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Raw Materials - Hemp

Below is the inside panel of the consumer hangtag for our hemp products.


SUSTAINABLE FEATURES OF HEMP

2300 years ago hemp was already considered an environmental fiber, for its ability to conserve resources. In this case, the Yellow emporer advised the citizens of China to choose hemp, a vegetable fiber, over animal-based clothing, because as a vegetable fiber, hemp was acknowledged to be more renewable and able to serve the needs of the people of China. In today's world, hemp continues to be a choice for sustainable textiles not just as an alternative to leather, but also as an alternative of oil-derived synthetic fibers, and an alternative to conventionally grown cotton.

Hemp is part of a family of fibers called, "bast fibers". The word bast means that the fiber comes from the bark of the plant. Cotton, by comparison, comes from the flower of the plant. The flower of any plant is much more prone to severe pest damage than the bark. Therefore, bast fiber plants normally do not need the same amount of chemical useage as cotton.

Hemp and other bast fibers such as flax can grow well outside of the over-used cotton belt. As many have reported, the soils of the cotton belt are highly contaminated from the intensive chemicals needed for cotton cultivation, and many aquifers have been depleted badly from irrigation used on much of this crop. Hemp and flax, on the other hand do not need this prime farmland, require little or no chemicals, and normally are not irrigated.

Hemp grown for fiber has other very special characteristics which contribute to sustainable agriculture. Hemp for fiber is seeded with a very high density. After seeding there is normally no additional tilling. The plants quickly form a total leaf canopy over the surface of the ground. This coverage of foiliage shades out competing plants, and has been noted to be an effective natural way to clean up fields of persistent weed problems, as well as proving any herbicide application unnecessary. This leaf canopy also shades the soil beneath from direct sun contact, thereby keeping more moisture in the ground below. This shaded, moist environment promotes biodiversity by providing a suitable habitat for small animals, insects and other micro-organisms.

Hemp's deep taproot has been proven to be good for preventing soil erosion during the growing season, and continuing post-harvest until the next growing season.

HEMP FIBER PROPERTIES

Hemp has long been known to be a strong and longlasting fiber. Although the individual "elemental" fibers within the plant's bark are shorter than cotton, the fibers naturally bond together to form long fiber "chains", actually as long as the plant is tall. In the finest, strongest pure hemp yarns, the fibers can be several feet long. The extreme length of the fibers helps to add to the overall strength of the textile. There are a variety of lengths of shorter fibers which are by products of the long fiber production. These shorter fibers may not create textiles quite as stong, but they often result in a softer handfeel, and also can be blended and spun with fibers such as wool, cotton, or polyester.

Hemp has inherent UV resistant and mold and rot resistant properties. The shape of the fiber helps deflect the sun's rays. The fiber's relatively smooth surface does not provide the same nooks and crannies for bacteria and fungus to lodge and grow, compared to cotton. Also hemp retains a high degree of strength when wet. These properties made hemp a top choice throughout history for marine applications such as rope, sails and oakum. But for the same reasons, creates added-value for many home textile and apparel applications.

Because of its high moisture absorbency, and moisture transfer properties, hemp is known to be an ideal apparel fabric for hot summer weather and tropical climates.

Hemp is purported also to be an effective radiation barrier. We were told by some Polish researchers that the Russians use hemp as an undergarment for their cosmonauts as a protection against radiation.

Hemp and linen share almost identical physical properties, and can only easily be identified when studying the direction of the fiber's twist when wet.