.. on our society. Hemp can be made into fuel, paper, and clothing, which could drastically change the oil, logging, and cotton industries. All three industries have had problems in the past dealing with environmental concerns, and hemp could provide an alternative that is environmentally friendly, while remaining cost effective (Schreiber 24). Since the invention of the engine and the oil furnace, America has relied on fossil fuels to power their cars and heat their homes. Even though there have been advances in solar and electrical energy, fossil fuels have become a significant part of our daily lives.
It is believed that if present rates of use continue, in 200 years we will completely exhaust all of our oil reserves. Because of this, it is imperative that an alternative to fossil fuels is implemented so we do not run into a problem when all of earths’ oil is gone (Schreiber 24). One of the most feasible options is methanol, a clean burning fuel, which can be used to run combustion engines as well as run a furnace. Perhaps one of the best sources for methanol is hemp. Hemp produces ten times more methanol as corn, which is one of America’s main sources of it today (Schreiber 24). Not only does methanol derived from hemp burn well, it doesn’t contribute to the destruction of the environment like fossil fuels do.
Fossil fuels release damaging sulfur and carbon into the air, contributing to acid rain and the increase of “Greenhouse gasses.” Methanol does not. Another advantage of using hemp for fuel is the fact that America wouldn’t rely on foreign countries for the product. All the hemp needed to power our cars and heating systems could be grown on our own soil (Julin 5b). While hemp is being grown for fuel, it could also be grown for paper at the same time. The paper industry is one of the bigger industries in America today. It is estimated that by the year 2010, the paper usage of the world will increase 90 percent due to population increases.
Andy Kerr, the former executive director of the Oregon Natural Resources Council said, “Hemp makes sense. We are already short on forests and it is going to get worse. The demand simply cannot be sustained. We already have too many people consuming too much” (Washuk 2). With the need for more paper and decreasing forests, using hemp for paper instead of trees could help the shortage that will occur in the future. Hemp paper will not only take care of the shortage, but it will be marginally better than the previous wood-based paper. Hemp paper is not only stronger than wood based paper, but last much longer and does not require the dangerous chemicals that are used in the bleaching process. Due to its reliability, the first two drafts of the Declaration of Independence were written on hemp paper, as was the Constitution (Williams 3). Normal paper processing produces a nasty byproduct called dioxin, which is toxic and is extremely damaging to the environment.
Not only is making hemp paper safer, hemp yields up to four times more paper per acre than trees (Julin 4a). Thousands of acres of hemp could be planted for paper, while preserving our forests, which help contribute to our environment. One industry, which is certainly not new to America, is cotton. It has been used in America for hundred of years to make clothes, fabric, and many other things. Although soft, and reasonably priced, cotton is a soil-damaging crop which requires large amounts of fertilizer to grow. One half of pesticides that are used the U.S.
are applied on cotton. These pesticides are commonly toxic and can damage the air and the earth (Julin 3b). One alternative to cotton for clothes and fabric is hemp. The stalk of the hemp plant can be used to make hemp clothing that is stronger and longer lasting than cotton clothes. Designers like Calvin Klein and Giorgio Armani have added hemp clothes and bed linens to their product lines.
In 1996 Adidas sold approximately 30,000 pairs of shoes made partially from hemp. Although hemp clothing is much more expensive now, the price would drop as the demand became higher. One of the disadvantages of hemp clothing is that it is not naturally soft like cotton. It has more of a texture comparable to burlap, or canvas. When combined with other fabrics, or if it undergoes a special processing treatment, it can be made to be extremely soft (McGraw 1).
This would make it more marketable and suitable for fine clothes, or anything that comes in contact with the skin frequently. In the future, the way our culture goes about daily tasks, the way we do things, is bound to change. Our government is bound to change as well. Even though hemp is illegal now, its benefits are so numerous that it is just a matter of time before it becomes a thriving industry. What America needs a renewable source of fuels and fibers that will meet the growing needs of the future. Hemp can fulfill that need.
It has the potential to make better clothes, better fuel, and better paper. Perhaps some day in the future, hemp will become the worlds leading crop again, as it once was. Bibliography Barnard, Jeff. “Hemps Profile Getting Higher But Marijuana Factor Still a Bummer.” Los Angeles Times [Electric Library] 23 August 1998 Cauchon, Dennis. “Canadian Hemp Isnt Going to Pot.” USA Today [Electric Library] 7 October 1998. Pg13A Jenkins, Phil. “Field Of Opportunity.” Canadian Geographic [Electric Library] 1 March 1999 Julin, Brian. “The Hemp FAQ.” www.cannabis.com/faqs/hemp1.shtml 1994 Kicklighter, Kirk.
“Getting Hemp Over The Hump.” The News & Observer [Electric Library] 4 July 1998. McDougal, Jeanette. “Good Reasons to Stay Skeptical About Legalizing Industrial Hemp.” Minneapolis Start Tribune [Electric Library] 29 April 1999. Pg24A McGraw, Dan. “Hemp is High Fashion.” U.S.
News & World Report [Electric Library] 20 January 1997 Pg54-56 Quinn, Patrick. “Greeks Seek to Weed Out Hemp.” The Associated Press News Service [Electric Library] 13 November 1998 Schreiber, Gisela. The Hemp Handbook. Great Britain: Vision Paperbacks, 1999. Williams, Ted. “Legalize It!” Audubon Magazine [Email] November 1999. Washuk, Bonnie.
“Hemp Touted as a Better Paper Source.” Sun Journal [Electric Library] 5 April 1998.