Our dependence on plastics is not going away, but there’s a more sustainable process in producing this essential product.
Hemp is more renewable and less costly for manufacturers to produce while also being easier on the environment. It can literally replace plastic in every way, yet it seems companies that would benefit from using it have not caught up with the evidence.
“Thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp was removed from the federal list of illicit substances and can once again be legally grown, harvested, and used for medicines and other goods after almost a century of prohibition. Prior to the Marihuana Stamp Act of 1937 the cannabis plant was very frequently used to produce common household materials and was widely prescribed by doctors for various ailments.
Our Founding Fathers grew it, and hemp was once a crop every farmer had to grow as mandated by the government. The first American flag was sewn together using hemp fabric and our constitution was written on it. If history really does repeat itself, we are long overdue.
The benefits of switching to hemp based plastics are endless when you consider both the direct and indirect ways this one change would have, and not just the cannabis market. The plastics we have been using for years now have been linked to several negative health effects, including infertility and certain cancers. From a health standpoint, hemp plastics are safe for consumers than traditional plastics because they are non-toxic. “
How Plastic Is Destroying Our Planet
Plastic pollution has become one of the most pressing environmental issues, as rapidly increasing production of disposable plastic products overwhelms the world’s ability to deal with them.
Despite efforts to find ways to properly recycle this material, much of it ends up in landfills and our oceans — causing even more plastic to be produced.
The convenience of plastic products has caused society to have a disposable mindset when it comes to these items. With the production of this material, and the disposal of it, often being out of sight and out of mind, most people don’t really have a second thought about properly disposing of, or finding alternatives to plastic bags, packaging, electronics and more.
According to The United States Environmental Protection Agency, “Habitat alteration is caused by trash and debris in rivers and oceanic convergence (accumulation) zones, on beaches, and submerged benthic (at and near the bottom of rivers and oceans) habitats. As debris accumulates, habitat structure may be modified, light levels may be reduced in underlying waters, and oxygen levels may be depleted. These changes can undermine the ability of open water and benthic habitats to support aquatic life.”
How Plastic Is Destroying Our Health
Natural habitats of wildlife aren’t the only victim of this waste, the wildlife themselves are affected by this dilemma not only in loss of habitat, but in the accidental ingestion of plastic. Where does all that bioaccumulation of toxins from plastic end up? On your plate.
A study in 2020 of microplastics in five different types of seafood found plastic in every sample the researchers tested, suggesting that microplastics do find their way into our food products.
Some potential effects of consuming plastic-contaminated seafood include oxidative stress, neurotoxic effects, endocrine disruption, thyroid damage and cancer.
These same effects can manifest in other types of consumer use through products like clothing, furniture, toys, vehicles and more by inhalation and skin contact. At almost every turn, you are exposed to the threat of plastic harming your health.
How Hemp Is the Answer
This miracle plant isn’t just for hemp wraps and a good cannagar. Identical products can be made with hemp-based plastics versus the traditional petroleum-based plastics. The main difference is that hemp-based plastics made with biodegradable polymers can decompose in only three to five months. On the other hand, conventional plastic products can take up to 1000 years or more to fully break down.
Farming hemp is extremely sustainable and doesn’t have the devastating impact on our planet that acquiring fossil fuels does. Not only does hemp offer sustainable sourcing and production, and less impact through its life cycle, it eliminates the need for massive recycling plants and the transportation it takes to get the discarded materials there — lessening the footprint on our environment even more.
“Plus there’s an opportunity to create social equity when growers partner with indigenous communities to supply raw material in Fair Trade agreements. Consider how cannabis giant One World Pharma partners with the Popayan people of Colombia. OWP provides the seeds to the indigenous community who work the fields and later sell back raw hemp material to OWP exclusively, which helps the people of that region strengthen and maintain a healthy economic infrastructure.”
So what’s next?
Like all good things, there will be some waiting involved. We simply don’t have the infrastructure to support a hemp-based industry since the plant has only recently been removed from the federal list of illicit substances.
And of course, in a capitalist economy, there has to be money involved. Advocates for a switch to more sustainable textiles like hemp are up against major corporations, lobbyists and politicians.
We may not see a switch to hemp-based plastics any time soon, but with the impending and continued destruction of the environment, eventually we won’t have any other choice.