Regarding sustainability, regeneration and climate awareness, hemp is seen as a better option for production than cotton and polyester, even to organic cotton and recycled polyester. Here are the 10 following reasons why that is the case.
Coal, gas and oil
Polyester production demands the use of crude oil, also used as car fuel. Processing polyester in certain parts of the world as in Asia is often based on the usage of coal during the chemical methods. The production itself is also resulting in gas emissions and contribution to pollution. Even the production of cotton products is often demanding the usage of different fuels and other chemicals. Hemp is not only free from fossil fuel usage but also contributes to planetary regeneration and better air quality.
According to different studies, it takes around 10 000 – 20 0000 liters of water to produce 1 kg of cotton. Globally, around 200-300 billion tonnes liter of water is used per year for producing cotton products. Polyester, on the other hand, is produced using much less water per kg than cotton. However, factories that produce polyester also release dangerous substances such as antimony, cobalt, sodium bromide and titanium dioxide into waterways as runoff from the production process. Hemp only uses one-third of cotton’s water and still produces more climate-efficient results.
Pesticides and herbicides
Production of cotton often demands, mainly regarding non-organic cotton, the use of different chemical substances as pesticides to protect from insects. Pesticides and similar substances have a bad impact on nature and the environment, since pesticides and chemicals in cotton production don’t just pollute waterways, but also soil. Degradation of soil results in less fertile and more toxic land leading to losses of forest, natural habitat, and productive farmland. For example, in India, around half of all pesticides are used in cotton production. Hemp production does not need pesticides, plus hemp contributes to healthier soil and regenerative agriculture.
According to different studies, cotton production emits 220 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) annually while polyester is not much better since its production requires an enormous amount of energy to produce, with around 125 MJ of energy used for every 1kg of polyester produced. The carbon emissions alone have significant environmental impacts on ecosystems and wildlife. Hemp is a “carbon-negative” and carbon-reducing plant. As some researchers suggest, each ton of hemp grown can remove around 1.63 tons of CO2 from our atmosphere.
Unlike hemp fibers that totally biodegrade naturally, polyester can take up to 200 years to decompose. Polyester fibers also result in tiny pieces of plastic called microfibers, and with just one wash, polyester releases thousands of plastic microfibers into the water supply. Microplastics account for 31% of the plastic pollution in our oceans and cause significant harm to marine life since when it is thrown out, it ends up in a landfill where it can remain for hundreds of years. Even cotton-based products take a longer time to biodegrade than hemp ones.
Due to the structure of the plant, hemp requires far less land to produce crops than cotton. The hemp growing process is also faster, meaning that hemp farmers can grow larger amounts of hemp than cotton on the same land without depleting the soil. While the environmental impacts of cotton and polyester production come at a significant human cost. The devastation cotton production wrecks on the environment significantly impact farmers, often in developing areas as the case of groundwater pollution results in poor health for many locals who live near cotton farms.
Currently, there are more than 20 000 products made of hemp and the overall social impact is larger and better when compared to cotton and polyester. Hemp can be used as fabric for clothing, sheets, and furniture while hemp oil and hemp seeds are often used medicinally and in beauty and cosmetic products. The many uses of hemp bring great market value to the crop and allow more industries to employ more people. Hemp has outstanding antibacterial properties that surpass cotton and any other natural fiber. This is due to its natural richness in terpenes and cannabinoids. Consequently, hemp fabric is also extremely resistant to mold, mildew and fungi.
Labour and humans
Cotton and polyester production is often associated with problematic, devastating and humiliating standards for labour and workers’ rights. Laborers often work under poor conditions in developing countries with little regard for health and safety precautions. Especially when it comes to cotton production, there are still and have been many cases of child labour such as in Uzbekistan. Hemp is more often associated with fair production, good working conditions and community-organized work based on democratic principles and harmony with nature.
Hemp is one of the strongest and most durable of all-natural textile fibers with better resistance against UV light, mold, and mildew. Hemp produces 250% more fiber than cotton and 600% more fiber than for example, flax on the same land. Hemp also has the highest yield per acre of any natural fiber. Additional hemp processing can include flattening the yarns with pressure to enhance natural luster, wet spinning, and using other treatments like softeners, wrinkle-resistors, dyes, bleaching and other finishes.
Hemp is better than polyester, but also when compared to cotton and even to organic cotton regarding ecological impact, sustainability and regenerative features. Polyester, especially recycled polyester, is more “eco-friendly” than regular plastics but still depends on the usage of crude oil and even coal for its production. Thereby, hemp is much better for sustainable production and consumption. Hemp is as a safe card for everyone who wants to avoid greenwashing behaviors and scandals.
You have now read 10 general categories informing why hemp is a better, greener and healthier alternative when compared to polyester and cotton. You can use the following presentation regarding facts and stats for more information.