Hemp paper is an excellent alternative to conventional paper which is made from wood. Unlike the world’s rapidly diminishing population of trees, hemp possesses the potential to provide a better renewable source for the paper requirement of the world. If you probe into history, the very first paper in the world was partly made of hemp, and hemp as a plant is more convenient for paper making as it has a higher cellulose and lower lignin content. Hemp paper is even more environmentally friendly and sustainable than paper made from trees since hemp can be produced at a faster rate than trees.
However, we can’t really bring about this replacement overnight given the massive demand for paper. There’s not enough sources (of hemp plant) currently available to substitute for the use of trees in paper making worldwide. Partly due to the suppression of hemp cultivation and the myths that surround it, the technology required for the production of hemp paper for various uses such as desk top printer paper is still being developed. However, there are some great companies who are currently making use of hemp paper and are also utilizing it in a number of ways including the humble business card right through to product packaging as a replacement for cardboard and plastics.
Why Hemp Paper Is Better?
Hemp paper is made from the hemp plant’s long bast fiber or the short bast fiber (hurd or pulp). Generally, the texture of the fibre paper is thin, tough, rough and brittle. Paper from the pulp is not as strong as paper made from the long bast fibres, but is easy to make, softer and preferable for daily purposes. The composition of hemp hurds is similar to wood, making hemp a better choice as a raw material for manufacturing paper. Hemp pulp is considered much better than wood pulp, and therefore it has a quality higher than that of wood. Hemp was widely used all around the world during the 1800s, but faced a drawback in the early 1900s as hemp production and trading ground to a halt.
Benefits of Hemp Paper
- One acre of Hemp can produce as much paper as 4-10 acres of trees over a period of 20 years.
- Hemp stalks grow in 4 months, while trees take from 20 – 80 years depending on species.
- Hemp possess a higher concentration of cellulose than wood, the major ingredient in paper.
- Trees are made up of only 30% cellulose, which is why they require 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 while wood has 20-35%. This is a huge plus as lignin must be removed from the pulp before it can be made into paper.
- Hemp paper is more durable than trees. Hemp paper does not become yellow, crack, or deteriorate like tree paper.
- Usage of hemp paper widely can help sustain the eco-system by reducing deforestation.
Changing to Hemp Papers can help reduce deforestation
You don’t need to be Greta Thunberg to know that deforestation is a real issue and needs to be addressed:
- Loss of Mature forests
According to the National Geographic, we are bringing down forests the size of Panama each and every year. Already in North America, there is a 97% loss of the mature forest that existed since the European settlers came in the 17th century. The world’s rain forests could totally be extinct in a hundred years at the current rate of deforestation.
- Extinction of Species
The biggest consequence of deforestation is the loss of habitat for millions of species on the planet. 70-80% of Earth’s land animals and plants live in forests. Large amount of species are going extinct every year because they lose their homes and, falling prey to hunters and poachers.
- Climate Change
With the vanishing of forests, climate change will only accelerate. Forests are crucial to conserving the soil and balancing our air circulation by removing carbon dioxide and returning oxygen. The forests also keep the soil moist and help preserving the natural water cycle by returning water vapor back into the atmosphere. With the current rate of deforestation, it is only a matter of time before desertification becomes common place with it’s attendant problems i.e. famine, displacement of people, extinction of species of a large scale and the like.
These are only a few reasons we need to stop deforestation, there are at least 7 billion more reasons we need to stop.
Changing mindsets and global thinking is a tall order but if we all do something it will help. Sitting on our hands hoping that someone else will solve the problem is our biggest failure.
So join us in the organic revolution, give hemp paper a chance, give our planet a chance and build a better future for our children.