You might be thinking, how on earth could a drug be made into clothes? It’s actually a great question. But before I simplify it for you, let me clarify a couple of misconceptions.
Firstly, hemp is a type of cannabis plant that does not contain the psychoactive component that its friend marijuana does. In fact it contains so little THC that if you tried to smoke it, you simply would not be able to get high. Hemp also grows tall from long stalks, while marijuana grows bushy and flowery.
That brings us to the first step of the hemp fabrication process. The stalks are cut down and dried in light and air so that the quality fibres can be exposed and pulled out. In some cases the fibres are removed from the inner core of the stalks immediately. Either way, after the fibre is separated, it is stored in bails to be processed into yarn.
In most cases, the fibre is spun into yarn naturally without further processing; in other cases it goes through further processes to add softness or elasticity. For example softness of the fibre can be achieved by soaking the fibre in a solution of boiling soap and bicarbonate soda and then in dilute acetic acid. The lignin, which is the hard scratchy part of the fibre, can also be removed by adding protease, a protein-digesting enzyme, allowing a fungus to grow on the fibres and consume the lignin.
Like most yarn, the hemp fibre is twisted into long threads of string. It can be sealed with wax for a waterproof or durable effect and other fibres can be added to create a blend such as hemp/cotton.
The yarn blends can then be used for clothing, much like what you may be wearing right now. Depending on what the hemp fibre is blended with, depends on the style of clothing made and the comfort that can be achieved.
But why should we use hemp instead of what we have?
Growing and processing hemp fibres has a low environmental effect, even lesser than other natural fibre industries. As we know, the world is faced with many environmental issues. Some people would beg to differ but I believe the issues are evident and that using hemp fibres in the clothing industry is just one of the small initiatives that can make a HUGE difference. We are a consumer world and that won’t go away. But how we satisfy our consumer needs can be changed for the better.
What’s your opinion? Have you heard of hemp clothing and have you tried it? Should you?