Here at Earth Divas, we love hemp. After all, most of our eco handbags are made using hemp from Nepal. Hemp is one of those crops that has so many uses it’d be impossible to fit them all in one post.
In fact, in 1930 Popular Mechanics magazine created a list of products that could be made using hemp. Where’d they stop? 25,000.
This surprises many people, however. When people see the word “hemp” they most often associate the plant with with drug use. But the truth is that humans have been harvesting and using hemp for over 8,500 years. In fact, here in the U.S. hemp was one of our biggest crops in the mid-1800s because there was such a demand for twine and sail cloth.
Now? Hemp has gotten kind of a bad reputation that is largely undeserved. But I wanted to highlight some of the surprising uses for hemp because I think this plant is simply fascinating. And, it deserves some good press.
Hemp makes great paper. Way better than wood pulp. Need proof?
The oldest surviving piece of paper is from China. It’s over 2,000 years old, and it’s made from hemp fiber.
Today, 95% of all paper is made from wood pulp. Hemp is only used in paper that really needs to last. You know, like our dollar bills.
2. Car Bodies
Henry Ford was the first to recognize that hemp could be used to make car bodies. That’s him in the picture above. Yes, he’s swinging an ax at that car to show people how durable the body is. The body is made using soybeans and hemp.
3. Building Materials
Thermal insulation is the third largest use of hemp. Surprised? I was. I can’t imagine how cool it would be to have my home insulated with hemp. But apparently, this is quite common.
Hemp is also used to make fiberboard, plaster, cement and molded fiberboard products (like decks and tiles).
4. Animal Bedding
The woody core of the hemp stalks (called “hurds”) makes great animal bedding. If you have birds or gerbils, then you might be able to find hemp animal bedding.
Using hemp instead of wood shavings is really advantageous because the hemp absorbs five times more moisture than wood, it produces no dust (which is beneficial for those of us with allergies) and it’s easy to compost.
So there you have it! Four uses for hemp that you might not have known about. Hemp is definitely a wonder crop? And, it also happens to make some beautiful eco handbags.
Filed under: Hemp on December 24th, 2010