HEMP Part II: Paper

The second part of this five part series is about hemp and paper.

According to naihc.org, there are over 25,000 different products that can be made using hemp, one of those is paper. To give you an idea of how long hemp has been around: hemp as a textile industry began in 8,000 B.C. and the Chinese invented hemp paper in 100 B.C. By 600 A.D., according to hemphousemaui.com, the Vikings, Franks, and Germans are all using the hemp fiber. In 1150 AD, hemp is used in the first paper mill and for the next 700 years almost all paper is made from hemp. And in 1631, hemp is used as money in the American colonies.

What’s so bad about the current paper industry? Paper mills produce a lot of stinky smells which are caused by gaseous sulfur compounds and given the right weather conditions when those smells can become concentrated, it proves a big problem to those with issues like emphysema. I’ve gone through old paper mill towns and I can tell you, it stinks like rotten eggs! The paper industry is also a large source of toxic pollution, according to the Clean Water Action Council. The run off from their mills contains toxins that are deadly to wildlife and our drinking water. Not to mention, the paper mill process requires a lot of energy adding to our air pollution problem because they typically have to build their own power plants. The paper industry also requires a lot of water for the production of paper and it creates a lot of solid waste.

According to Hemphasis.net, “Making paper from trees is kind of a joke, because trees are made up of only 30% cellulose. The other 70% of the tree must be removed using toxic chemicals, until the cellulose can be formed into paper. The higher the percentage of cellulose in a plant, the better, because fewer chemicals need to be used, and less work needs to be done before the paper can be made. Almost any plant in nature with a strong stalk is better suited to make paper than trees, especially hemp because it can be 85% cellulose (Hemphasis.net).”

And why is hemp a great alternative? Hemp makes stronger paper and lasts centuries longer. Hemp paper does not yellow, crack, or otherwise deteriorate like tree paper does because of the acids which are needed in wood paper production. Hemp paper does not require bleaching which means it does not poison the water supply with dioxins or chlorine like a regular paper mill. Hemp can be made without ANY chemicals, the only draw back to that is that the process takes a little bit longer. “One acre of hemp can produce as much paper as 4 to 10 acres of trees over a 20-year cycle, but hemp stalks only take four months to mature, whereas trees take 20 to 80 years. This information was known in 1916, according to a USDA report.” Many believe that hemp can single handedly solve worldwide deforestation. Hemp paper is also more recyclable than tree paper, according to hempmuseum.org.

Hemp is truly an alternative fiber!

Helpful links:
Green Field Paper Company
Ecopaper
Living Tree Paper CO.

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