Despite its unfounded association with recreational drugs and anti-fashion, hemp (Cannabis sativa) remains a popular material in green design; for good reason – this plant is versatile and sustainable. Hemporium’s Tony Budden tells us more.
Text: Tony Budden
Hemp is one of the oldest cultivated crops in the world. It can be used as an industrial building material in the form of hempcrete, a mix of ground hemp stalks, lime and cement. As hempcrete dries and hardens, it pulls carbon dioxide from the air. Hemp, sand and lime can also be mixed into a rough plaster. An added benefit of a hemp structure is that it is ultimately biodegradable. Building sites that use hemp materials are easy to clean and have a low carbon footprint.
Hemp fabric provides high UV protection, retains colour better than cotton does and is both breathable and an excellent insulator. It is soft but durable (three times stronger than cotton) and can be mixed with cotton or silk to produce a variety of fabric types and weights. Hemp fabric can be used for clothing, curtains, indoor and outdoor furniture covers, duvet covers, upholstery and home furnishings and finishes.
Hemp is hypo-allergenic, which means that materials made from hemp are safe for asthma sufferers. It also has natural anti-bacterial properties making it resistant to mildew and mould, even in high humidity.
Hemp is a low-impact crop and can be grown organically with ease as cultivation methods require minimal agro-chemicals, herbicides and pesticides.