A MATTER OF FABRICS: HEMP
Hemp has been around since day one. It’s a durable plant with heaps of uses that leaves a small footprint. Best thing is, it can be made into natural, breathable and long-lasting threads too.
What makes hemp fabric a sustainable choice?
Hemp is one of the most useful and valuable plants that has ever existed on our planet. For millennia, the plant has been used for food, fibre and medicine. However, for the past few decades hemp has been processed to make eco-friendly alternatives to modern necessities such as concrete, plastics, fuels and textiles.
There's numerous reasons why hemp is the most sustainable choice of fabric. It's easy to grow, thriving in an inhospitable environment without the need for harmful pesticides. It's remarkably efficient at recycling carbon dioxide - an acre of hemp sequesters 10 times more carbon than an acre of trees. And lastly, hemp doesn't require a lot of water to grow. The plant yields double the amount of fibers than a cotton plant and its roots are beneficial for the soil, protecting it from toxins and erosion.
Why don't we see more hemp clothing around?
It’s been nearly 30 years since experts managed to manufacture a hemp fabric soft enough to compete with cotton. However, cultivating hemp has been outlawed in numerous countries due to the fact that it sits within the Cannabis species. Not only has this limited the supply, research and understanding of the hemp plant, it's hampered the commercial development of its products. It will take some time before hemp textile manufacturing hits a scale that can become price competitive but thankfully, brand leaders such as Levi’s, Patagonia and Passenger are helping bring hemp fabric back into the mainstream.
What does hemp fabric feel like to wear?
Hemp fabric is extremely durable and surprisingly soft and flexible. Some people have a misconception that hemp fabric is rugged, rough or scratchy but the technology has improved massively over the last few years. Today it’s a cleaner, silkier and smoother fabric on par with Cotton. It accounts for about 50% of my own wardrobe and now Goodrays is moving all of its t-shirts to hemp as part of a wider sustainability push to create carbon neutral products using the entire cannabis plant.