Imagine you’re at the beach. Maybe you’re sticking your toes in the sand and getting a tan while sitting with a good book. As you watch your kids build sandcastles the thought crosses your mind, future generations may not have the luxury of relaxing at the oceanfront. In fact, even now plastic pollution washes up on shores and air quality can be hazardous, which makes a relaxing day at the beach difficult to enjoy for many. Between plastic waste and the harms of oil production, it's hard to imagine that a cleaner planet is still possible. Fortunately, there may be an answer to a cleaner, greener future that allows humans to still reap the benefits of a convenient life. As an alternative to traditional plastics and fuels, hemp poses a few potential solutions to the human race’s pollution problem.
Hemp is a fascinating plant. While replacing harmful plastics and oils with hemp based alternatives is an obvious plus, hemp may actually help the environment just by being grown. Hemp has a relatively quick gestation period, which means less resources are necessary to grow hemp to be harvested. In addition to that, hemp is actually a bioaccumulator, meaning it pulls toxins from the soil in which it is grown. This enriches the soil used, often pulling out heavy metals from the earth. While hemp is great for soil, some also say hemp may be a carbon sink. This means it absorbs more carbon dioxide than is used to cultivate the plant, which can help to benefit the ozone layer of the planet.
While being a possible carbon sink is already a huge advancement, hemp has the potential to cut down our emissions even further. With advancements in technology, hemp may replace fuel as we know it. This would not only raise the demand for hemp cultivation -- which may offset carbon dioxide’s threat to life on earth, but may help cut back on the danger of burning fossil fuels. In fact, hemp biodiesel has been studied to be a carbon neutral alternative. Not to mention, the harms of oil drilling would be greatly reduced -- if not entirely eliminated -- with the rise of hemp fuel. Unfortunately, the oil industry is massive and wealthy. In order to see hemp fuels replace that of fossil fuels, we need to advocate for change. This change could transform the planet ecologically and economically.
In addition to tearing down the fuel giants, there is another industry that needs to be tackled or at least changed -- plastics. Plastic is everywhere. It’s in the grocery store, pretty much every parking lot, stuffed into landfills, floating in our oceans -- it has gotten truly ridiculous. Plastics have only existed since the mid 19th century, yet the harm they have done within that time is devastating. Research points towards hemp plastics being a viable and biodegradable replacement. Many argue the point with biodegradable plastics that the plastics would degrade on shelves, or when in use. A study was actually done which showed that hemp plastics degraded quite quickly in soil, but stayed more or less the same on a store shelf or in someone's home.
We’re entering a new era, and the planet is pleading for us to change. While replacing oil and plastic production is monumental, that really just scratches the surface of what hemp can do for the environment. With the diverse applications for hemp, it is truly a great resource that can help humanity step into a greener and cleaner future.