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.

Going Green With Hemp Home Furnishings

Hemp is used in many applications today – nutrition, medicine, fuel, plastics, auto components, and textiles. We also see a trend that is leading to green, natural furniture.

Hemp leaves a negative carbon footprint. It nourishes the soil and cleans the air. It is pest resistant, rodent resistant, mold and mildew resistant. Hemp fiber is one of the longest, strongest, and most versatile fibers known to man.

Throughout history ship sails were made from hemp canvas, not cotton, because cotton deteriorated must faster. The first Levi-Strauss jeans were made from hemp.

Furniture made with hemp fabric is durable and withstands water better than other fabrics. Hemp fabric is also stain resistant (to a point – for those of you with children, I’m sure you’ll love this info!). I’m sure you’ve seen or even had upholstery that was near a window for a long time that showed signs of fading. Hemp fabrics are UV resistant, so there is less chance of them fading as quickly as other fabrics.

(French Country Hemp Armchair)

Hemp fabrics have more fire-retardant properties than most fabrics.

Because hemp fabric is so versatile, it can be used on sofas, chairs, as furniture covers, pillow covers, seat cushion covers, rugs, and curtains. A note about hemp curtains – unlined hemp curtains will fade over time, but it takes much longer than curtains made from other fabrics.

(Chenille Hemp Rug)

So, if you are thinking of creating a greener home, why not start with hemp furnishings?

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 For Clothing? Hanes Liked The Idea!

For nearly 10,000 years hemp has been used as a fiber for clothing. Did you know that the first Levi Strauss jeans were made from hemp?

Hemp fabric is stronger, lasts longer, and just as soft as cotton! Hemp fibers do not break down as quickly and easily as cotton when exposed to sunlight, weather, and washing.

Hemp is one of the world’s strongest natural fibers. The oldest hemp fabric was found in tombs dated to approximately 8000 years ago.

Hemp prohibition had a hand in allowing hemp to fall to the wayside. It was replaced with chemical-based synthetic fibers such as nylon and polyester.  So, why did cotton, a natural fiber itself, continue to be popular? Two reasons : it did not have the negative stigma attached to it like hemp did (it was less controversial), and it was a well-established industry.

Cotton is a very water-intensive and chemical-intensive crop. Cotton is one of the dirtiest crops grown today. When I say ‘dirty’, I mean it uses huge amounts of pesticides (nearly 20% of the chemical pesticides used on the earth is used on cotton).

Cotton growers typically use many of the most hazardous pesticides on the market including aldicarb, phorate, methamidophos and endosulfan. Cotton pesticides are often broad spectrum organophosphates–pesticides originally developed as toxic nerve agents during World War II–and carbamate pesticides.

Pesticides used on cotton– even when used according to instructions– harm people, wildlife and the environment. These pesticides can poison farm workers, drift into neighboring communities, contaminate ground and surface water and kill beneficial insects and soil micro-organisms.” (www.panna.org)

Aldicarb, parathion, and methamidopho, three of the most acutely hazardous insecticides to human health as determined by the World Health Organization, rank in the top ten most commonly used in cotton production. All but one of the remaining seven most commonly used are classified as moderately to highly hazardous (1).

Aldicarb, cotton’s second best selling insecticide and most acutely poisonous to humans, can kill a man with just one drop absorbed through the skin, yet it is still used in 25 countries and the US, where 16 states have reported it in their groundwater (1)” (www.ota.com)

Cotton is also water intensive, depending on the area that it is grown in.

Hemp, however, is a clean crop. It does not require pesticides and herbicides, and demands less water than cotton.

Hemp fibers are as soft, or softer than cotton, warmer, more absorbent, and more durable.

As a fabric, hemp provides all the warmth and softness of other natural textiles but with a superior durability seldom found in other materials. Natural organic hemp fiber ‘breathes’ and is biodegradable.” (organicclothingblogs.com)

Hemp is also a natural choice for people who have problems with chemical sensitivity.

A new fiber derived from the part of hemp plants typically discarded offers numerous environmental and performance benefits over cotton and is being tested by Hanesbrands.

The Crailar fibers look, fit, dye, wash and are soft like cotton, but they also shrink less, are stronger and hold dyes longer, said Ken Barker, CEO of Naturally Advanced Technology (NAT). Yarns and fabrics made from the fibers can even be processed on existing cotton machines.” (greenbiz.com)

Will Hanes and other companies include hemp in their clothing products? That remains to be seen. But the great thing is that hemp fiber is being considered.

Perhaps one day hemp fabrics will be back in the mainstream again, along with hemp farming.