seen as waste by growers and consists of the stalks, seeds, and leaves of the hemp plant. But, this biomass can be turned into 2 main types of biofuel:
- Hemp biodiesel, from pressed hemp seed oil
- Hemp ethanol/methanol, from the fermented stalks.
Using certain processes, hemp can produce both ethanol and methanol and Biodiesel. The other really cool thing, it is the only alternative fuel source that works in any diesel engine! Not only that but Biodiesel is safe to store, handle, and transport, it is biodegradable and less flammable than it petroleum based counterpart.
4. Hemp can help curb world hunger
Hemp seeds are super nutritious and contain high levels of calories, minerals, fatty acids, and vitamin A, B, D, and E. These little seeds are an excellent source of easily absorbable complete plant-based protein. Because of this, it might be able to prevent protein-energy malnutrition and since hemp can grow under even the most undesirable conditions, it can be planted almost everywhere in the world.
5. Cultivating hemp reduces deforestation
Each year we cut down an estimated 15 billion trees. The effects of deforestation on this scale, are devastating and include soil erosion and infertility, increased greenhouse gases, increased CO2 in the atmosphere and disruption of the ecosystem. Making the switch to hemp for the production of paper and other goods derived from trees would have a huge impact and could save the planet.
6. Hemp builds stronger healthier homes
Hemp acts as a natural insulation material. It has the ability to hold onto moisture, allowing it to act as a humidity regulator and of course, it’s recyclable. By combining hemp and lime, a fascinating building material is made, called Hempcrete. The most interesting thing about it is that a one cubic meter hempcrete brick captures 20 kg of CO2 from the atmosphere. A cubic meter of low-density hempcrete used as spray insulation can remove 60kg of CO2 from the atmosphere. This is because even as hempcrete, this material acts as a carbon store for as long as it exists! This means that hempcrete can actually help fight climate change and help save the planet. If we use it as a primary material for foundations, floors, roofs, walls, cabinets, insulation, shingles, brick or block work, and sheeting it can remove tons and tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Growing hemp can do for the environment, it’s a wonder why there isn’t more mainstream discussion about the benefits. In fact, this list barely scratches the surface of the true potential of hemp. Not only can it have a positive impact in future, it may reverse the damage that has already been caused. Hemp has over 25000 estimated uses from fuel to textiles to nutrition and everything in between. One must pose the question, how might the world look today if hemp had never been made illegal? With all that hemp can do, maybe it’s time to open the door to the full potential this plant has to offer.