Hemp, The Other Good-For-You Fiber

By Liz Robins / April 18, 2012

Given its strength, versatility and sustainability, hemp seems almost too good to be true. The oilseed and fiber varieties of the plant species Cannabis sativa L. (not to be confused with psychoactive varieties of Cannabis) is being used to make everything from paper and textiles to building materials and foods—with relatively little environmental impact.

This renewable resource grows 150 times faster than trees and produces four times the yield. It grows well without pesticides or fertilizers and doesn’t require much water. In addition, hemp helps build soil, making it a good rotation crop.

Hemp—one of the strongest, most durable fibers around—is long lasting, holds its shape over time, gets softer with age, naturally resists UV light and mold, and blends well with other fibers such as silk and flax. “It can be used in everything from heavy canvases to lightweight linens,” says Tony Budden, a partner in Hemporium (hemporium.co.za), which offers textiles and select custom pieces. “Hemp chipboard is lighter than wood and does not use formaldehyde binder, making it a healthier alternative for interior furniture.”

U.S. farmers are prohibited from cultivating hemp because federal government policy doesn’t distinguish between Cannabis varieties that contain THC, marijuana’s main psychoactive ingredient, and the industrial kind that contains little to no THC. As a result, hemp must be imported—at least for now.

Hemp History Week is June 4 – 10; hemphistoryweek.com.

–Liz Robins

Elegant & Durable

Rose Tarlow makes beautiful hemp print fabrics. rosetarlow.com


Fine with Feathers

Arhaus’s Algernon Grain Sack Pillow features hemp cording, a jute cover and a feather-down insert. arhaus.com


Liz Robins
Liz Robins

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