There is a wide range of benefits to hemp clothing for sustainability and the
environment that also directly and indirectly impact your health in general. An
example is the simple fact that hemp clothing is completely sustainable and
biodegradable and doesn’t release microplastics into the oceans that make their
way back to you.
According to the MIT newspaper The Thistle, hemp is most likely the earliest crop to be cultivated for making textiles going back at least 10,000 years to ancient
Mesopotamia. Over those 10,000 years, hemp clothing was front and centre on the world stage and was most likely the most important crop in the world until it wasbanned in the 20th century in the UK, USA, and many other places around the world.
What is Hemp and Hemp Clothing?
Hemp is a plant belonging to the cannabis family and although it is related to the cannabis sativa plant that is commonly referred to as “weed”, hemp actually
contains negligible amounts of the psychoactive compound THC. Because of its similarities with THC-containing cannabis plants, in the past hemp has been
confused as being a “drug” plant and was virtually banned in the UK with the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act. It is technically legal to grow now, however farmers first need to apply for a special permit that allows them to grow the “controlled” substance.
Back in the 15th century however, King Henry the VII mandated that every British farmer devote a portion of their land to the production of hemp, showing how valuable this crop was in British life hundreds of years ago.
Hemp is essentially the industrially viable variety of the cannabis sativa family, and it is from the processed stalks of this plant that we can make hemp clothing and many, many other products. The yarn that is made from hemp is so strong and durable in fact that it was primarily used in the sailing industry for making rigging and sails for ships.
Hemp fibres can be used to make all types of clothing including shirts, dresses,
jackets, pants, and more. And while hemp fabric is famous for being soft on the
skin, as the clothing items age, the fabric becomes softer and softer. Thanks to new movements and law changes around the world, the hemp industry is making a comeback with both men’s and women’s hemp clothing.
4 Reasons Why Should You Wear Hemp Clothing
Hemp plants are an extremely sustainable textile option. Because these plants are naturally resistant to infections and pests, growing them does not require the use of toxic pesticides and they require half as much water as it takes to grow cotton.
Their deep roots help to prevent soil erosion, protecting the topsoil, and they also return nutrients to the soil to improve soil quality, avoiding the use of heavy
fertilisers that often leech into waterways. Every aspect of hemp’s growing cycle is sustainable and produces biodegradable products, and hemp even produces more fibre per square acre compared to trees while absorbing more carbon dioxide too.
Hemp clothing can provide you with many benefits that are often not offered by other textile types, both natural and synthetic. Like with the rope and sail example, the durability of hemp fibres means that men’s, women’s, and children’s clothing made from hemp won’t stretch or warp since the fabric is 4 times stronger than cotton.
3. Antimicrobial and Breathable Fabric
Hemp is also naturally antimicrobial, meaning it is resistant to bacterial and fungal growth that can damage and stain clothing and also worsen the infamous smell of body odour. Part of what makes hemp clothing antimicrobial is the fact that this fabric is breathable and does not hold moisture, thus avoiding the growth of microorganisms. The breathability of hemp fabric is great for hot summers, while in the winter the fabric acts as a great insulator to keep you warm.
4. It’s Fully Recyclable and Biodegradable
Like other natural fibres, hemp is 100% biodegradable and recyclable, so after you get your many years of use out of your hemp clothes, you can easily recycle the material or even compost it. This allows you to do your part in protecting the environment since there will be no microplastics going into the environment and into our food chain, and no clothing waste clogging up landfills or ecosystems never to break down. Hemp clothing means leaving a zero-waste footprint.
While the laws in the UK still have some catching up to do regarding embracing the cultivation of hemp as a textile and making it more accessible for farmers, we can all do our part by supporting the hemp clothing industries around the world. Hemp clothing is more than just protecting the environment from synthetic fibres, microplastics, and damaging farming practices, it also gives you much more durable natural fibres that are resistant to UV damage and microbes all while reducing our collective ecological footprint. Hemp clothing has been around for thousands of years and for good reason, so it is time that we bring it back.