British company Vitality Hemp is working to embrace the environmental and economic potential of the hemp industry.
The British hemp industry is expanding into a new frontier. We have a choice about the kind of world we want to live in: a world of endless, environmentally destructive consumption, or a world where consumption doesn’t overwhelm the ecosystem. The agricultural sector is one of the guiltiest parties contributing to climate change, emitting almost 25% of the world’s carbon. As the atmosphere traps more and more heat, the resulting changes in our ecosystems affect our ability to grow key life sustaining crops. The way we produce our raw materials does not need to pose a threat to our planet’s wellbeing.
Our agricultural practices can play a mitigating role in the climate crisis: by adopting regenerative agriculture, we can harness farming methods that actively pull carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and restore soil health.
Regenerative agriculture is a planet-sustaining method of production; and hemp is unique in its ability to harness this. As an industrial crop, hemp can help to meet global demands for consumer goods while actively restoring environmental equilibrium.
The benefits of embracing industrial hemp:
- Hemp is a powerful carbon sink. The European Industrial Hemp Association’s (EIHA) ‘Hemp Manifesto 2020’ report estimates that hemp can capture up to 13.4 tons of CO2 per hectare, making the crop as efficient at sequestering carbon as the same size of tropical forest! When the end product is used for hempcrete, a bio-composite alternative to concrete, it isn’t just carbon neutral – it’s carbon negative.
- Hemp is a resilient, fast growing crop that grows in a variety of climates and soil types. It requires few resources to grow and is naturally resistant to many pests; and as a result, can be grown without the use of harmful pesticides.
- When used as a break crop in commercial agriculture, hemp restores soil health and improves the yield of subsequent crops. This boosts food security and the economic potential of effective land management.
- Late blooming flowers attract pollinating insects; one out of every three bites of food – and our fragile ecosystem – are dependent on pollinators. A leafy canopy supplies a natural habitat for various species, contributing to the impressive overall biodiversity net gain from industrial hemp.
- Hemp provides new long term economic streams, with potential uses ranging from healthy building materials to bioplastic production. Embracing this crop can revitalise previously struggling rural areas and industries.
- All parts of the plant can be utilised for environmentally friendly products and technologies; there are literally tens of thousands of applications. Current research includes developing hemp derived bioplastics and sustainable alternatives to graphene. Our world can be rebuilt on hemp.
A greener nation
Hemp is a political plant: it possesses the immense potential to help the British government reach its sustainability goals (in alignment with the Paris Agreement, the UK has pledged to produce net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050); and yet it is still erroneously viewed with distrust. The outdated classification of hemp as a Schedule 1 narcotic is a barrier to harnessing its environmental and economic potential; many policymakers and farmers are unaware of the benefits of growing hemp and the clear distinction between hemp and the rest of the cannabis family (hemp being a non-psychotropic variety of cannabis, containing less than 0.2% THC by definition).
Despite these barriers, hemp has a promising future in the UK. Existing hemp farmers are increasing their acreage year by year, while more newly licensed growers are working with hemp than ever before.
Vitality Hemp: a British hemp brand catalysing change
At the foothill of the South Downs National Park in Sussex, England, Vitality Hemp grows Finola, a variety of hemp perfectly suited to the cool Northern European climate. Vitality Hemp is a small business taking on a monumental task: pioneering ethical manufacturing in the UK.
Founded by Nathaniel Loxley, who also co-directs the British Hemp Alliance (BHA), Vitality Hemp has been growing and manufacturing hemp since 2015. Working closely with the BHA, a network of businesses, organisations and individuals, Vitality Hemp helps to push the industry to its environmental and economic potential. The alliance educates and lobbies for systematic change in legislation surrounding hemp in the UK; and joins forces with the likes of Cranfield University in order to build the sector on a robust, data-driven foundation.
Intertwining provenance, craftsmanship and science, Vitality Hemp creates thoughtfully designed, effective products. Every part of the plant can be used to make environmentally friendly technologies; and at Vitality Hemp, the focus is on the home. By partnering with research organisations, industry bodies and artisan creators, the brand innovates and produces essential home living goods from the world’s most resourceful plant. Everything is 100% natural, non-toxic, and designed to help build a healthier world.
The power of hemp in a pandemic
The Covid-19 pandemic of 2020 has transformed the world. The general public now navigates life under threat of a novel virus. In March, as the world slowed down to a near halt, a dramatic drop in air pollution and carbon emissions gave humanity a glimpse into a cleaner environment. Our homes became our sanctuaries as self-isolation took over as the new social norm. This growing shift in public consciousness opens up avenues for exploring greener living within the home.
Source: Medical Cannabis Network