Compared with some alternatives, hemp soaks up carbon and merely sips water
Cannabis is often advertised as a panacea. Advocates clamor about its worth in the fight against countless health issues — some of which are backed by science, and some of which aren’t. It’s not just as medicine that cannabis is advertised as being a cure-all, though. Hemp, the version of cannabis that won’t get you high, is being touted as a potential wonder crop.
There’s some legitimate research behind the push to bring hemp into the forefront, though. It’s no perfect crop, but there’s starting to be good reason, and research, behind the argument that hemp might help save the planet. On Earth Day, perhaps there’s no better plant to look to than this. Here are two ways cannabis can help you limit your negative footprint on our environment.
Fashion and sustainability don’t often go hand in hand. Polyester, made from fossil fuel, and cotton, a water-intensive crop, are two of the biggest textiles on the market, and neither is particularly good for the planet. Hemp is, however, and in ways that helps offset the biggest negatives of those other textiles.
As it is made of petroleum, polyester production contributes to global greenhouse gas emissions. Hemp, on the other hand, can help pull those greenhouse gases, specifically carbon dioxide, out of the air. According to the European Industrial Hemp Association, one hectare of cropland dedicated to hemp can sequester up to 15 tons of carbon dioxide. As for water usage, hemp production requires roughly half as much water as cotton to produce an equivalent amount of material, according to a study by the Stockholm Environment Institute.
Concerns over nutrition and sustainability have helped alternative milks like almond and soy elbow their way into grocery stores and coffee shops around the country in recent years. Hemp milk has exploded since the federal government legalized the crop in 2018. Like all alternative milks, there are pros and cons when comparing it to traditional cow’s milk. One clear pro in hemp’s favor is, once again, water consumption.
The Almond Board of California claims that the Golden State produces nearly 80 percent of the world’s almonds. But doing so requires 3.2 gallons of water to grow just a single almond, according to a 2019 study from the journal Ecological Indicators. Like cotton, almonds are a thirsty plant. Hemp requires far less water and can easily be grown without the need for irrigation.