Fashion is a world of excess; it is no surprise it stands atop the list of most wasteful industries. That being said, a large reason lies in the materials it takes to make a garment. When it comes to cellulose fibers it is not just the materials themselves, but also the land it takes to grow the fibers and the resources that they require to thrive. Cotton has always been a major player, although other more sustainable fibers are making their way into the production process. One fiber that would have a large sustainable impact is hemp. Despite its benefits, the history of hemp in America is one filled with bureaucracy.
Amber waves of grain hemp?
The Bible is printed on hemp, our Declaration of Independence was printed and signed on it and the slogan “Hemp for Victory” reigned supreme during WWII. Quite the contrary, since now American farmers are banned from growing the hemp plant. The reason is because, you guessed it, is marijuana. According to Forbes, hemp products produced $500 million in sales in 2012, yet American companies who use it in their products have to get it imported. It is falsely believed that is the government were to legalize hemp they are in a sense promoting marijuana. In the meantime, companies do not want to add to production costs by importing additional materials, despite reducing the carbon footprint.
Fashion at the Forefront
Did you know that it takes one third of a pound of chemicals to make just one t-shirt? Cotton may be the fabric of our lives, but it’s killing God’s green earth one Hane’s white tee at a time. Textile firms have been researching sustainable fibers and are finding hemp could be at the forefront of the sustainability movement. The reason being, it so closely resembles cotton and other cellulose materials. Since it requires less chemicals to pulp and has a natural light color, it could actually eliminate the need for bleach. It has a more “linen” type feel, which receives mixed reviews, but the innovation has begun. Manufacturer EnviroTextiles has been relentlessly researching various methods to create finishes and to replicate other fabrics. They already have produced hemp “denim” and “wool.” Hemp does not just lead more sustainable apparel production; it also leads to more sustainable farming. Not as fickle as other crops, it can grow in a plethora of regions with varying climates. It is naturally more resistant to pests and the compact way in which it grows makes it difficult for weeds to even surface in its vicinity.
With all this talk and no legislature, it seems as if eco-fashion is just lusting over lofty ideals. All things considered, Maine is the first of the states to propose two bills that will legalize the production of hemp. Without such laws, industrial hemp will never be able to scale. With its sustainability in apparel and also its abilities to cut production costs, it is a cause that many companies can get behind. Due to that, is getting easier to believe the future of fashion could be coming to a store near you.