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The environmentally friendly hemp plant

It was used for a long time in many fields: to produce textiles, paper, ropes and sails for ships in the heyday of Italy’s Maritime Republics like the Republic of Venice. Until the middle of the 1950s it was one of the world’s most widespread crops. In addition to being a textile fibre of historic importance, hemp is now again being used as an extremely versatile raw material that has a low environmental impact to make environmentally friendly materials in potentially strategic sectors. This enthusiasm is fully justified by its properties.

1)    It does not need pesticides or chemical phosphates and fertilizers, so it pollutes the environment less than linen or cotton for example.

2)  It is self-compatible. In other words, it can be cultivated several times on the same land without leaching it, unlike what occurs with flax or cotton, which require annual crop rotation. Hemp even improves the land on which it is grown because its roots release nitrogen and absorb the minerals, which are concentrated in the leaves, without affecting and leaving marks on the fibres as they pass through them.

3)  It grows very fast to a great height in a short time and also in a small space. A large quantity of raw material with a high yield can be thus obtained even on small plots of land. It produces more fibre per hectare than any other raw material: 250 percent more than cotton, with lower water consumption and 600 percent more than flax on the same plot of cultivated land.

4)    It is an excellent converter of carbon dioxide into oxygen, so it reduces the green house effect.

5)    Productively speaking, it is a plant where “nothing goes to waste”. Everything is used, from the top quality fibre to the waste products. Different food products are obtained from hemp: flour, biscuits, pasta, bread and breadsticks and the seeds make a delicious seasoning for salads.

6)  Although the plant prefers mild and temperate climates, it can be potentially grown on any land and it requires much less water than cotton.

7)    It has always been known that hemp competes with weeds. It grows so quickly that almost immediately it starts competing for light and water with the weeds, which are normally defeated.

8)   Requires much less water than do cotton crops.

9)  Does not suffer from late frosts.

10)  The hemp is absolutely one of the best renewable resources: it provides biomass to produce energy, cellulose for paper, textiles and rope, material for green building, food, replacements for plastics and wood, etc. All the products are completely recyclable and avoid wasting resources.