There’s been a lot of talk recently about the health benefits of hemp related products, but what else can hemp do? You may be surprised to learn, that hemp is one of the most versatile plants on Earth, and it’s used for countless purposes, including more than a few that you probably never thought about.
In the US, hemp was just reintroduced as a legal crop not too long ago. Since then, the amount of uses for hemp has exploded. It wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to think that, in the coming years, the new and innovative uses for this remarkable plant will continue to grow.
Hemp makes fantastic cloth. It’s durable, strong, and breathable. In theory, hemp clothes will last a long time, and they’ll keep their shape better than cotton. Hemp is also more sustainable to farm than cotton, using significantly less water and not demanding the same heavy pesticide use.
You can find everything from hemp t-shirts to jeans, hoodies, jackets, and just about anything else you can think of. Actually, long before cotton became the main fabric for clothes, hemp was widely used for linen fabrics.
Hemp clothes are similar to cotton, and many are a blend of hemp and organic cotton. Just like cotton, they’re not rough, scratchy, or stiff. Hemp clothing is both functional and sustainable in a very simple way.
You’ll see more of this later, but hemp fibers can be compacted to form something similar to plastic, but both sustainable and biodegradable. Since most sunglasses are, unfortunately, made from plastic, the jump to hemp was a natural one.
Hemp sunglasses have a unique and natural look that’s both stylish and somewhat timeless. As of right now, there’s only one major manufacturer making hemp sunglasses, Hemp Eyewear out of Scotland. They pioneered the design and production of hemp glasses, and they’ve been growing since. I wouldn’t be surprise to see more companies following in their footsteps soon.
3. Shoes, Hats, and Accessories
Anyone who’s worn a pair of Chuck Taylors knows that canvas shoes can be both comfortable and durable. Since canvas was originally made from hemp, it makes perfect sense for shoes. Unsurprisingly, hemp shoes are gaining in popularity, with more styles arriving each year. Like other shoes made from lighter weight materials, hemp shoes tend to be a better fit for warm weather, but as someone who’s worn those classic Converse through multiple North East winters, the prospect of wearing hemp isn’t much of a stretch.
Like with other areas on this list, hemp is both durable and sustainable, which is more than can be said for a lot of status quo options in the shoe industry. Hemp also makes an excellent option for vegan shoes, which any vegan will tell you, aren’t all that easy to come by. Widespread hemp options would be a welcome change.
Hemp is also a fantastic options for hats and other accessories. Hats are an obvious choice for both men’s and women’s styles. Hemp can be used in a similar way to cotton to make styles like baseball caps. At the same time, it can be spun into wider rope-like fibers for larger floppy types of hats(I clearly know a lot about women’s hat styles). Hemp beanies have been a stable for decades, and that doesn’t seem to be changing any time soon either.
Hemp is also a popular material for other accessories too, like belts and wallets. You won’t have a hard time finding well made hemp belts and wallets that will last years, if not longer. When it comes to accessories, hemp is usually one of the top vegan options too.
Hemp seeds are another part of this miraculous plant that has a wide range of uses. As plant milks became more popular, people started to look for new sources, free from soy and/or tree nuts to help those with allergies and decrease the production footprint. Hemp milk is one of the results of that search.
No, you won’t get high from your morning coffee, but hemp milk is as rich and creamy as you’d expect milk to be, and it has natural nutritional benefits, like omega-3s. Hemp milk isn’t all that widely available just yet, but if you looked, you shouldn’t have much trouble finding it. Hemp is certainly more sustainable than the likes of almonds, and it has the added benefit of avoiding some common allergies. Plus, if you’re looking for a vegan source of omega-3, look no further.
5. The Cereal and Other Food Too
If your milk can be made from hemp, so can your breakfast cereal. Hemp seeds can be ground into flour. So, just about anything that you’d make from regular wheat flour, you can make from hemp flour. Hemp flour is going to be grainier and more akin to a whole wheat or whole grain variety. Like those other types of flour, hemp has additional health benefits, like more protein and omega-3, that you won’t find in all purpose, uber processed flour.
Flour isn’t the only way to make hemp based food. The seeds themselves are at the heart of plenty of recipes and products you can find on the shelf in the supermarket. Hemp seed oil is a popular ingredient in hemp infused cooking. You can also find hemp seed protein bars and protein powder. Then, you can always just eat the seeds.
Other companies are using hemp to make other popular foods, like veggie burgers and veggie hot dogs. You can buy hemp tea made from hemp seeds and hemp leaves. Hemp infused coffee is gaining in popularity too. You can even find beer made from hemp. Don’t be surprised to see hemp pop up more and more in your local supermarket in coming years.
6. Bed Sheets and Blankets
If hemp fabric works for clothes, why not sheets and other cloth goods? Hemp bed sheets and blankets are even more proof that hemp can do everything cotton can. Just like their cotton counterparts, hemp sheets can be either warm, thick, and cozy, or they can be lightweight and breathable.
Like with clothing, the main benefits here come from hemp’s durability and its sustainability as a crop. Even though there isn’t too much concrete data on it just yet, it’s looking like farming hemp is more sustainable than farming cotton, making it a better crop for the future.
Here’s where things start to get strange. Imagine a car made from hemp. Even though it might seem like a gag out of a Cheech and Chong movie, it’s actually a very practical reality. For decades, lightweight sports cars, like Corvettes, have been made out of fiberglass. Fiberglass is made up of long glass fibers molded in resin. Now, replace glass fibers with hemp, and you’ve got a lightweight car made much more sustainably than nearly anything on the road.
If you think that hemp cars are a radical new idea that won’t ever take hold, think again. Henry Ford actually designed and built hemp cars as far back as 1941. Ford was looking to help struggling farmers, but his idea was actually a sustainable one.
Sure, you can’t pull into your local car dealership and ask for a hemp car, but the innovators at Renew Sports Cars are actively making and selling hemp cars. In this instance, the idea is more powerful than the actual thing. You’re probably not going to order a car from Renew(Or maybe you will. I don’t know), but if more mainstream manufacturers take notice, we could see a hemp Corvette in the near future.
On top of the car’s construction, both Ford and Renew(Who were inspired by Ford), powered their hemp vehicles with, you guessed it, hemp. Yes, hemp can actually be used to create biofuel too. The end result of a car made from hemp and running on hemp actually has a lower carbon footprint than the latest electric vehicles. How’s that for possibility?
8. Soap, Shampoo, Lotions, and Sunscreen
As you remember from before, hemp seeds are packed with oils and vitamins that make them wonderful, nutritionally. Those same oils and vitamins also make hemp an excellent candidate for personal care products.
The omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids along with the other amino acids found in hemp oils are great for skin care. They’re proven to hydrate skin, making it healthier and smoother. They also help fight several common skin conditions.
These same properties make hemp a top pick for natural soap, shampoo, skin lotions, sunscreens, lip balms, and just about anything else that you’d typically use in your daily skin and hair care.
This one should be a no-brainer. Hemp is a pulpy fibrous material. It doesn’t take much of a stretch to imagine its use in paper products. Plus, there’s plenty of history to back it up. Hemp has been used to make paper for hundreds of years. In fact, many classic novels were originally published on hemp paper.
Hemp grows faster than trees do, and it requires far less land to farm. While there may not be much of a practical difference in actually using the paper, from a sustainability standpoint, hemp stands head and shoulders above tree paper.
10. Your House
Okay, your house probably isn’t made out of hemp just yet, but it sure can be. Hempcrete is an industrial building material that can be used for a range of applications in building a home.
Like concrete, hempcrete is an amalgamation of grainy soils and sands. Only, instead of stones keeping the whole thing together, it’s hemp fiber. Hempcrete isn’t quite as solid as traditional concrete, making it less than ideal for foundation and structural building, but it makes up for it in its light weight and versatility.
Hempcrete is an excellent insulation material that can be placed in walls, floors, and even ceilings. Because of its thermal properties, hempcrete can potentially boost a building’s energy efficiency to levels nearly impossible to achieve with traditional building materials. Unlike other insulation, like fiberglass, hempcrete is sustainable and biodegradable, making it a much more eco-friendly choice.
Hempcrete is ideally suited for more inventive architecture and more specialized situations, like tiny homes. It can easily play an important role in continued efforts to make architecture more energy efficient.