Did you know that it takes between 500-1,000 years for plastic to degrade?
Plastic pollution is destroying our planet by the minute. In fact, so much plastic is thrown away each year it could circle the earth four times. And these numbers are on the rise.
In the United States alone, Americans throw away 35 billion plastic water bottles every year. This plastic ends up in the land and the sea, devastating natural ecosystems. Worse yet, this same plastic pollution ends up in our bodies.
It’s estimated that 93 percent of Americans over the age of six test positive for BPA, a chemical in plastic linked to cancer, diabetes, impaired immunity, and much more.
Clearly, plastic pollution is an environmental and health hazard. But what if hemp could help?
The basic building blocks of plastic are cellulose. Currently, cellulose is primarily obtained from petroleum. However, petroleum-based plastics are harmful to human health. Not to mention destructive to the environment.
Hemp, on the other hand, happens to be an excellent source of cellulose and is sustainable.
Here are 7 ways how hemp plastic could change our planet.
1. Hemp plastic is completely biodegradable
One reason plastic is so toxic is because of its long shelf life.
A water bottle may only be used for a few minutes but will take years to decompose. Account for other plastic wares like grocery bags, tupperware, buttons, packaging, electronics – it’s easy to see why plastic pollution is growing worldwide.
Meanwhile, hemp plastic can be completely biodegradable when made with biodegradable polymers. Unlike conventional plastics, plastic made from hemp doesn’t contribute to permanent pollution.
In the right environment hemp plastic takes around 3-6 months to decompose. This is astonishing in comparison to conventional plastics. Hemp plastic can also be recycled indefinitely. While petroleum-based plastic can be recycled, because this type of plastic is chemical-laden, it is a toxic process. Conventional plastics that are recycled still leak harmful substances into the environment such as BPA.
Plastic made from hemp avoids these toxins completely.
2. Hemp plastic is non-toxic
Plastic is toxic to our health.
Conventional plastics contain endocrine disruptors. Endocrine disruptors, such as BPA, interfere with the endocrine (aka hormone) system in the human body. Once inside the body, endocrine disruptors act like the hormone estrogen.
Why is this dangerous?
This hormonal imbalance in the body can stimulate the development of tumors. In fact, endocrine disruptors are linked to birth defects, cancer, learning disabilities, and more.
The dangers of toxic chemicals from plastic don’t end at digestion. Endocrine disruptors can also leach into the soil and groundwater, devastating the natural environment and our health.
Yet, hemp plastic is non-toxic. Plastic manufactured from hemp doesn’t contain harmful endocrine disruptors like petroleum-based plastics. Nor does it release toxins into the air during production.
Why continue to destroy our environment and health when there is an alternative?
3. Hemp plastic could help save endangered wildlife
Plastic is polluting the ocean at alarming rates.
A study by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and Imperial College of London found that 60% of seabirds today have plastic in their gut. By 2050, they expect that number could rise to 99%
How does this plastic end up in wildlife?
When plastic is exposed to sunlight, it breaks down into smaller pieces. These small pieces of plastic end up being ingested by marine and other sea life. As plastic disintegrates, it moves down the food chain.
Animals, like humans, are not designed to consume plastic.
Ingesting plastic can lead to a number of detrimental health effects. Many of which we are likely still unaware of.
Hemp plastic, on the other hand, is biodegradable. It is also non-toxic. Instead of filling up our seas with deadly petrochemical plastics, we could create sustainable initiatives to recycle hemp plastic safely.
4. Hemp plastic is extraordinarily versatile
Did you know thousands of everyday plastic products could be made from hemp instead of petroleum? Hemp plastic can be molded into almost any shape. Uses of hemp plastic include:
This list is only a fraction of plastic products that could be made from hemp. Hemp plastic can replace toxic plastic products in every way. And unlike petrochemical plastics, manufacturing hemp plastic is environmentally friendly and cost-effective.
5. Hemp plastic decreases environmental pollutants
There is more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere today than at any point in history during the last 80,000 years.
Rising carbon dioxide concentrations are responsible for the warming of the earth’s atmosphere. Otherwise known as the greenhouse effect. Much of this rise in carbon dioxide can be attributed to the burning of fossil fuels.
Conventional plastics are made from fossil fuels like petroleum. Therefore, plastic is a big contributor to rising CO2 emissions.
Hemp plastic and products can actually reduce the greenhouse effect. This is because hemp absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and converts it into oxygen. In addition, hemp plastic generates zero toxic byproducts.
Seed to sale, hemp plastic is a sustainable process. This is the complete opposite from the toxic manufacturing process of petrochemical plastics.
6. Hemp plastic is stronger than petroleum-based plastics
Plastic made from hemp is five times stiffer and 3.5 stronger than polypropylene, one of the most common types of plastic. It is also a lot lighter. This makes hemp unique from other manufacturing materials.
Hemp also doesn’t pose the health risks conventional plastics do.
So not only is hemp plastic stronger, it’s safer. Hemp plastic provides durability and strength while also being lightweight.
These features combined make hemp plastic a no brainer. Why risk health and safety when there is a perfectly suitable alternative?
7. Hemp plastic is a renewable resource
From the moment the seed enters the soil; hemp enriches its environment.
Hemp is a sturdy plant with deep roots. As such, hemp helps prevent soil erosion, thereby reducing water pollution. Hemp can also be cultivated in the same soil for years without jeopardizing quality.
Even once hemp is manufactured into plastic, it continues to be sustainable. Hemp plastic is 100% biodegradable. Which means that under the right conditions it will decompose within a few months. (Unlike traditional plastics that take an indefinite amount of time while leeching toxins in the process.)
Conventional plastics are not worth the risk. The alternative is right in front of us.
No other natural resource offers the capabilities of hemp. Start to finish hemp is renewable. While hemp certainly isn’t the only answer to our environmental and health concerns, it’s a start.