Hemp and cotton, the two most used plants in our history for producing goods such as clothing, fibers, and other materials. But in the last century, cotton has become more dominant and hemp has fallen out of the market and become outlawed for growing. So why is this?
Hemp belongs to the cannabis Sativa type of plant and obviously, that was the reason why hemp became illegal in many countries, it has less than 0.3% of THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) and it can’t get you high, so from this standpoint, making hemp illegal was a crazy idea right? Finally, in 2018 The US government made hemp legal again for growing, the question is, will hemp become more powerful and more used than cotton as it was in the past?
Is it hemp better compared to cotton? Will people use cannabis plant fabric. Will fashion brands such as Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, and Armani? In the next section of the article, you will find out which one of these two plants is better, cannabis Sativa plant or cotton.
Hemp vs Cotton: History of Uses
Hemp has a very strong influence in history, US presidents Washington and Jefferson both grew hemp. Americans were legally bound to grow hemp during the Colonial Era and the Early Republic.
The federal government subsidized hemp during the Second World War and US farmers grew about a million acres of hemp as part of this program. It was the most used material for making fibers, clothing, ropes, beddings, fishing nets, etc. Fibers from cannabis plants were used for making paper and its seeds are a valuable food source (30g of proteins per 100g).
The ban on marijuana has led to the use of less hemp than ever. The fact is, hemp fibers only accounts for around 0.15% of the world’s textiles today. According to the known facts, the production of cotton dates from around 6,000 B.C. it is made from seeds of a shrubby plant that is a member of the Mallow family.
It is necessary to extract sticky seeds from wool in order to process the cotton for spinning and weaving. Cotton became a huge industry, 25 to 40% world’s textiles, and materials are now made from cotton. It has become a well-known material around the world and 100% cotton marks on clothes currently signifies high quality.
Millions and millions of tons of cotton are produced every year around the world. Now that you have a brief knowledge about the history of these two materials let’s compare them.
Hemp VS Cotton: Which is Better For Environment?
Short answer: Hemp is better for the environment and here’s why.
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Hemp requires very little to no pesticides or any other chemicals to grow. Cotton production utilizes over 16% of the world’s pesticides. This is a very serious problem because pesticides are very dangerous for the environments; especially for water and workers who make cotton in extremely poor conditions.
Getting in touch with pesticides and chemicals for cotton production can seriously impair human health. Cotton needs a lot more water for cultivation compared to the hemp. In average, the production of 1kg of cotton in India requires 22,500 litres of water according to the Water Footprint Network research.
According to cottontoday.com, cotton takes 3% of the world’s lands and cotton production provides two crops with the seasonal harvest. Hemp needs around 90 to 120 days to grow, it can produce 2-3X more fiber using the same amount of land. Hemp is naturally resistant to pests due to a small percentage of THC that serves to protect it against pests naturally, hemp destroys all kinds of weeds around. We have a clear winner here. Let’s move on.
Hemp vs Cotton: Water Usage
Cotton: Needs around 10,000 liters of water to produce 1kg of fiber; which is almost equivalent to a single T-shirt or pair of jeans, On average, something less than 2,700 liters of water is consumed by a human being in 3 years.
According to the research, cotton consumes 3% of water used in agriculture. The world’s cotton production, from 1997 to 2001, consumed 227 gigaliters of water, that’s 227,000,000,000 liters.
The conclusion is that cotton needs a lot of water to grow. An alternative is an organic cotton that needs less water but much more land than controversial industrial cotton.
Hemp: In opposition to cotton, hemp needs around 2,300 liters of water for production of 1kg fibers. We can already conclude that hemp has also taken a victory here. Different varieties of hemp require different amounts of water for breeding. That quantity is still much smaller than in the case of cotton. It should be noted that irrigation of cannabis is mandatory unless you plant it by river or stream. Hemp is still a plant, and like every plant it requires water.
Hemp vs Cotton: Softness
Another comparison in our research comes to softness. So which material is softer, hemp or cotton?
Let’s break this down. Cotton is well known as a breathable, durable, soft, flexible and strong material, while hemp is all this but when it comes to softness cotton is a winner. Hemp is a rougher material, although it has all of the above characteristics we can not say that it is very soft, at least not at start.
Hemp material over time becomes softer as you wear it and wash it, and cotton material breaks down over time due to its natural softness, so we can say that cannabis material is more durable than cotton. We should note that there are various kinds of cloth made from the hemp. In order to get it soft at the start, hemp is usually mixed with silk material. This is a perfect combination of durability and soft to touch.
Hemp vs Cotton: Durability
Here we come to durability, you can guess, hemp is more durable than cotton. Here are the facts. Cotton is a soft material and breaks down over time. Both materials are biodegradable, but hemp has much more strength and is much more durable than cotton. A great example here is a hemp rope, which is a reliable partner to a large number of alpinists and is well known for its durability.
Benefits of cannabis Sativa plant over cotton do not stop here. Hemp is much harder than soft cotton, therefore it seems like an ideal material for making carpets, upholstery, ropes, belts, bags, cloth, the list goes on and on due to the huge number of products that can be made out of hemp.
Hemp is also an antibacterial material, it is easy to grow, it keeps heat more, and these are just a few of the reasons why clothing and other accessories should replace cotton.
Hemp vs Cotton: Versatility of Use
Hemp: it has a lot of ways to be used in everyday life. It is estimated that Hemp currently has over 20,000 different ways to be used. Some of the most common uses of Hemp are: making papers, foods, body care products, fabrics, textiles, ropes, even fuels, and building materials.
It can be a good alternative for plastic because it needs around 80 to 90 days to completely biologically degrade. It should be noted that hemp seeds contains omega 3, omega 6 and omega 9 fatty acids as well as nine amino acids and they are full of protein.
Many people do not know, but hemp is an excellent building material, lightweight, waterproof, fireproof, self-insulating, and resistant to pests. An interesting fact is that Henry Ford in 1941 tested a prototype of a car body made of a blend of materials that was 50% hemp plastic.
The body remained untouched after the test impact of the ax, the same blow had damaged the car metal. This combination was proved to be a great idea and a very solid alternative to metal, unfortunately, this project has never come to life.
Cotton: Cotton is also known for its versatility, we all know it is used for making, T-shirt, jeans and socks, but also for making fishing nets, coffee filters. etc.
Organic cotton can also be food. Cotton seed is used in cattle nutrition, and the seeds are crushed to produce oil that is later used for cooking, soaps, emulsifiers, pharmaceuticals, margarine, rubber, and plastics. Cotton is also used to produce goods such as curtains, bandages, swabs, banknotes, cotton buds, and x-rays. So who is the winner in this battle, hemp or cotton? We leave you to estimate yourself. But let us know in the comments section.
Hemp VS Cotton: Pros and Cons
We will list here all of the positives and negatives for both of these plants.
Hemp Pros & Cons
- Need 90-120 days to grow.
- Totally biodegradable.
- Needs 2,300 liters of water for 1kg fiber.
- Great Food source contains fatty, amino acids and high protein.
- Various range of uses.
- Sustainable, durable material.
- Environmental friendly.
- Rich historical use.
- It can be used for medical and industrial purposes.
- It can be grown on every continent besides Antartica.
- It can save trees from deforestation.
- Needs very little or no chemical additives to grow.
- Naturally resistant to pests.
- Naturally destroys weeds.
- It’s not legal everywhere in the world.
- The industry is very small and still in development.
Cotton Pros & Cons
- Natural plant.
- Breathable material.
- Various range of use.
- Soft material.
- It is a flexible material.
- It is biodegradable.
- Huge industry making a lot of profit.
- Does not irritate the skin.
- It isn’t environmentally friendly.
- Expensive for production.
- Needs a lot of land to grow·
- Needs a huge amount of water for irrigation.
- Breeds with chemicals (pesticides, herbicides, etc.)
- Needs a lot of time to grow.
- During prolonged use, it decays.
- Cotton production leaves a real impact on human health due to exposure to chemicals.
It can not be grown on as many continents as hemp. Buy Hemp Products Now
In the new modern era of the industrial revolution, hemp has fallen out of the game in the market. Will it return to the game? Probably, according to Forbes, hemp companies expect a huge increase in demand for products made from cannabis Sativa plant, certainly, we need to raise awareness of people about this plant with very many applications.
Hemp is eco-friendly, durable, sustainable, extremely versatile in comparison with cotton and it can replace a lot of materials which ruin our planet.
That’s why we have chosen to make our products out of hemp, we care about our planet and you should too. Hemp may not be as comfortable as cotton, but eventually, it will become over the years, and not only will it last longer, but will also give a great contribution to our planet.
Now that you know all of the facts when it comes to comparison of hemp versus cotton, feel free to check out our hemp store. Have you ever owned any hemp products? What are your thoughts about this plant? Let us know in the comment section. Stay in touch with us by visiting our Instagram profile.