Why Use Hemp Fabric: Organic, Eco-Friendly & More!

Confused about what sustainable fabric to choose? Not sure what the hype is about hemp? Read on to find out more…

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Why Hemp Fabric?
The Hemp shop has the widest range of hemp fabrics in the UK, demonstrating the innovation and versatility of modern hemp fibres.

Due to its historical and biased association with marijuana, hemp was for a long time associated with long haired hippies and/or an itchy sackcloth-like fabric. But no more! Naturally akin to linen in look and feel, organic hemp fabric can be soft like silk, drape like linen and snug like fleece. It is as versatile as cotton and as durable as canvas - all produced in the most sustainable and ethical way possible.

Of all the sustainable fabrics available on the market, hemp is the most eco-friendly choice. Some manufacturers of synthetic fabrics are working hard to improve their carbon footprint, but their reliance on chemicals throughout the manufacturing process, makes them harmful to the environment. Although organic cotton is significantly better for the environment than its non-organic counterpart, neither compare environmentally or in terms of quality, to hemp.

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What makes hemp so great?

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Hemp fabric is biodegradable, compostable and recyclable

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Thermodynamic! It keeps you warm when it’s cool and cool when it’s hot

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It is antibacterial, anti-fungal and anti-allergen

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Hemp’s hollow shafts mean it is breathable and also insulating

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It is the worlds only naturally UV resistant fabric!

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Hemp is an extremely durable, hard wearing fabric. 5x the tensile strength of cotton and 3x more durable. It also gets softer with age.

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Hemp is a highly absorbent fabric, meaning it retains the colour and quality when dyed, much more than cotton or linen

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Strong structure means it doesn’t lose shape easily and having an elastic fibre, results in less creasing

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Not sure how hemp compares to other fabrics?
Here’s why you should choose hemp

Over Bamboo

There are two different types of bamboo yarn available - viscose bamboo and natural plant bamboo. Unfortunately, 99% of bamboo fabric used in clothes production is the viscose variety and only a tiny amount is the pure 'bast' plant fibre version. Viscose bamboo is an extruded fibre made from cellulose extracted from bamboo. This is a chemical process. So although the bamboo plant yields large numbers of fibres and can grow multiple crops a year, unfortunately the amount of water and harmful toxic chemicals required to create fabric from the plant, mean it’s not as eco-friendly as commonly perceived.

Over Conventional Cotton

Like hemp, cotton is a versatile plant. It is used in a huge amount of clothing and fabric production. Unlike hemp, however, cotton is a very intensive plant to grow. It requires huge amounts of water: up to 20,000 litres are required to produce a pair of jeans and 3,000 litres for a single t-shirt. Although it is a natural fabric, because of its susceptibility to pests it requires a huge amount of pesticides and insecticides to grow successfully. These chemicals seep into the groundwater surrounding the cotton plants and then enter the local water system, harming wildlife and plants. They also corrode the soil, making it difficult to grow good quality plants to the same yield next time. They also cause health difficulties to the workers in charge of managing these crops, causing cancers and sometimes death due to the toxicity of these harsh chemicals.

Over Organic Cotton

Although organic cotton doesn’t use any of the harmful synthetic pesticides, herbicides, insecticides or fertilisers that its non organic sister requires, it still requires a great deal of water. However, unlike regular cotton, it is not polluting groundwater, killing local wildlife or harming workers which means it is a more environmentally friendly choice.

Over Synthetics

Synthetic fabric revolutionised clothing production in the early 20th century. The low cost of this cloth allowed for mass produced clothing to be sold for small sums of money, encouraging shoppers to buy more clothes at cheaper costs. This is bad news for the environment because the base fibre of synthetic fabrics such as polyester and nylon is fossil fuel oils, which not only contribute heavily to global emissions, but also require large polluting chemical inputs during processing and finally it creates astonishingly vast amounts of microplastics.

Hemp - A Carbon Neutral Solution

From the moment hemp is planted, it begins a process known as sequestering.

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This means it stores high amounts of carbon from the atmosphere, it absorbs a greater amount than it emits during it's growing cycle.

From the moment hemp is planted, it begins a process known as sequestering.

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Conservative estimates put the ratio of sequestering at about 1.5 units of sequestering to 1 unit of carbon produced during crop cultivation.

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View a selection of our sustainable hemp fabrics here: