Hemp paper is made from hemp plant’s long or the short bast fiber (hurd or pulp). Fiber paper is thin, tough, brittle, and rough. Pulp paper is not as sturdy, but is easier to make, softer, denser, and desirable for most everyday purposes. The chemical composition of hemp hurds is similar to that of wood, making hemp a good choice as a raw material for manufacturing paper. The very first paper in the world was partly made from hemp, and as a plant, hemp is more suitable for paper as it has a higher cellulose and lower lignin content. Hemp paper is also much more eco-friendly and sustainable than tree paper, as hemp can be produced much quicker than trees.
The turning point and biggest crisis for hemp came in the 1930s, when big synthetic textile companies and newspapers used lobbying powers to prohibit the cultivation of hemp in the United States. This was quite ironic, as the laws were enacted only a few months after Popular Mechanics had deemed hemp to be on the verge of becoming a “billion dollar crop”. Hemp or hemp paper never fully recovered from this prohibition, and is mainly used in specialty paper currently. Hemp paper is one of the most sustainable options when it comes to choosing green and sustainable products in our day to day lives.
Why is deforestation a major concern?
Deforestation has become one of the burning issues like global warming as it is causing major damage to our planet. With the rise of population, the demand for commodities also seem to rise. While trying to meet those demands the paper industry has to cut down thousands of tress. The biggest impact of deforestation is the loss of habitat for millions of species. 70–80% of Earth’s land animals and plants live in forests. More and more species are going extinct every year because they lose their homes and sincethey become more exposed to hunters and poachers. According to the Center for Biological Diversity, scientists estimate we’re now losing species at 1,000 to 10,000 times the original rate, with literally dozens going extinct every day. At this rate, they are predicting that 30–50% of all species could possibly be facing extinction by mid-century. As our forests disappear, climate change will only accelerate. Forests are vital to conserving the soil and maintaining our air by removing carbon dioxide and returning oxygen. The forests also keep the soil moist and help maintain the natural water cycle by returning water vapor back into the atmosphere. Without trees and the canopy they create, our lands are quickly turning into dry desserts. Trees also help to absorb the greenhouse gases that fuel global warming. Fewer forests means larger amounts of greenhouse gases entering the atmosphere — increasing the speed of global warming.
Benefits of Hemp Paper
Hemp vs. Trees — how can hemp help in solving the deforestation problem at the current scenario?
- 1 acre of Hemp can produce as much paper as 4–10 acres of trees over a 20 year cycle.
- Hemp stalks grow in 4 months, whereas trees take 20–80 years.
- Hemp has higher concentration of cellulose than wood, the principal ingredient in paper.
- Trees are made up of only 30% cellulose, requiring the use of toxic chemicals to remove the other 70%. Hemp, on the other hand, can have up to 85% cellulose content.
- Hemp has lower lignin content than wood. Hemp contains 5–24% lignin whereas wood has 20–35%. This is advantageous as lignin must be removed from the pulp before it can be processed as paper.
- Hemp paper is more durable than trees. Hemp paper does not yellow, crack, or deteriorate like tree paper.
Wider use of hemp paper can help sustainability efforts to reduce deforestation
Paper waste and deforestation are a severe problem, and hemp can be the solution. However, it will take years to develop the infrastructure for an alternative hemp paper industry that can really make a dent in the conventional paper industry. But the process has begun and lot of people are working on the same. It is also the responsibility of every individual to make the shift to contribute to the environment. It is our planet, what steps we take would be beneficial or harmful to our own home; our green planet. By using hemp paper you are saying, “It’s time to make a change.” Bio-safe products need to become an everyday thing, not a trend. The earth is our life support system, and the only one we have. Let’s fix what has already been done. Let’s make the shift. Let’s go green. Let’s choose Hemp paper