Jaclyn Kennison is a freelance writer living and playing in the Black Hills of South Dakota. She owns and manages an art gallery and event venue between fits of shopping and redecorating.
Food. Plastic. Paper. Wood. Body Care. Concrete. Fuel. Fabric.
All of these things can be produced by the materials from a single plant: Hemp. While the plant is related to marijuana, it is related in the same way a Great Dane is related to a Chihuahua. Similarities? Yes. Differences? Absolutely. There is no THC in hemp, but because of its cousin’s bad repuation, the plant has struggled to be seen for its true value.
Hemp seed is one of nature’s perfect foods with the ideal 1:3 ratio of naturally occurring omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids. It is high in protein and minerals and has a mild nutty flavor. Hemp plastics are particularly strong and unlike their petroleum-based counterparts, hemp will biodegrade. Hemp paper is exceptionally strong and hemp wood is strong yet flexible, making it a great material for building. Hemp oil is used in body care products because it is so rich and chock full of vitamin E. Hempcrete, a composite of hemp material and lime, is a great building material. It is naturally resistant to pests, mold and fire, and hempcrete is just flexible enough for earthquake prone areas. Hemp fiber is one of the longest, strongest and most absorbent natural fibers on earth. It can be grown without pesticides or chemicals and uses far less resources than its competition, cotton.
When it comes to sustainability, reused is almost always better, but if you are going to go for new clothes, go for hemp. It is easier on the planet, and the best news of all… hemp is stylish!
Sweet Skins' hemp wrap comes in black and natural coloring and costs $60. Photo Courtesy Sweet Skins.
Years ago hemp clothing conjured up images of gunny sack-style tunics, shapeless and baggy. Hemp has come a long way, baby. You may be surprised by the options now available with a significant hemp content. Clothing staples like jeans and sweaters are everywhere—made with hemp fiber, and in very fashion forward designs. Hemp shirts, pants, skirts, sweaters, hats, scarves and even shoes are filling sustainably oriented retailers’ shelves. The designs are unique, wearable and durable making them top sellers in many areas, especially among those with a strong eco consciousness.
The wrap sweater pictured above from Sweet Skins is warm, soft and gives you such a cozy feeling when you wrap it around yourself. Hemp socks are super warm, and because the material is naturally antimicrobial, your feet won’t stink. At least not as much. Hemp accessories like hats and belts hold up to years of use. Dresses and pants are warm yet breathable, making them very versatile. A hemp skirt worn with tights and boots will keep you warm all winter. Donned in the summer, it will keep you cool and comfortable. There are a number of exceptional companies offering hemp clothing design, and I am listing my favorites below.
Try working some hemp food into your diet. Give hemp oil body products a try for super soft and supple skin. And the next time you are shopping for great fashion with a green spin, think hemp. I bet you’ll be surprised.