Hemp pros and cons

Hemp pros and cons

{ Researching hemp pros and cons at my favourite café }

I have had an eye on hemp for a while now. I still don’t have anything in my closet made from hemp, but as summer is approaching (hopefully soon) and I’m looking to add some loose fitted pants and flowy summer dresses to my wardrobe I’m finding that I’m increasingly looking for something made from hemp, so I thought I’d share the hemp pros and cons with you.

Hemp has been an important fibre for many countries for many, many years and finally we’re opening our eyes to its potential again here in the West. I think there’s been s move away from hemp in the sustainable fashion area as it can have a hippie look about it and I think we all know how eco fashion brands and supporters have worked to move away from the idea that sustainable fashion is all made from hemp and linen. However, there are so many pros about the fibre that I think we also need to redefine how hemp garments can be used and styled.

The pros

Naturally, we are only talking about the industrial non-drug related hemp when we talk about the kind used to make clothes. It is an efficient crop with multiple uses, the most valuable part is the one used to make textiles. But, it can also be used to create biodegradable plastics and biofuels. Additionally, it is also used in health-food (hello hemp-seeds on my breakfast acai bowl and hemp protein in my plant based smoothie) as it has significant nutritional value – second only to soy and is highly digestible.

In terms of textile production hemp is ecologically and sustainably important. It is even often referred to as the world’s most useful plant. It is non-toxic in use, renewable and non-polluting during its life cycle. It hardly needs any pesticides and very little water to grow (unlike conventional cotton) it grows quickly, and leaves the soil is in better condition because it has been replenished with nutrients and nitrogen.

Hemp as a textile has good thermal values, it is strong and durable (even after several washes), have good absorbency and offers protection against UV light, which makes it pretty perfect for summer clothes in particular.

Colours may range from creamy white, shades of brown and grey as well as green and black. And can be made into fabrics as diverse as fine lace to heavyweight industrial canvas.

The con(s)

As it is not easy to spin hemp on its own it is often mixed with cotton and I’m not sure how this affects its recyclability. As they are both natural material the finished material might still be biodegradable.

 

With only one, very small con hemp seems to be the perfect material (Tencel® is still my favourite material though). I have my eyes on these pants and this dress, but as summer is not drastically approaching (it’s been so cold in London the past couple of weeks) I’ll keep my eyes out for other options before I decide what can come live in my wardrobe.

What are you looking for to update your summer wardrobe?

 

Resources: Fabric for Fashion: The Complete Guide by Amanda Johnston and Clive Hallett.

 

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Hella Lynggaard

2 Comments

  1. Hemp spun with cotton is still biodegradable, and is very often spun with organic cotton. Hemp is one of my favourite sustainable textiles, only second to linen in my books. You might enjoy my Guide to Sustainable Textiles, which goes through all the pros and cons in an accessible way for consumers and designers alike.
    https://gumroad.com/l/LqMWL

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