Hemp clothing made from hemp fabric is manufactured by the plant fiber of same name as per its botanical definition, Hemp is a cannabis plant and sometime people confuse Hemp with its close relative “Cannabis (THC)”, which is also a Cannabis plant commonly known as Marijuana.. However, marijuana is widely used as a recreational drug and medicine but not as a source of hemp clothes. The legality of Hemp Cannabis varies from country to country, and from state to state in the United States. In many developed countries such as Australia, Canada, China and a host of EU countries, Hemp is harvested as a profitable crop and exported in many of its variants including fabrics to USA and other countries around the world. Hemp by nature grows very fast in any kind of climate without requiring pesticides, herbicides and using fairly small amount of irrigation water. Unlike some major crops, hemp doesn’t exhaust soil and matures often without the use of chemical fertilizers. Interestingly, hemp grows in dense foliage spread over large tracts of land and doesn’t allow much sunlight to filter through and as such kills the weed as a natural deterrent process. Hemp plants can grow taller than six feet and its skin is tough enough to withstand insect damage to the crop. Hemp’s insect deterrent property lends itself to hemp fabric’s antimicrobial property in apparel and other garment products. By a 1998 study by National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), hemp is considered to be environmentally friendly due to a decrease of land use and other environmental impacts, indicating a possible decrease of ecological footprint in a US context compared to typical benchmarks.
Hemp is used for a variety of products including the manufacture of cordage of varying tensile strength, industrial ropes, sail canvas cloth, durable work clothing, fashion apparel and nutritional products. Hemp fibers can be used in 100% hemp products, but are commonly blended with other organic fibers such as flax, organic cotton or silk, for apparel and furnishings. At Ecofabrik we offer hemp t shirts in blended fabric with most commonly at a 55%/45% hemp/cotton blend. The inner two fibers of hemp are woodier and are more often used in non-woven items and other industrial applications, such as mulch, animal bedding and litter. The oil from hemp seeds oxidizes easily to become solid on exposure to air. It is used or can be used in the manufacture of oil-based paints, in creams as a moisturizing agent as well as for cooking purpose. Hemp is used in manufacturing of textile, paper, plastics, wood, bio-fuel and even building blocks. In Europe, hemp seeds are widely used as feed for birds and in animal feed products. No wonder it’s considered by many as the most versatile and sustainable plant on earth. Both industrial hemp and flax plants are regarded as “golden fibers”, not just because of their natural color, but for their diversified properties and wide range usage. Hemp with its high moisture absorbency, high heat conductivity, and excellent abrasion resistance, lends itself to be made into beautiful, comfortable and long lasting clothes. The more you wash them, the softer they get. They age gracefully. Blended with other natural fibers, their applications become almost endless.
A question many people ask is that why Hemp farming is still illegal in the USA while we continue to spend millions of dollars on importing hemp products from other countries. Well, the reason might surprise you or even shock you as to how it is so difficult to amend the old rules. “The Marijuana Tax Act” of 1937 is the beginning of constriction for the growth of marijuana (Cannabis THC) in the United States and hemp (that is also Cannabis family) is impacted as a result. It is ironic that while Hemp fiber can produce superior quality paper and the yield of hemp manufactured paper is supposedly 2 to 3 times more than the paper manufactured from wood pulp, we continue to cut down forests to feed the paper mills. Similarly, hemp harvesting has a better yield than cotton, consumes less irrigation water than cotton and requires no pesticieds to harvest, yet it is still illegal to harvest Hemp in the USA. What's even more ironic is that some states have legalized harvesting Cannibis (Marijuana) but Hemp is still illegal to grow there.
Ever since the enactment of this law, US farmers and many politicians have been trying to repeal this law in efforts to allow American farmers to compete with other countries in the “hemp field” market. The Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2009 is a bill that was introduced in the United States House of Representatives in April of 2009. This bill clarifies the differences between marijuana and industrial hemp as well as repeals federal laws that prohibit American farmers from cultivating industrial hemp. However, this seems to be an uphill battle due to the opposition by many governmental agencies. National Drug Control Policies oppose this act because they feel that hemp plants could easily be mixed with marijuana plants and it would be very difficult to detect the difference between the two. Now that State of Colorado has legalized the Cannabis THC cultivation, it seems highly likely that sometime in the very near future hemp cultivation laws will be amended thus allowing American farmers to grow the golden crop and grow our exports. We at Eco-Fabrik can hardly wait to see the day when American textile mills will start producing fine quality hemp at prices that consumers can benefit from.