Composting

Composting:

Today, we started using our own home composting bin.  We put leaves in the bottom, then food scraps and after we hand mowed, added the grass clippings.  In a few days we will give it a little water.

 

In Boulder, our local trash company provides free curbside food waste compost pick up and free compost soil we can shovel and transport home in the Spring. This convenience kept us from making our own until now!

       

        

 

 

 

Our own compost will be much better quality though because it'll be made from organic food from our garden and specific yard waste only.

In recent years we’ve found bits of plastic mixed in our curbside and store bought compost. It’s new for me to see that – probably since the advent of “compostable” plastic and simply as a result of too much plastic in our environment.

You can't grow a good garden without adding compost to it – plants will be stunted, have yellow leaves and not have enough nutrients to produce. Composting is the natural way to cycle waste food into next year’s crop. It is the only natural way to deal with food waste.

  • 25.9% of all landfill waste is food or yard waste that could be diverted towards replenishing your soil for FREE, instead of it going into the landfill.  
  • Methane is a gas that is 300 times more potent than CO2 and is released when food waste decomposes in a landfill.

So, compost your unwanted food and yard waste as a way to nourish your garden and plants and to take part in the natural cycle of growth and decomposition.

 

 

 

How to Compost Video:

Click on this link, scroll down and watch these short videos on how to compost and see how easy and fun it is!
http://www.compost-for-sale.com/html/composting_the_easy_way.html

 

Food Scraps vs. Compost:

When I was a kid, I didn’t know exactly why we threw our carrot tops, watermelon rinds, and uneaten cereal slime from our morning bowls into a compost bin. So when my mother asked me to go put compost out on the garden, I went and scattered the fresh compost everywhere – eggshells, lemon rinds, and moldy bread I remember best. I knew somewhere deep down, intuitively, this could not be right, but baffled, I kept doing it because I just didn’t know that food scraps were not the compost she meant.

Anyhow, so you don't ever make the same mistake, this is what good compost is supposed to look like:

Recycling

Recycling Paper:

The United States Environmental Protection Agency‎ has found that recycling reduces water pollution by 35% and air pollution by 74% in comparison with making virgin paper. Just one company – “Waste Management” recycles enough paper every year to save 41 million trees.

Paper can not be recycled indefinitley because the fibers are degraded with each recycling and after being recycled four or five times the fibers become too short and weak to be useful in making paper.

Alhough recycling has proven to be a phenomenal aid in reducing our paper consumption and hence the eco-impacts of paper production, the best solution is to leave trees in forests and use hemp and other more sustainable options instead, or at least in addition.  Using trees for paper is too energy intensive and disruptive to the environment to continue using.  Hemp can produce 320x more fiber per acre per year than trees.

 

Recycling Plastic Bags?

As for recycling plastic bags, very little of it happens, only 5% or so.  It is not as easy to recycle plastic bags as other things because they can only be recycled at special disposal centers or now some grocery stores take them.

Plastic bag recycling is more accurately called “down-cycling”, because the original purpose can not be replicated.  Plastic bags can be turned into synthetic materials such as composite lumber for example, but don’t end up becoming plastic bags again.  Plastic bags are made only from virgin resin.

Many plastic bags end up in traditional recycling facilities that are not capable of dealing with them and their machines get gummed up and take twenty minute intervals several times a day to clean up.

Also, plastic bags that are supposed to get recycled, often end up getting shipped to third world countries where they can be incinerated more cheaply creating toxic waste for innocent people.

REDUCING is Better than Recycling: You can easily reduce your consumption of single-use plastic and paper bags and containers by reusing.


  • Use reusable produce bags, reusable bulk bags and reusable bakery bags
  • Bring your own jars or mugs for coffee and beverages

 

  • Bring your own glass containers for “to-go” and “take-out” food

 

Recycling is a really ingenious idea that works great for reducing our trash and CO2 footprints, but if you can completely replace single-use items with long lasting reusable ones you’ll have the greatest positive impact.

 

In 2010, Americans generated about 250 million tons of trash.

54.2% of it went to landfills
33.2% got recycled or composted,
12.6% was burned, with some energy recovery.

 

Benefits of Recycling:

  • New products can be made from recycled vs. virgin materials
  • Disposal is not an issue
  • Reduces green house gases, air and water pollution associated with making new products from raw materials.
  • The amount the U.S. recycled in 2008 reduced the amount of carbon emissions comparable to removing the emissions of 33 million passenger cars.
  • Recycling, instead of trashing, creates cleaner land, air, water, overall better health, and a more sustainable economy.

                                                    

 

 

 

 

Your Trash Footprint

Your Trash Footprint:

People across the globe have become much more aware of their carbon footprint. We would like to encourage you to also pay attention to your trash footprint.  

The notion of creating and using massive amounts of packaging that will never break down into usable components for the earth is not right. We need to start changing this habit by tracking our trash consumption.

At Hands On Hemp, we started to pay attention to how much trash we accumulate after just one week of living our fairly modest lifestyle. Even as we try to use less, we are stunned at our personal levels of consumption.

Packaging consists of one third of all municipal waste!!!  

How to Track your Trash at Home:

  • TRASH: Pay attention to how much trash you create in one week. Assess what is the major contributor. Take note that this trash basically never breaks down in landfills so is a permanent pollutant.
  • RECYCLING: Notice how many recyclable containers you use
    and also assess what they are. 

 

  • COMPSOSTING: Notice how much food you throw in the trash or how much you compost and hence divert from the landfill.
  • TALK about trash tracking with your friends and see what you can reduce or remove from your packaging habit.

RESULTS:

  1. What are your Findings?
  2. Can you make any changes?
  3. Can you do the three R’s: Reduce first, Reuse, then Recycle?
  4. Can you REDUCE buying pre-packaged items?
  5. Can you buy more bulk, produce, and fresh bakery items that are not pre-packaged?
  6. Can you make more of your favorite foods, cosmetics, and cleaners from scratch? 
  7. Can you REUSE containers, bags, and jars and buy in bulk?
  8. Can you RECYCLE or compost more?
  9. Talk about trash tracking with your friends and see what you can reduce or remove from your packaging habit.

Track potential trash at the Store:

Next time you're at the supermarket, look for all the foods that are packaged and then look for all the foods that have no packaging.  When we did this, we noticed that:

  • We still have a lot of freedom to choose our preferred “packaging” for produce, bulk, bakery, bread and coffee beans because they are not already prepackaged.

   

  • Because it is easy to use Hands-On Hemp bags for these foods, it is a good place to start making a difference.
  • Packaging looks like an attempt to replicate the bright colors of natural produce!

  • Practically everything is packaged!!!  

  • Stores would be a lot smaller if they didn't sell foods in packaging.

 

The Purpose of Packaging:

Packaging, besides being used for mass distribution of processed food, is mostly used as a form of advertising, marketing the brand name and basically convincing customers to buy your product.  The idea of trade marking a name and using it to sell your product was created in 1870 and ushered in a whole lot of wasteful packaging.Buying food in bulk– whether produce, nuts, flour, or bread can still give pertinent product information to the consumer on one sign above or below the product for sale.

Processed Food and Packaging:

Processed foods are inextricably linked to packaged foods. Many of the foods we know we really shouldn't be eating for our best health are also contributing to the total disease of the planet through their packaging. Chips, cookies, frozen foods, candy, many processed cereals and a lot more. Of course I do eat these things from time to time, but the correlation is clear. Take a look around in the stores and instead of buying processed, packaged food, try to make healthier and tastier versions from raw materials that don’t create unnecessary trash.

 

Health Food vs. The Planet:

Is “health food” that is in packaging, good for the earth?

We went to the largest national expo of health foods in the country in 2012, with over 2,000 exhibitors showcasing at least 10,000 products.

In this environment, 60,000 industry representatives show up for health food but end up sampling products and throwing out wrappers that can only go in the landfill.  

We couldn’t help but feel the horrible hypocrisy before us: Good people who truly believe in health, but have sacrificed true sustainability for the capitalist selling machine.

In January 2008 Clif Bar and Balance Bar teamed up with TerraCycle to form The Energy Bar Wrapper Brigade – the nation’s first used wrapper collection system. Their mission? To collect used energy bar wrappers, diverting them from the nation’s landfills in order to be upcycled into a material that could be used to make shower curtains, backpacks and other accessories.

The program, while awesome and undeniably effective,  upcycles only around 10% of wrappers produced by a single company and personally I never saw a wrapper that told me to send it somewhere to be upcycled.

Health Food has been co-opted by business which has both made it more mainstream, but has also sacrificed sustainability, which then makes that health food, not healthy in the big picture.  

Consider the best option:  make your favorite foods at home from scratch out of the most fresh and wholesome ingredients that don't require packaging!

 

Thank You For Buying Hands On Hemp Reusable Bags!

Thank you for buying a Hands On Hemp Reusable produce bags and bulk bags set. We know you'll love your hemp reusable bags as much as we do!

If you have any questions about your order, need some info on how to use the bags, or just want to let us know what you think.  Please contact us – we'd love to hear from you!

Contact: 

ariel@handsonhemp.com

 

You can also learn more about how to use our bags on our website under the Food Storage section.

 

PLEASE PASS THE WORD:

Hands On Hemp is a small company with big plans to support the environment through our reusable hemp bags!  Plus we are committed to eco-education and consciousness raising – most of our website is dedicated to this purpose. Please let your friends know about our Hands On Hemp website and our reusable produce bags and bulk bags. Or give them as a gift – our bags are great gifts for friends and family!

  • Share our blogs, educational and deep sustainability pages to FACEBOOK or email.

 RE-USE ON!!

 

Corporate Gift Bag Programs

Hands on Hemp Bags are many people’s favorite bag for tradeshows, corporate events, promotions, and gifts.

  • Show your “green” values and give a gift that has contemporary meaning, purpose and environmental sustainability.
  • Custom Print your company’s logo or design and see this bag travel not only to the event, but far beyond when it is re-used for many purposes including it’s original – for produce, bulk, and bakery at the grocery store.
  • Advertise your company brand name on a bag you want to be affiliated with.

 

 

 

(Bag print and design courtesy of The Makerie, Boulder, CO)

 

 

 

CONTACT US:

Please contact us for questions about pricing, volume discounts, display options, pictures, information sheets and more.

For more information contact Ariel Goettinger

Phone: 303-499-4998

Email: Ariel@handsonhemp.com

You Can Buy HANDS ON HEMP Bags Around the World!

To order bags from outside the U.S. please check the country distributor links below to see if you can order within your country from one of our trusted distributors and save on shipping costs. 

reusable produce bags and reusable bulk bags

People are taking action in every part of the world to replace the single-use bag habit. We’re proud to help you to be part of the solution by having international access to Hands On Hemp reusable bags for produce, bulk, bakery and more!

You can order bags direct from this website or order bags from these distributors/links in countries that have local shipping rates:

Australia: 

www.handsonhemp.com.au/index.php

 

 

Reusing vs. Single-use

ReUsing vs. Single-Use

The question of reusing vs. single usage arises in the context of our collective awakening to address environmental concerns. 

Single-usage is a luxury that we have become extremely accustomed to, but are now questioning as we try to do less harm and more good for the planet, especially considering our very serious plastic pollution of the oceans. 

 

Re-use Examples:  

It is really heartening to see creative ways people are reusing and hence reducing their trash footprints. Take a look at a few ideas:

Need a new fence, but have some old skis?  great!

 

Used-clothing shopping is the best way to find unique clothes that don't contribute to textile pollution and are cheap!

Wow, look at this beautiful garden and the pathway made from a tree that had to be cut down!

Single-Use History:

Throughout history, there was never a time, before the 1940’s, where the notion of using something only once made any sense. The judicious use of one’s resources was to use and reuse, repurpose, and restore everything as much as possible.

The idea of single-usage, or otherwise known as “disposables” was introduced as a public health safety measure to allow each person to have their own cup and not have to share from a common metal cup at a water bowl as was common place.

In response to this, the famous “Dixie Cup” was born and was used most often in train cars to help prevent the spread of disease when people drank water.

In 1948, McDonalds was the first restaurant to replace all their reusable table settings with disposables. The disposable trend has remained one primarily for public eating and drinking at fast food joints, “to-go” operations, and grocery stores.  "Disposables" became a way to save money, without thinking about the cost to the environment.  The use of disposables and the corporate backing for them introduced the culture of convenience.  This was the perception that we would be provided for at stores and groceries so we would no longer have to take responsibility for bringing our own bags etc… Fast food chains have a bad reputation for decimating precious and finite land and trees to supply, not only their animal products, but also their take-out paper products.  

As responsible citizens, we need to let these companies know, through our consistent actions, that we don't need their convenience/destruction and in fact prefer to bring our own reusable gear.   

The Truth about Reusables vs. Disposables:

In case there is any question about if reusables are more eco-friendly than disposables, we have referenced a study which compares reusable mugs to disposable cups. The results parallel findings from more recent studies comparing reusable bags vs. “disposable” ones which find that when you reuse your reusable items, they are more eco-friendly than single-use items.

In the study below, a reusable mug is found more eco-friendly than single-use cups once it is used 25 times or more. If you get a cup of coffee every day, after the first month of reusing your coffee mug, you’ll be having no further eco-impacts from your cup. If you use that mug for say 20 years, you’d reuse that mug over 7,000 times and eliminate about 240 disposable cups.

If only one person in the world used disposable cups, it wouldn’t be such a big deal, but Starbucks alone uses 4 Billion cups/year, which could all be replaced by reusing our own mugs or jars.

Ask Pablo. Disposable Cups vs. Reusable Mugs. December 17th, 2007.  http://www.triplepundit.com/2007/12/askpablo-disposable-cups-vs-reusable-mugs/

Americans use around 16 billion disposable hot cups a year.

The true cost of this is

  • 6.5 million trees (“disposable” hot cups must be at least 90% virgin material)
  • 253,000 tons of waste in landfills and oceans
  • 4 billion gallons of water
  • 2.5 million mtCO2 of green house gases, the equivalent of 450,000 passenger cars.

This is only for hot cups – 130 billion disposable cups of all kinds are used by Americans in one year.

http://www.aboutmyplanet.com/environment/paper-unsustainable/

Remember the WHOLE picture though:

To make any act truly sustainable, you need to think like an engineer about all the parts involved – so for a truly sustainable cup of coffee, you’d need your own mug,      

 organic and fair trade coffee and

 

Non GMO soy milk         

(or some other milk alternative to factory farm cow milk).

 

REUSABLE = LOVE:

Today, plastic and paper bags, utensils, plates, napkins, cups, straws, and bottles are now part of our “to-go” culture and can EASILY be replaced by individuals bringing their own reusable food and drink containers from home.

Luckily our disposable craze is starting to be replaced with common sense by many.

  • Many cities are creating bag bans or taxes

  • Lots of wedding and event planners rent table settings vs. using disposables

  • Some movie sets don’t allow plastic water bottles and instead provide a reusable bottle to each crew member and
  • 100% natural/zero processed disposable options like banana leaf plates are rare, but SO cool and bring us back to nature!

 

 

What is happening now, is the beginning of a worldwide change of consciousness that understands our survival (and happiness) is dependent on the health and welfare of our fellow humans, plants, animals, and ecosystems. We’re moving away from a linear way of thinking and embracing a more loving and understanding approach that takes all impacts into consideration.

 

 

 

Dixie Cup "Disposables" and the Koch Brothers:

Who owns Dixie Cups, along with multiple other product lines as well as oil refineries in three states?

The Koch brothers do.  

They are most famously known for their million dollar donations to attack Obama and progressive reforms. They believe in drastically lower personal and corporate taxes, minimal social services for the needy, and much less oversight of industry—especially environmental regulation.

Koch Industries has been named one of the top ten air polluters in the United States. Greenpeace issued a report identifying the company as a “kingpin of climate science denial.” The report showed that, from 2005 to 2008, the Kochs vastly outdid ExxonMobil in giving money to organizations fighting legislation related to climate change. The brothers have funded opposition campaigns against many Obama Administration policies—from health-care reform to the economic-stimulus program.  Learn more:New Yorker.com "Covert Operations"

We point this out to demonstrate that single-use is in fact connected to corporate interests that don't have the majority of life in their interest.  

Plastic Water Bottles:

Single-use bags are a really bad idea and even worse are single-use plastic water bottles!

Please check out the link below for The Story of Bottled Water:

Reusable Essentials:

Reusable Bags:
Using 10 – 20 reusable bags for grocery, produce, bulk, and bakery foods instead of about 30,000 single-use bags in one's life makes reusable bags essential.

Glass Mason Jars:
Glass mason jars are an essential to have around the house:

  • As glasses to drink out of and for hot drinks like tea and coffee
  • At stores for fresh squeezed juices and smoothies
  • As water bottles (which double as coffee, juice, or even beer containers once the water is gone) 
  • Like tupperware to store leftovers and to carry food spill-free to work or school.
  • As containers for “grind your own” nut butters, bulk olive oil, honey, agave, bulk foods and anything else that would otherwise require a plastic container of sorts. 
  • And for those creative re-users – party lights! wow!

 

Why should you switch to hemp reusable produce bags and bulk bags?

As some of the most privileged people to ever live on the planet, it’s our responsibility to make choices that will uplift our earth’s health, beauty and natural diversity now and for generations to come.

Convenience is one of our many privileges, but too often it comes at a cost to our health, the environment, animals, the powerless and the poor.

Using reusable bags as part of a mission to protect our earth and act conscientiously helps reduce the unnecessary massive consumption of resource intensive toxic plastic and paper bags, single-use items, and packaging.

Here are some facts that will make you want to change your ways and educate your friends and family too.

Americans use 60 thousand plastic bags every five seconds.

That is 1 million bags every 1.5 minutes! These plastic bags might be reused a few times but sooner or later they will end up on city streets, in sewers, the ocean gyres or landfills.

Americans use 1.14 million paper bags every hour. Paper bags degrade quickly and can only be reused a few times around the house. Only 10%-15% of paper bags are returned to recycle.

Each person, on average produces 4.5 pounds of trash each day, or 1,642.5 pounds a year or 131,400 pounds in an 80 year lifetime. Holy trash!

 

 

EACH PERSON CAN REPLACE 40,000 PLASTIC AND PAPER BAGS IN THEIR LIFETIME BY USING REUSABLE BAGS.

When we become aware of an issue we’d like to change we often feel rather powerless against the odds. With this particular issue, though, you really can make a difference every time you use reusable bags instead of single use plastic or paper bags. This kind of change does not require calling senators and protesting all day. It just requires choosing how to shop!

There is nothing to lose, except of course, our wasteful habits.

 

FACTS ABOUT PLASTIC:

  • 80% of the trash polluting our oceans is plastic.
  • Plastics leech into your food and body, even through simple skin contact or through plastic bag breakdown.
  • Plastic bags wrap around coral reefs, quickly suffocating and killing them. 25% of all marine life depends on fragile coral reefs for survival.
  • Plastic never biodegrades, it only breaks down into smaller pieces, mixing with and poisoning water and organic matter.

FACTS ABOUT PAPER:

  • Contrary to popular belief, paper is one of the worst industrial contributors to air, water, and land pollution, climate change, and is one of the largest consumers of water, energy, and forest fiber.
  • Two-thirds of U.S. forestlands are used for production of commercial wood products.
  • Hemp is a fast growing weed and can produce 320 times more fiber per acre than trees can.
  • The logging industry is based on producing “disposable” products. Over 50% of paper produced is used for packaging.
  • Recycled paper bag production uses a lot of energy that comes from nonrenewable resources such as coal.

Local Food Movement: Farmers Markets, Grow your own and more

Organic, Local, Fresh, Food!!! 

Hands On Hemp reusable produce bags are great at the Farmers MarketOne amazing uprising that is both changing consciousness and reconnecting us to the earth is the organic, local foods movement.

Food is what keeps us alive but many kids in our next generation have no idea where it comes from, beyond the store. When most people – kids and adults alike are disconnected from our food source, we lose control over our most precious resource. This means that others decide what is available to us, if it’s available to us, and how it’s grown, processed, and transported. It also means that most of us are severed from the only thing that is innately sane – mother nature. And what more basic way can humans relate to the earth, but by growing their own food, putting their own hands in the soil, physically engaging in a sweaty and disciplined creative process and witnessing the miracle of life that keeps us alive? 

Grow your Own Food!

Farmer's Markets:

The local food movement is ablaze with passionate people who are feeling the same inner call to get back to our place of belonging in the natural world.  Local Farmer’s Markets and many Local Restaurants and Natural Food Supermarkets are growing and/or sourcing locally grown seasonal food.

 

Roof Top Gardens:

Other zesty pioneers are getting into growing their own garden on the ground or on the roof – wtih goats up there on the right.

 

Community and Inner City Gardens:

There are many community and inner city gardens that are helping apartment-bound city dwellers, poorer people, refugees, and those in rehab to eat healthy fresh produce, learn payable skills, connect with each  other and the earth.

And let's not forget the the first White House veggie garden ever with the Obama's!

 

Michelle Obama, our first lady, is walking her talk about healthy local living for Americans and it's beautiful to see her in action!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Garden:

Our own garden takes regular, but minimal effort to grow and maintain considering the incredible abundance it offers up. Our 7 year old peach tree is bearing fruit for the first time this year and is literally bending over backwards (and being held up by metal posts and a ladder underneath the biggest branch) to produce more peaches than it can support on it’s limbs – more than enough peaches to share with the squirrels, feed a family of four for a month, and freeze or can some for the winter.

This morning I decided I needed a good hearty hot lunch, so I gathered almost every ingredient I needed from the garden. Carrots freshly pulled from the dirty ground, a yellow beet stored perfectly next to the carrots, beet greens and cabbage. Honestly, I was stressing about needing to get to work (to write this) but as I cut into the root veggies, the bright yellow of the beet brought me the most exquisite sense of appreciation, purpose, calm, and inspiration. Try to explain that and you can’t – it can only be experienced first hand.

Politics of eating locally grown food:

On the political and economic side of things, in a world where everyone could have enough food, it is crucial that everyone be able to grow, access, and control the quality and quantity of their food locally. In the world we need to create, where we use our earth’s resources responsibly without excessive polluting, it’s essential that we source our food organically and locally instead of using petroleum and chemicals on food and in gas-guzzling trucks and planes to transport food across the country.

Local Buying:

Buying locally helps you to be more dependent on people and companies you know and love. It helps keep your local economy thriving, which helps you get and keep your job in that community.

When you buy locally, you can more often buy organically too.

Buying locally is crucial for minimizing transportation pollution, which contributes about 30% of our greenhouse gases and hence climate change.

 Organic is the only healthy way to eat:

 

There are a whole host of reasons to buy and eat organically. 

My 8 year old niece was telling me that her mom doesn’t try very hard to buy organic. I told her, that simply put, pesticides are meant to kill living creatures and not be eaten by those that would like to thrive. Herbicides are meant to kill weeds, but weeds become immune and grow even more voraciously. I also told her that eating the conventional blueberries and raisins in front of us was like popping little poison pills. Eating organic may seem more costly to her mom, but in the long run it's much cheaper health care than going to the doctor.

 

 

 

 

LEARN MORE:

  1. ONE
  2. TWO
  3. THREE

Radical Growers:  

Front Yard Gardens!
In Boulder CO, gardens in the front yard are still a bit taboo, but locals are doing it more and more and making it the norm. People are maximizing whatever sunny spot they have to grow food – something that actually warrants water, as opposed to grass.

Colorado is one of many incredibly dry states – technically considered a desert, even though it doesn’t look like it compared to Arizona. Everyone knows it makes no sense to use precious limited water for grass when the Colorado river is drying up along with all our other water supplies.

Fruit trees:

Fruit trees in the yard are also making a comeback: Apple, Apricot, Peach, Pear, Plum, and Cherry all work great in Colorado. They make for beautiful trees, but their ultimate purpose is shade and food. It’s only a radical idea because we have to step outside our normal ideas of buying fruit that has traveled across 5-15 states to get to us. Even in the “peach state” of Georgia, no one has a peach tree in their yard – purely because this commonsense trend has not hit their fairly conservative lawns yet. I know in Florida many folks do grow their own orange, lemon, and grapefruit trees. Right On!

Foraging:

The other traditional concept making a big comeback today is foraging – finders are keepers.
One or our housemates, Andrea, has been showing us how it’s done and inspiring our curiosity about these food gems we have been previously blind to. For example, she harvested chokecherries she found on her walk around the lake, which she then proceeded to make into a syrup better than any I’d ever had. Next we learned about the crab apples in our own back yard that have been going to waste for years. She said we could make jam from them. We were treated to a “weed salad” which is supposed to be much more nutrient dense than regular salad – though a bit tougher I have to admit. She also went mushroom hunting, which I was worried about and didn’t partake in the eating of, but she and our other 2 housemates all survived! I feel wiser and closer to the earth through our adventures in foraging with Andrea.

BackYard Free Range Chickens too:

 

A Brief History of Hemp and the Politics of Hemp in the USA

The politics of hemp in the USA

Currently in the USA,  it is currently illegal to grow hemp, though ironically the United States is one of the largest importers of hemp products. Many states are working on legislation to allow the production of industrial hemp and are making progress. In the 2012 elections, it JUST became legal to grow hemp in Colorado and Washington.  We are on a new horizon now and it will be interesting to see if states legalizing hemp will prevail over Federal regulation against it.  It will also be interesting to see how long or short it may take to build the infrastructure to grow, process, and manufacture finished hemp products. 

The US is the only industrialized nation that does not allow hemp production. All hemp fabric must therefore be imported.

Hemp was revered with widespread use until the 1930s, when a smear campaign was created by a few powerful individuals in competing industries, the media, and government. They had personal and financial interests in destroying the future of hemp, and they successfully banned it from being grown in the USA by creating and pushing through laws which are still in place to this day.

The hemp plant was forced out of favor during the late 1930s and demonized in the public mind due to its direct competition with other materials.

During this time:

  • The DuPont company began to develop chemicals that enabled the mass production of trees processed into paper.
  • William Randolph Hearst, the owner of the largest newspaper chain in the United States, backed by Mellon Bank, invested significant capital in timberland and wood paper mills to produce his newsprint using
  • DuPont's chemicals. DuPont also developed nylon fiber as a direct competitor to hemp in the textile and cordage industries.
  • Pharmaceutical companies began producing synthetic drugs to replace natural medicines including hemp extract.
  • Propaganda around cannabis was fueled by intense racism towards Mexicans, with many of the newspapers at the time, including Hearst-owned papers, publishing hundreds of lurid stories about people raping and murdering while under the influence of marijuana (the Mexican slang term for cannabis.) The stories rarely mentioned the hemp that people used everyday as rope, paper, medicine, and more.

For a complete history of hemp, refer to San Diego Earth Times article: http://www.sdearthtimes.com/et0199/et0199s11.html)

The politics of hemp is part of the politics of corporate America, and a reflection that the powerful few, still tend the interests of the many.

Although hemp is superior to most other industrial products in its wide variety of uses and unmatched environmental sustainability, big industry still makes money producing products that all too often are not sustainable and therefore are created at the expense of our earth.

Hemp's competing industries:

  • Paper
  • Cotton
  • Synthetic Fabrics
  • Plastics
  • Oil
  • Petrochemicals
  • Logging
  • Wood Mills
  • Pharmaceuticals

Profits over Planet:

Banning hemp cultivation in the USA effectively removed from the marketplace a plant that is extremely sustainable and environmentally friendly. Laws took away the option for individual farmers to grow and profit from an inexpensive, sustainable, and easily cultivated crop and instead upheld the growth of other non-sustainable products such as nylon and paper made from wood.

The history of this ban speaks to the movement in the USA and other western countries towards caring more about profits than anything else and putting the "bottom line" before small farmers who have done so much to feed America.

The ban of growing hemp in the USA appears to have nothing to do with what was, or is, best for the American people or the planet. This ban was instead based primarily upon a model that would allow only a few companies to prosper and grow.

A brief history of Hemp

Hemp has been cultivated since ancient times. The earliest known woven fabric was made of hemp and dates back to the eighth millennium (8,000-7,000) BC.

Hemp has played a significant role in the evolution of humanity across much of the planet because of its variety of uses.

Throughout time it has been used for money and other paper products, ropes, cloth, sails, food, fuel, natural medicine, cement, and paint.

Some facts about hemp (from "The History and Benefits of hemp," San Diego Earth Times 1999):

  • The oldest printed paper in existence is a 100 percent hemp – Chinese text dated to 770 AD.
  • Hemp seeds have provided a combustible fuel oil throughout human history.
  • Henry Ford himself manufactured the body of an automobile from hemp-based plastic in 1941. The plastic was much lighter than steel and could withstand ten times the impact without denting. The car was even fueled by clean-burning hemp-based ethanol fuel.
  • Christopher Columbus' ships were fully rigged in hemp.
  • The USS Constitution, "Old Ironsides," was outfitted with over 40 tons of hemp rigging.
  • There is evidence in ancient Egyptian archaeological sites of hemp-based concrete.
  • Hemp was the first plant known to have been domestically cultivated.

Hemp can be made to be stronger and lighter than metal, the fibers from the plant are longer and stronger then any other plant-based fiber, making it extremely durable. It has been used for thousands of years because it is simple and fast to grow, can be cultivated in areas that are difficult to grow other plants, and does not require pesticides or fertilizer.

In fact it is a crop that has been shown to actually support the earth it is planted in, which has made it ideal as a rotation crop. When hemp is harvested its roots and leaves are left behind, thus giving essential nutrients to the soil.

In Februrary 1937, Popular Mechanics predicted hemp would be the world's first "Billion Dollar Crop" that would support thousands of jobs and provide a vast array of consumer products from dynamite to plastics.

So why, you might ask is the hemp plant still such a controversy in the USA? Why would it actually be illegal to grow a plant that offers so much benefit with so little down side? Why would an environmentlally damaging crop, such as corn be supported by the US government when the hemp crop is banned?

Corn depletes the soil, requires much water to grow, and requires significant pesticides and fertilizer, whereas hemp is inarguably sustainable. For that matter why is hemp the enemy while plastic and other synthetic materials are actually finanically supported by the US government?


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US History of Hemp

  • America’s founding fathers grew hemp. Presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson both grew hemp and went to great lengths to get the best possible seeds.

 

  • The first American flag was made of hemp fabric.

 

  • The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were drafted on hemp paper.

 

  • Between the years 1500-1750 Americans were legally bound to grow hemp.

 

  • The 1850 United States Census counted 8,327 hemp “plantations” (minimum 2,000-acre farms) growing cannabis hemp for cloth, canvas, and the cordage used for baling cotton.

 

  • Hemp became prohibited to grow in 1937.

 

  • 1942-1945, during World War II, the Armed Forces were faced with a shortage of fiber for their supplies. The federal government subsidized hemp and US farmers grew about one million acres of hemp as part of that program.

 

  • After the war, the US soldiers were ordered to destroy the million acres of hemp fields planted for their benefit.

 

Learning about the history of the ban on hemp cultivation in the USA is like coming upon crossroads with two very different potentials.

One road is toward the future we now are living in, where non-sustainable practices have polluted and depleted our waters and land. A future where cycnisism, fear, and hopelessness are common.

The other "less trodden" road, is one of hope and community awareness…where the cultivation of truely sustainable products, supported by individual and national choices to care deeply, might lead to a very different future for all of us.

Luckily we're each still individually and collectively creating history. Our choices CAN make a difference right now!

Which road will you choose?