Eco-Footprints

Hemp, erroneously associated with marijuana, can be a multi-billion dollar environment-friendly industry producing everything from diapers, cellophane and Styrofoam to newspapers. Many studies in the United States in the last 60 years suggest hemp can be a better and cleaner fuel source than fuel derived from corn.

Hemp, erroneously associated with marijuana, can be a multi-billion dollar environment-friendly industry producing everything from diapers, cellophane and Styrofoam to newspapers. Many studies in the United States in the last 60 years suggest hemp can be a better and cleaner fuel source than fuel derived from corn. And it gives back to the environment. Just about all of hemp is non-polluting and recyclable, it absorbs carbon dioxide, and has been shown to naturally bio-degrade at 12 times faster than many of the products we use today.
So why don’t we use it?
In the early 1920s, so the story goes, newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst along with a chemist named Lammont DuPont, along with logging and oil companies petitioned the U.S. government to make legislate hemp as an illegal drug associated with marijuana. At the same time Hearst, the owner of the largest newspaper chain in the U.S., backed by Mellon Bank, invested significant capital in timberland and wood paper mills to produce his newsprint using DuPont’s chemicals.
Hemp’s potential was a major threat to many businesses. After all, hemp farmers wouldn’t need DuPont’s chemicals to grow their hemp because the crop is self-sufficient. The hemp-based ethanol fuel that was mentioned in a Popular Mechanics’ article in 1933 probably didn’t sit too well with the oil companies of the time. They also couldn’t have been too thrilled to learn that this plant produced high-strength plastics without a petroleum base. The hemp-based plastics developed at the time were stronger and lighter than steel, which we can imagine wasn’t the best news for the steel industry.
It was easy pickings, so to speak, because it was the steel industry that said hemp was as addciative as marijuana. And the people believed them
The hemp and marijuana plants might look the same, but the similarities stop there.
Hemp is a sustainable, annual crop that is ready for harvest just 120 days after going to seed, compared to trees which take tens or hundreds of years to reach maturity. Further, harvesting hemp doesn’t destroy the natural habitats of thousands of distinct animal and plant species.
And you can smoke it all you want and you won’t get high.
Hemp’s cellulose level is almost three times that of wood, so it makes superior paper and yields four times as much pulp per acre as trees. The hemp paper process also utilizes less energy and fewer chemicals than tree paper processing and doesn’t create the harmful dioxins.
Hemp seeds have provided a combustible fuel oil throughout human history. More importantly, though, the same high cellulose level that makes hemp ideal for paper also makes it perfect for ethanol fuel production. Ethanol is the cleanest-burning liquid bio-alternative to gasoline. In one test in 2001, an unleaded gasoline automobile engine produced a thick, black carbon residue in its exhaust, while the tailpipe of a modified ethanol engine tested for the same 3,500 miles remained pristine and residue-free.
If we begin to use hemp to replace our products, we may be able to save the planet. Hemp absorbs huge amounts of carbon dioxide that are said to contribute to global warming. The paper we largely use today is still a chemical pulp paper made from trees, and it contributes to levels of carbon dioxide without re-absorbing, leaving the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
In light of the disappearing forests in the last 60 years just to meet our present methods of producing paper, hemp, the “illegal” solution to our global warming problem, could go a long way in saving us. Green is good, hemp is great, and the newspaper business won’t run out of paper.

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