Hemp has so many applications, it’s truly unbelievable. It has the power to transform the world, and completely wipe out countless amounts of unethical industries, perhaps that’s why it’s been illegal for so long? Things are, however changing, and hemp is starting to be used to manufacture a number of things, from cosmetics, to cars, to homes all the way down to toilet paper.
Before toilet paper was mass-produced, rich people would use hemp, wool or lace for wiping. Poor people used leaves, hay, rocks, seaweed, husks, or anything else that they could find lying around. Sometimes they would revert to stepping into the river where going and washing was all wrapped up into one.
In 1857, Joseph C. Gayetty invented the first commercial toilet paper in the United States. His product was made from Manila hemp and the sheets were moistened and soaked in aloe. Sold as medicated toilet paper, they were sold in flat sheets in a 500-pack, priced at 50 cents. For the next 10 years, Gayetty marketed his product as an alternative to using scratchy paper from leaves and catalogs.
In 1867, the Scott brothers took this idea and began manufacturing dry toilet paper from wood chips, a cheaper alternative. There were plenty of trees to use and their idea took off and spread throughout the Western world. Today, ECF, the chlorine dioxide-bleached pulp dominates the global chemical pulp market and forests are rapidly decreasing. While Gayetty had a great idea with using Manila hemp (not related to industrial hemp), the cost of the product was not economically feasible at the time. The Sears & Roebuck catalog was free.
The Scott brothers began to produce toilet paper from trees for pennies, turning this product into a necessity. However, the long-term effect of using wood chips and wood pulp has led to another problem. Hemp pulp paper can be made without any chemicals from the hemp plant’s hurd (pulp). Moreover, the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture found that an acre of hemp could manufacture four times more paper compared to a single acre of trees.
There are multiple brands out there, you just have to do your research!
Here are some more cool facts about hemp:
Hemp produces four times more cellulose fibers per acre compared to trees.
Hemp takes about 4-5 months to grow, whereas trees take 50 – 100 years.
Hemp is the world’s best biomass, as you can grow 10 tons of hemp per acre.
To create paper, you only need the cellulose part of the plant. Trees are 30% cellulose; harsh chemicals are used to breakdown the plant to retrieve this 30%.
Hemp is up to 85% cellulose, almost three times more than trees.
Hemp can be harvested far more quickly than trees can.
Current pulp and paper mills make up 1/4th of all solid waste in landfill sites.
35% of trees are being cut down for paper. Consumption of paper has increased by 400% in 40 years.
In the US, in 2015, 20% of all toxic air waste is due to pulp and paper production.
One ton of paper pollutes 76,000 liters of water or 20,000 gallons.