I Have A Hempy Dream!


This morning after taking my daughter to school (when I am driving is when I have my best ideas and do my best thinking) I had a thought. It wasn’t a new thought, but it had new energy.

I’ve always wanted to be involved with Habitat for Humanity. But my idea, my dream has a new twist. HEMP Habitats for Humanity. Solar hemp homes! I want to help put families in their own homes, homes that are carbon negative, environmentally healthy, and energy efficient. I want to get dirty, drive some nails, use my hands to help create a healthy environment for those that need a roof over their heads.

I, also, dream to have one of those homes. Solar. Hemp. Energy efficient. Clean. Healthy. Bright. A place that I know will not tax our planet, but HELP it.

I want to start by building one in each state. Can you imagine the impact just from one carbon negative home? I want this to go viral. I can envision communities like this, pockets of clean, green areas that heal, not harm.

I want this to be a movement, a wave. Wait, let me backtrack. WANT means lack. It WILL happen, and it will happen in my lifetime.

How will this happen? I do not know. But I do know I am not alone in this dream. I have put this dream out to the Universe, and where there is a will, a desire, there is always a way.

Who is with me? Who will join me in envisioning this dream and making it happen?

The time is NOW. For our planet, our environment, our economy, our children.

So, hop on this ride, folks, let’s make it happen!

Economic Stimulus? Think HEMP!


Last night’s vice-presidential debate had me thinking quite a bit this morning. Almost all of the topics, in some way or other, had to do with money. Defense – money. Economy – money. Taxes – money. Medicare – money. Health – money. Social Security – money. Employment/unemployment – money.

And by now you are wondering, “Where is she going with this?”

I’ll tell you. The United States’ economy is not at it’s healthiest point right now. People are hurting. Businesses are hurting. Some American farmers are hurting. Unemployment is at an unacceptable level. Fossil fuel energy is HIGH. Now, I must also remind you that everything is energy, money is energy. Energy fluctuates. Everything fluctuates, up and down, never in a steady, static line.

I came across several articles stating that greener businesses are growing at a faster percentage rate than the actual economy growth. Here are a few examples of some ‘green’ business types: bicycles, thrift and re-purposing stores, electric/hybrid cars (some which use hemp panels), wind/solar energy, and green construction (both industrial and residential).

BUT, like I stated above, green businesses are GROWING. What does this growth mean? Jobs. Income. Security. Economic growth. And…environmental conscience.

Below is an excerpt from one of the articles I read:

 

  • Greener industries grow faster than the overall economy. For every percentage-point increase in an industry’s green intensity, annual employment growth was 0.034 percentage points higher. Future projections suggest continued job growth from green intensity.
  • States with greater green intensity generally fared better in the economic downturn.
  • Green jobs are accessible to workers without a college degree. For every 1 percentage-point increase in green intensity in a given industry, there was a corresponding 0.28 percentage-point increase in the share of jobs in that industry held by workers without a four-year college degree.
  • Manufacturing plays a strong role in the green economy. The sector accounts for 20.4 percent of all green jobs despite representing only 10.8 percent of total private employment. Furthermore, the green industries within the manufacturing sector are projected to grow 25 percent faster than the overall sector.

Much of the current discussion about green jobs focuses on the renewable-energy industry and thus overlooks how pervasive green jobs are throughout the economy. In truth, the utility sector accounts for just three percent of total private green jobs, and even within that sector, the water and sewage industry accounts for over four times the number of green jobs as renewable energy.  Occupations such as garbage collectors, sewage workers, construction workers, household-appliance manufacturers and bus drivers are as integral to the green economy as solar-panel installers or wind-turbine manufacturers.

“Transitioning to a greener and more sustainable economy is good for the environment, but it also helps promote stronger economic growth and opportunity,” said Pollack.  “And the seeds of this transformation are planted throughout the economy, oftentimes in unexpected places.”  (enewspf.com)

“Seeds.”  Did you see that? And you KNOW which direction I am taking that – HEMP!

Hemp is one of the GREENEST products on the planet. It is carbon negative. It’s growing season is approximately 4 months. It can be used to manufacture ANY product that is also made with carbon-based fossil fuels. Hemp can also be used in construction – interior, exterior, foundation to roof. It is biodegradable, cleans the air, heals the soil, uses less water than cotton or other crops, doesn’t need fertilizer or pesticides, and can be grown ABUNDANTLY in many climates. Not only that, it’s nutritional value makes it an important food crop.

Hemp can put our farmers to work. (See also American Farmland Trust.) Hemp, being a GREEN resource, can help our economy grow faster, put manufacturers to work, and start the process to heal our planet from the damage done by pulling fossil fuels out of the ground.

My vote is for HEMP!

Hemp Habitats – Homes of the Future?


Hemp homes, while not mainstream yet, are the cutting edge of green building and living. Hemp, one of the strongest and most durable fibers on the planet, is being used for foundations, walls, roofing, insulation, and indoor textiles and installations.

Hemcrete is made with hemp hurds  and lime, and is stronger, lighter, and more flexible than concrete. It is used for foundations and wall structures, and is a carbon-negative substitute for traditional concrete.

Buildings account for 38% of the CO2 emissions in the U.S., according to the U.S. Green Building Council and demand for carbon neutral and/or zero-footprint buildings is at an all-time high.” (Inhabitat.com)

Hempboard is a fiber board made with hemp hurds. It can be used for walls, cabinetry, doors, shelves, furniture, and flooring.

Hemp insulation comes in many forms – mat and roll, spun and loosely compacted hemp fiber insulation, and hemcrete.

Hemp roof tiles can come in several shapes and sizes.

In all of the above applications, hemp is the perfect choice  because it is:

Water resistant

Insect resistant

Mold resistant

Rodent repellent

In some applications, the products are fire-resistant and,

In all applications the hemp is an excellent insulator and of course, helps to keep the air in the home clean.

Any why, do you ask, are hemp homes carbon negative? The growing and harvesting of the hemp plants lock up a larger amount of carbon dioxide (cleaning the air and environment)  than the lime binder used in the hemcrete production.

Farming hemp in the U.S. and building more hemp structures would be valuable – both economically AND environmentally.

Hemp – A Cash Crop For Medicine, Food, And Shelter


The 1938 Edition of Popular Mechanics called hemp The New Billion Dollar Crop. (You can see the article here: http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/hemp/popmech1.htm)

Unfortunately, the Billion Dollar Crop was not meant to be. Randolph Hearst’s newspapers depended on wood (he owned several sawmills) and his investments in timber would be threatened. DuPont’s chemicals were also a factor, in that they were used with the wood pulp to create the paper. Hemp was a threat to timber, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and oil.

What exactly is a cash crop? A cash crop is a crop grown for direct sale, as opposed to being grown for the farmer’s use (livestock feed, etc.). Before prohibition, hemp WAS  a cash crop. Hemp was used for food, textiles, fuel, medicine, and housing. It was also used as money. People could pay their taxes with hemp!

Hemp can produce ten times the methanol as corn. Crop rotation is not necessary, as the hemp enriches the soil on its own. It does not need pesticides or herbicides.

Up until the 20th century, hemp WAS the largest cash crop in America.

Today there is a movement to get BACK to hemp. Hemp farming is legal in several states, but getting the permits from the DEA is next to impossible. Farmers WANT to grow hemp. With over 50,000 products that can be produce from hemp, it IS the perfect choice.

Hemp fibers are the longest and strongest in the plant kingdom. Hemp fabric lasts longer than cotton and is less chemical and water intensive.

Hempseeds and hempseed oil are an excellent nutrition source, with the perfect 3:1 ratio of Omega fatty acids, easily digestible proteins, and other nutrients needed for optimum health.

Hemp fuel is safe and clean.

Hemp used in construction means cleaner, stronger structures – and structures made from hemp are carbon neutral; in some cases they are carbon negative.

Hemp fabric and clothing are becoming more popular; hemp foods are found in health food stores, food co-ops, and some grocery stores.

Hemp plastics and automobile components are becoming more popular as well.

Most of the hemp imported into the U.S. comes from Canada and China. New figures show that the U.S. spends more than $300,000,000 per year on hemp products – both finished products and raw hemp.

In Kentucky, lawmakers are promoting hemp as a cash crop.

Willie Nelson, in the following video, explains why hemp farming should be restored to the U.S.

The hemp market is GLOBAL. Imagine if the U.S. could put farmers to work, growing cash crops of hemp, and having the ability to be a SUPPLIER of hemp world-wide. It truly WOULD be a billion dollar crop.

Hemp – A Current Need for an Ancient Seed


Hemp. It’s been around for at least 10,000 years. Many cultures, societies, and countries used this wonderful plant as medicine, food, and fiber. It cured diseases, it eradicated hunger, it clothed us, it sheltered us.

Our country once depended on industrial hemp. It was our clothing, our food, our medicine, our paper (the Declaration of Independence was written on hemp paper). It was an important part of our economy. The federal government, via the USDA, encouraged farmers to grow hemp for the war effort (WWII – you can see the USDA film Hemp for Victory here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jokV8xlJTNE). Taxes could be paid with hemp. It was CURRENCY.

Why do we need hemp today? Let’s first look at what has replaced hemp.

Food – our food has become fast, convenient, yet less nutritional. Canned and processed foods have become laden with chemicals and preservatives. The nutrition has been cooked out of it. The essential nutrients that our bodies need have become secondary to ease and preparation. Some foods have been genetically modified.

Fibers – hemp clothing and rope has been replaced with synthetics. Nylon and polyester are synthetics that are fossil-fuel and chemical-based. And in the processing we have damaged the environment and polluted our earth, air, and water.

Medicine – Nutritional medicine has been replaced with chemical medications. I am not saying ALL chemical medications are bad, but have you seen the pages of warnings and side effects for those drugs? They are dangerous, especially if too many are taken or if dosages are too high.

Fuel – renewable hemp fuel, which is cleaner, safer, and environmentally responsible has been replaced with non-renewable pollution-laden fossil fuels. And where do we get those fossil fuels? Some are in the US, some are imported. (Plus, look at the cost.) Some wars were even fought because of this!

Why do we need hemp now more than ever?

1. Hemp is environmentally safe. While hemp grows it heals the soil and cleans the air. Processing is less chemical intensive than processing cotton and carbon-based products.

2. Hemp is healthy. Hemp is a complete protein. It also has the perfect ratio of Omega fatty acids needed by the human body. It is CLEAN food, it is CLEAN medicine.

3. Hemp can put our farmers back to work and boost our economy. Did you know that the US imports all of its hemp? Canadian exports of hemp for 2010 reached about $10,000,000. With the legalization of hemp farming we can have healthy, clean food products, healthy hemp homes, create hemp-based plastics and cars – the list is endless. Hemp can be manufactured into approximately 30,000 products. Can you see how this crop would help our economy?

4. Hemp can fuel our cars and boats, heat our homes, and be used in ovens and stoves. It is a clean, healthy fuel that is renewable and safe.

This wonderful plant, which has been used for centuries, has thousands upon thousands of uses – biodegradable, nourishing products and safe, clean energy.

This seed will NOT go away, it will continue to make its way back to the mainstream. It MUST. Our physical, economical, and environmental health depend on it.

Hemp – Nature’s ‘Green Gold’


Gold. For as long as time, gold has been sought after for it’s value, beauty, and usefulness.

We’ve heard or read the phrases that reflect gold as important or valuable or honored:

“Gold Standard”

“As Good as Gold”

“Gold is Forever”

“The Golden Rule”

Yes, gold is shiny, gold is precious, gold is respected. However, there is another element that has as much value as gold, if not more. It is green gold. Yes, I am talking about hemp.

For thousands upon thousands of years hemp has been revered, valued, and utilized. It has fed us, clothed us, healed us. Hemp has given us oil, fuel, energy.

As food, hemp is one of the most nutritionally complete plants on earth. It is a complete protein, containing all necessary amino acids needed by the human body. It has the perfect 3:1 ratio of Omega fatty acids; it contains vitamins, minerals, fiber, chlorophyll, calcium, and iron. Because it is so nutrient dense, it can literally be a meal itself.

Hemp fibers produce strong, durable, and yet soft textiles. Hemp textile artifacts have been found from thousands of years ago – still intact! Hemp fabric is UV resistant, is slow to break down under many washings, and can be as soft as cotton. Hemp clothing has been proven to last longer than cotton and some synthetic fibers.

Hemp as medicine – nutrition is one of the foundations for good health. However, we often find ourselves dealing with diseases or conditions – sometimes from injuries, lack of proper nutrients, genetics, or environmental toxins. Hemp is a known anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory plant. It helps with brain disorders (Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, depression, bipolar disorder, PTSD), diabetes, cancer, Crohn’s disease, stroke, heart disease, cellular repair, MS, Lupus, skin disorders, vision…the list goes on and on. What other plant on earth can help these conditions (and more)?

Hemp fuel (biomass) can remove or dependence on non-renewable fossil fuels. It can fuel our cars, we can cook with it, we can heat with it. Hemp energy, or carbohydrate energy, is clean, efficient, and does not harm the environment or the air. If spilled,  hemp fuel will not damage the earth or poison the water – it will simply act more like a fertilizer.

Farming hemp would boost our economy; the hemp farms would also have a hand in cleaning our air and soils.

Building with hemp – did you know in France there is a bridge that was built with hemp? It is still there, and it was built in the 6th century. Homes with hemp construction (foundation, baseboards, walls, insulation, roof tiles, pipes, carpets, etc.) leave a NEGATIVE carbon footprint. Hemp insulation helps keep the air in the home clean; hemp is also mold- , insect-, and rodent-repellent.

I can think of no other substance on earth that can feed us with perfect nutrition, clothe us with fibers that are durable and soft, treat and heal our diseases, house us, give us clean renewable energy, (and be used for automobile construction), clean our air and soil, give us paper and plastics…and while doing all this bringing no harm to the earth or the populations.

Hemp – a VALUABLE renewable resource. Hemp IS green gold.

Hemp ~ Our Planet’s EcoSolution


Hemp is more than just a plant ~ it is a gift from nature that can be manufactured into nearly 50,000 items.

We are at a time when we are becoming more conscious of what we eat, wear, use, and HOW we use it, in addition to the impact these items have on our environment and planet.

HEMP AS FOOD AND MEDICINE

Hemp is proven to be one of the natural ways to keep optimum health. It is used as food (hemp seed, hemp seed oil) and medicine. Because hemp is so nutrient-rich, it can, in some cases, eliminate the need for vitamin supplements (in addition to a proper diet). It has the perfect ratio of Omega fatty acids needed by the body. Hemp is also an anti-inflammatory, repairs cells, heals/treats/eliminates disease, and is a perfect energy food.

HEMP AS FUEL

Hemp hurds can be up to 85% cellulose. Ethanol is processed from cellulose, making it the perfect clean fuel. Automobile engines that run on fossil fuels are one of the main sources of greenhouse gases; moving to hemp fuel will allow for cleaner air and less pollution. Gasoline engines produce a carbon residue, engines that run on hemp fuel do not release carbon emissions like gasoline.

HEMP AS PAPER AND PLASTIC

Again, this is where the high cellulose content comes into play. Cellulose is one of the most common organic compounds on the earth. Cellulose is used in paper production (cardstock, cardboard), textile production and even is a component in rayon. Trees are 30-40% cellulose, and in order to make paper products many chemicals and other components must be used. Not so with hemp. Fossil fuel-based plastics can also be replaced with hemp. Hemp plastics are cleaner, stronger, and lighter; hemp plastic components are now being used in vehicle production. Hemp paper and plastic products are biodegradable and will not harm the environment; in fact, if left to decompose they would act more like fertilizer.

HEMP FOR BUILDING

Hemp is an excellent choice for building. It is strong, clean, antibacterial, mold-, rot-, insect-, and pest-repellent. Hemcrete used for foundations is stronger and more flexible than ordinary concrete. Hemp insulation has a high R-value and cleans the air. There are now hemp roof tiles, hemp oil based paints, hemp carpets, curtains, upholstery. Hemp fiberboard is stronger than ordinary fiberboard.

HEMP CLOTHING

Clothing made from hemp lasts longer than clothing processed from cotton. It has excellent thermal properties, is UV resistant, and stays strong after many washings. Cotton is very chemical and water intensive in growth and processing; hemp is not. The first Levi jeans were made from hemp, mainly for the gold-rushers in Nevada.

HEMP FOR BODY CARE

Hemp oil based products are excellent for hair and skin. The nutrients help the hair stay shiny and strong; the oils are perfect for skin, in all seasons. The oil and nutrients do not sit on the skin, they go INTO the skin for optimum results. Hemp is excellent for moisturizing, for eczema and psoriasis, rashes, neurodermitis, and can also help slow the aging process.

Hemp does not need massive amounts of chemicals to grow, it does not need pesticides or fertilizers. It cleans the air as it grows and also helps nourish the soil. It is a clean solution for almost all the products that we now use.

Hemp is THE EcoSolution.

Hemp Building Materials ~ Part 2


Recently I posted an article about hemp making a comeback as a building material (January 1 2012 post). Today I want to go into a little more detail about hemp building materials and their properties pertaining to their low toxicity and strength.

Let’s start with the foundation. Hemcrete is an excellent component for the foundation of a home. Hemp hurds are mixed with lime, cement, plaster, and water. A chemical reaction between the lime and the hemp hardens the mixture. As time goes on the compound continues to harden. (Archeologists found a bridge in France from the Merovingian period, 500-750 AD, that used this same process, and it is still standing today.) Hemcrete is half as light as traditional concrete foundations, yet 7 times stronger; it is also flexible, which is excellent for earthquake-prone areas.

Hemcrete walls have the same properties as hemcrete foundations and are 3 times more flexible as wood walls. Hemcrete is an excellent insulator as far as temperature is concerned and a sound insulator as well. Hemcrete is insect-, rot-, mold-resistant and does not release deadly toxins into the air; in fact, hemcrete walls will help CLEAN the air inside the home. It is also waterproof and fireproof.

“If hemp were legal in the United States, it would be the cheapest source of raw material for concrete-like foundations. Plus hemp hurds can be processed in existing wood mills without major changes to the equipment. Hemp-foundation homes are ecologically appropriate because they are inexpensive, and can be prepared on site using only a cement mixer, and the material would be cheap and abundant.” (Hemphasis.net)

Washington State University, in Pullman, Washington, developed a hemp fiberboard (similar to plywood). It is 3 times more flexible and twice as strong as traditional wood fiberboard. It has excellent weather and sound proof capabilities, is non-toxic, and is moisture-, mold- and pest-resistant.

Pipes can be made out of hemp fiber (hemp concrete pipes). They are more flexible than plastic pipes and are less prone to cracking.

Hemp insulation comes in many varieties. It has excellent R- value and thermal properties and works just as well as fiberglass insulation and other types of chemical based insulations, without the toxicity. Hemp insulation can be either hemcrete or rolled/mat style insulation, and again, is mold, insect, and rodent repellent.

Hemp homes are carbon neutral, and in some cases carbon negative. With more people being concerned about the carbon footprint they leave behind, hemp IS the perfect choice, for the health of the home inhabitants AND for the environment.

Hemp ~ A Perfect Ingredient For Cars And Construction


BBC – Countryfile, Episode 987 – November 2, 2008

This wonderful clip shows how hemp is used in automobiles (the Lotus) and in construction. How fantastic it would be to farm and manufacture products from this versatile crop ~ HEMP ~ here in the United States!

Hemp Making A Comeback ~ As A Building Material


You’ve heard that it is an excellent nutritional source, and that it is an excellent material for textiles. But did you know that industrial hemp is an exceptional substance for construction?

Let’s start at the ground level. Hemcrete as a foundation is the perfect basis for a structure. Hemcrete is a substance consisting of hemp hurds, lime, sand, plaster, cement and water. When dry, it is stone-hard; however, it also is flexible.

As insulation, hemp is ideal. It ‘breathes’ and helps clean the air, regulates humidity, is mildew resistant, fire resistant, insect resistant and waterproof when used above ground. The R-value of hemp insulation is comparable to other fiber insulation materials, about R-3.5 per inch.

Hemp composite boards (similar to plywood) have been in the making and tested by Washington State University. It was found that the hemp composite boards were 2 ½ times stronger than wood AND 3 time more elastic than wood composites. Similar to the hempcrete, hemp composite boards are water resistant.

Buildings and structures account for approximately 40% of CO2 emissions in the United States, thus creating a larger demand for environmentally wise building products. Homes constructed with hemp have a carbon neutral or carbon negative impact on the environment.

Because of the multitude applications of hemp, a home can be constructed almost entirely of hemp, even down to hemp plastic pipes (flexible and resistant to cracking) and roofing tiles, hemp carpets, and hemp-oil based paints.

Environmental responsibility and sustainability are becoming more prevalent; it makes sense that industrial hemp is the way to go when it comes to construction. And, most importantly, hemp building materials are 100% recyclable.

How wonderful it would be to see more homes and buildings taking advantage of hemp, a perfect non-toxic, renewable, earth-friendly source.