Climate crisis is the defining issue of our time. 2020 has been an extreme year with the COVID 19 pandemic, however, the loss of life and economic devastation caused by the pandemic is far less as compared to the consequences of the climate crisis. Greenhouse Gas emissions (GHGs) have been steadily increasing over the years leading to melting glaciers, rising temperatures and heatwaves, cyclones and hurricanes, wildfires, droughts and erratic rainfall which results in loss of lives and livelihoods. Thus it becomes imperative to change existing practices and lead a conscious sustainable lifestyle.
Hemp which is in the same species as marijuana is helping in the fight against the climate crisis with its sustainable properties. Almost every part of hemp can be used to make something sustainable which is why the industry is booming.
Here are 7 ways hemp can help fight the climate crisis and reduce carbon emissions:
Agriculture is the second-largest emitter of GHGs after the energy sector. The major emitters of GHGs are livestock and crop cultivation. Soil loses carbon as it is cultivated and more land is brought under cultivation. In addition to that, using fertilisers is also energy-intensive.
Cultivating hemp significantly uses carbon emissions. It takes up less space to grow so less land will be cultivated. It has a high yielding rate and does not require fertilisers to grow. It also has the added benefit of improving the soil health and sequestering carbon.
2. Provide Bio-fuel
Shifting to clean energy remains a priority to reduce carbon emissions. The continued use of fossil fuels for transportation Bio-fuel made by hemp is one such alternative as it can easily be used to power our vehicles. If the production of hemp for biofuel is ramped up it can replace fossil fuels for vehicles thereby reducing carbon emissions.
3. Replace Paper
Trees and forests are a major weapon against the climate crisis and it is essential to protect and conserve them. Trees are often cut to make paper and when they are cut they stop sequestering carbon from the atmosphere. Using hemp pulp to make paper instead of wood pulp will allow trees to sequester carbon and fight against the climate crisis. Hemp pulp can be used to make light, durable and recyclable paper. Few chemicals will be used to colour hemp as it has a low lignin content and has a natural light colour.
5. Biodegradable Alternative to Plastic
The first plastic ever produced still exists today. That thought is scary as every year 12.7 million tonnes of plastic ends up in our oceans choking and killing marine animals and birds. Most of the plastic is never recycled and instead breaks down into microplastics. This microplastic has now entered our water and food systems. It has now become absolutely essential to avoid plastic and use sustainable products.
Hemp can be used to replaced plastic-based products as it is biodegradable and non-toxic. Using Hemp to make plastics is sustainable as its production does not damage the soil. Hemp is also stronger and lighter thus providing added benefits.
6. Green Material for Construction
The second most used material on earth after water is concrete. Using concrete for construction purposes is responsible for 7% of global carbon emissions. Concrete also requires a lot of industrial water resulting in water shortage in water-stressed regions. Even though concrete is a symbol of modernity and stability it has adverse impacts on the environment and people.
Using hemp as a construction material is a much better alternative than concrete as hempcrete sequestrate carbon from the atmosphere over the years as it hardens and matures. Hempcrete is actually stronger than concrete and fire-resistant. Hempcrete also makes the buildings and homes healthy as it has antimicrobial and anti-fungal properties. It is also an excellent heat and noise insulator.
6. Sustainable Fashion
It is estimated that almost half of the textiles produced are made of cotton. Cotton as a crop is the most profitable non-food crop. However, cotton production is unsustainable. To produce one kg of cotton, 10,000 litres of water is required. Cotton cultivation also results in degradation of soil and it requires multiple chemical pesticides and fertilisers which adversely affect the biodiversity of the field as well as water and soil quality.
Hemp fibres have been used for over a thousand years for various purposes and making cloth from it isn’t new. Hemp fibres are extremely durable, light and as mentioned above have anti-fungal and anti-microbial properties. As compared to cotton, hemp is more sustainable to cultivate and lasts longer.
Meat is a source of protein for many people and communities. However, the meat industry has devastating environmental impacts which is why environmentalists suggest shifting to a plant-based diet to reduce emissions. Meat and dairy are some of the highest carbon emitters with beef leading followed by lamb, farmed shrimp and cheese. Several reports have suggested that a plant-based diet has lower carbon emissions than that of meat. Shifting to plant-based alternatives is necessary to reduce emissions and this is where hemp comes in.
Hemp is a source of healthy fats and is used to make a variety of products. Hemp seeds are extremely beneficial as they are high in omega 3 fatty acids and complete protein. Hemp is used to make hemp milk, hemp cheese, hemp-based protein powder among other products.
The fight against the climate crisis involves living a sustainable lifestyle and hemp due to its multiple product variations and properties is aiding in this fight. Hemp is truly a wonderful material with immense potential as it has the ability to replace existing harmful products with a sustainable alternative.
Shared by Mehak Bhargava