Dating back to the Stone Age over 10,000 years ago in China, hemp first laid its roots. With thousands of potential uses from cooking oil, steel replacements and of course clothing - how are some countries using it today?
Once growing all over the UK, with a huge amount of it being used as ship sail and rigging - it was central to the development of the British empire as used in naval fleets. Hampshire was one such focal point, where the county’s first name was ‘Hempshire’.
Since the UK lifted hemp prohibition in 1993, products like animal bedding, paper and textiles have been developed. The UK is also the world's largest producer of legal medicinal cannabis, such as high quality CBD products. The CBD market in the UK is looking to generate £690 million in annual sales in 2021, compared to £300 million in 2020.
We'd love to make our shirts from UK grown hemp fabric but sadly the quality (height of plant) isn't quite there and nor is the milling.
Hemp in France is known and recognised for its use in the building industry. The first construction using hempcrete (hemp and lime composite) wrapped around a timber frame was built in 1989. It’s durable, lightweight, affordable to produce, waterproof, self-insulating, resistant to mold, moisture-proof, highly breathable, and resistant to pests. The material is also ideal for resisting damage caused by earthquakes, floods or other natural disasters.
Nowadays, France is Europe’s biggest producer of industrial hemp, and first in the world in hemp-seed production accounting for 59 percent of the global total. Many hemp growing regions have today been replaced by vineyards and inspired the name of our Bourgogne Red Hemp Shirt.
After a 14-year ban, Germany legalized hemp cultivation in 1996. In recent years, demand for products derived from the plant has increased such as cereals and cereal bars, hemp flours, oils and beverages.
Non-psychoactive foods made with hemp seeds (less than 0.2% THC) are very common in German health food shops. Since the late 2010s, Hemp foods and drinks have become widely available even in normal supermarkets in some cities including Berlin, and health food shops and drug stores have begun selling various CBD products, sometimes including THC-free cannabis.
Cannabis has been at the very heart of Japanese culture for thousands of years. It is particularly important to Shintoism, an indigenous religion of Japan. Thought to be the "way of the gods," hemp was burned to cleanse shrines and to exorcise demons.
At weddings, it was burnt as an invitation to spirits, and many spiritual practitioners, such as priests, wore hemp garbs. It was also given as an offering in certain situations, such as praying for safe travel.
First pioneered in cars by Henry Ford who made a prototype Model T using hemp plastic doors (a blend with plastic) which was proven to be stronger, cheaper and lighter than steel. Working with petrochemical experts he devised an engine that ran on hemp biofuel. Unfortunately the oil and steel barons didn’t take too kindly to this and lobbied the US government to criminalise the growing of hemp due to its links to the cannabis plant.
These are only a few examples of how hemp is used in different countries, over time many uses have been lost or improved upon - and surely many future uses we are yet to invent.