Hemp Plants Effect Your Carbon Footprint
There is a lot of news about our carbon footprint, climate change and how plastic is ruining our ecosystems. In order to understand how hemp could change all three of these it is important to understand what they are.
Hemp plastic could solve part of our Great Pacific Garbage Patch
Great Pacific Garbage Patch:
According to the National Geographic Society there are actually two such patches. One is near Japan and the other is between the U.S. states of Hawaii and California. The two patches are tied together in a sense. The subtropical convergence zone acts as a superhighway for the garbage to flow from one patch to the other and back again. Efforts are being made to clean this up, although one machine that set out to do it ended up breaking down.
Most of this garbage is plastic. Grocery bags, plastic cups, bottles and even toys are in this mess. So are a lot of fishing nets… the commercial variety. The problem has gotten so bad that several states have banned the use of plastic bags. Customers have to either bring their own or purchase reusable bags from whichever store they have visited. In fact, California is prepared to ban plastic straws.
Before going into the facts about climate change it is necessary to understand how the natural greenhouse effect works. The greenhouse effect itself is an imperative for life on Earth. Without it our average temperature would be zero degrees Fahrenheit.
We get some of our heat from the sun. Thirty percent never reaches the Earth’s surface. It is reflected back into space by clouds and other bright features such as ice. The seventy percent we do get warms the atmosphere and the surface, both water and land. The heat then radiates back into the atmosphere. There it is joined by water and greenhouse gases. The warmer the surface the more heat goes into the atmosphere.
There are a lot of indicators that there is more heat on Earth now than there has been for a long time. Average global temperatures are rising on a yearly basis. There is a great deal more extreme weather. The ice caps are melting as are many glaciers. Has this ever happened before? Yes, it has. However it usually takes thousands of years for this cycle to change from warmer to colder and back. This is happening far faster than ever before.
The problem is largely with carbons. The amount of carbon in the atmosphere is higher than it has been in the last six hundred-fifty thousand years. There are plenty of natural reasons for increased carbon in the atmosphere. Volcanoes are a good example. However as we burn fossil fuels we also produce carbons. It’s not just cars. Industry uses a great deal of it as do power plants.
Can Hemp Repair Our Ecosystems:
A recent series of storms in Southern California has highlighted one way plastic is wreaking havoc on our ecosystems. At the end of the storm all of the beaches were covered with trash, most of it plastic. This garbage was washed out of roadways into storm drains and waterways until it reached the end… the Pacific Ocean. That’s just the stuff we can see that landed down there.
An animated movie several years ago highlighted another problem. Happy Feet came out in November of 2006. One of the characters in it had a plastic beverage holder around its neck. In order for it to survive he had to have it cut off. Not all creatures are so luck.
There have been numerous posts on social media of animals that are dealing with our plastic waste. One of the more recent ones was of a sea turtle totally ensnared in a commercial fishing net. The video shows someone cutting the net off of the turtle and helping it back into the ocean. There are also reports of dead whales and sharks with their stomachs filled with plastic.
Here is a question for you. What if these things didn’t have to keep happening? What if there was some miraculous way to replace plastic with something biodegradable? What if that something didn’t require massive amounts of fossil fuel to produce? What if we could grow it?
Almost all clothing has at least some polyester in it, especially if it’s fashionable. This move away from cotton, silk and wool started towards the end of WWII when manufacturers figured out how to make materials.
The production of polyester takes up large quantities of fossil fuels. Its half-life can be as long as two hundred years and that does not mean it is biodegradable. On the other hand garments made from hemp are softer than any other fabric. It is stronger than cotton and takes much less water and arable land to grow. It also matures quickly. It’s ready to harvest in ninety days where cotton takes nine months.
Hemp For Construction:
If you’ve ever stepped on a Lego barefoot you know they are sturdy little pieces of plastic. However they don’t have to be made from that substance. In fact, a Canadian company manufactures construction bricks used for housing made from hemp, lime and water.
Besides being more environmentally friendly these bricks get stronger over time rather than weaken. They are also a much better insulator than standard cinder blocks. This cuts down on the need for fiberglass and it cuts energy costs.
Grocery bags: Many of us have gotten used to taking our own grocery bags with us to the market. However that can pose its own set of problems. Reusable bags can become germ magnets, particularly if they’ve had meat in them. Many reusable bags are also made at least partially from plastic so it’s not as environmentally friendly as it seems.
On the other hand there are companies that make 100% hemp disposable grocery bags. These bags biodegrade in about three months. They can be recycled or reused. They’re also stronger than standard grocery bags.
Hemp does one other thing for the health of our planet. It eats more CO2 than trees do. With its rate of growth and many uses it could help us save our planet.