Levi’s now blending hemp with cotton for more sustainable fabric
Hemp has half the carbon footprint of carbon, but clothing manufacturers have been reluctant to use it until now.
Levi Strauss & Co. has been working hard in recent years to rebrand itself as a forward-thinking, sustainably-minded denim company. It has done an admirable job, introducing a water-saving finishing process, offering recycling services for old clothes in all U.S. stores, launching a line of jeans made from old fishing nets, and encouraging clients to wash their jeans less frequently (or never).
Now, it has just announced a new collection made from a cotton-hemp blend. The Levi’s® Wellthread™ x Outerknown collection launched on March 4th and is the company’s first foray into using a special kind of hemp that has been “cottonized” to feel like cotton.
George Washington Growing Hemp
Throughout his lifetime, George Washington cultivated hemp at Mount Vernon for industrial uses. The fibers from hemp held excellent properties for making rope and sail canvas.
In addition, hemp fibers could be spun into thread for clothing or, as indicated in Mount Vernon records, used in repairing the large seine nets Washington used in his fishing operation along the Potomac.
At one point in the 1760’s Washington considered whether hemp would be a more lucrative cash crop than tobacco but determined wheat was a better alternative.
Hemp Fibre Paper Resists Decomposition
Hemp fibre paper resists decomposition and does not yellow with age when an acid-free process is used. Hemp paper more than 1,500 years old has been found. Hemp paper can also be recycled more times than wood-based paper.
Hemp fibre-board produced by Washington State University was found to be twice as strong as wood-based fibre-board. No additional resins are required due to naturally-occurring lignins.
Eco-friendly hemp can replace most toxic petrochemical products. Research is being done to use hemp in manufacturing biodegradable plastic products: plant-based cellophane, recycled plastic mixed with hemp for injection-moulded products, and resins made from the oil, to name a very few examples. Over two million cars on the road today have hemp composite parts for door panels, dashboards, luggage racks, etc.
Canada Hemp Interesting Facts
Austria Hemp Interesting Facts
AUSTRIA has a hemp industry including production of hemp seed oil, medicinals and Hanf magazine.
Chile Hemp Interesting Facts
CHILE has grown hemp in the recent past for seed oil production.
Australia Hemp Interesting Facts
AUSTRALIA began research trials in Tasmania in 1995. Victoria commercial production since 1998. New South Wales has research. In 2002, Queensland began production. Western Australia licensed crops in 2004.
Finland Hemp Interesting Facts
FINLAND had a resurgence of hemp in 1995 with several small test plots. A seed variety for northern climates was developed called Finola, previously known by the breeder code “FIN-314.” In 2003, Finola was accepted to the EU list of subsidized hemp cultivars. Hemp has never been prohibited in Finland. The Finnish word for hemp is “hamppu.”
China Hemp Interesting Facts
CHINA is the largest exporter of hemp textiles. The fabrics are of excellent quality. Medium-density fibre-board is also now available. The Chinese word for hemp is “ma.”DENMARK planted its first modern hemp trial crops in 1997. The country is committed to utilizing organic methods.
France Hemp Interesting Facts
FRANCE has never prohibited hemp and harvested 10,000 tons of fiber in 1994. France is a source of low-THC-producing hemp seed for other countries. France exports high quality hemp oil to the U.S. The French word for hemp is “chanvre.”
Germany Hemp Interesting Facts
GERMANY banned hemp in 1982, but research began again in 1992, and many technologies and products are now being developed, as the ban was lifted on growing hemp in November, 1995. Food, clothes and paper are also being made from imported raw materials. Mercedes and BMW use hemp fibre for composites in door panels, dashboards, etc. The German word for hemp is “hanf.”
Great Britain Hemp Interesting Facts
GREAT BRITAIN lifted hemp prohibition in 1993. Animal bedding, paper and textiles markets have been developed. A government grant was given to develop new markets for natural fibres. 4,000 acres were grown in 1994. Subsidies of 230 British pounds per acre are given by the government to farmers for growing hemp.
Hungary Hemp Interesting Facts
HUNGARY is rebuilding their hemp industry, and is one of the biggest exporters of hemp cordage, rugs and fabric to the U.S. They also export hemp seed, paper and fibreboard. The Hungarian word for hemp is “kender.”
India Hemp Interesting Facts
INDIA has stands of naturalized Cannabis and uses it for cordage, textiles and seed.
Italy Hemp Interesting Facts
ITALY has invested in the resurgence of hemp, especially for textile production. 1,000 acres were planted for fibre in 2002. Giorgio Armani grows its own hemp for specialized textiles.
Japan Hemp Interesting Facts
JAPAN has a rich religious tradition involving hemp, and custom requires that the Emperor and Shinto priests wear hemp garments in certain ceremonies, so there are small plots maintained for these purposes. Traditional spice mixes also include hemp seed. Japan supports a thriving retail market for a variety of hemp products. The Japanese word for hemp is “asa.”
Netherlands Hemp Interesting Facts
NETHERLANDS is conducting a four-year study to evaluate and test hemp for paper, and is developing specialized processing equipment. Seed breeders are developing new strains of low-THC varieties. The Dutch word for hemp is “hennep.”
Poland Hemp Interesting Facts
POLAND currently grows hemp for fabric and cordage and manufactures hemp particle board. They have demonstrated the benefits of using hemp to cleanse soils contaminated by heavy metals. The Polish word for hemp is “konopij.”
Romania Hemp Interesting Facts
ROMANIA is the largest commercial producer of hemp in Europe. 1993 acreage was 40,000 acres. Some of it is exported to Hungary for processing. They also export hemp to Western Europe and the U.S. The Romanian word for hemp is “cinepa.”
Russia Hemp Interesting Facts
RUSSIA maintains the largest hemp germplasm collection in the world at the N.I. Vavilov Scientific Research Institute of Plant Industry (VIR) in St. Petersburg. They are in need of funding to maintain and support the collection. The Russian word for hemp is “konoplya.”
Slovenia Hemp Interesting Facts
SLOVENIA grows hemp and manufactures currency paper.
Spain Hemp Interesting Facts
SPAIN has never prohibited hemp, produces rope and textiles, and exports hemp pulp for paper. The Spanish word for hemp is “cañamo.”
Switzerland Hemp Interesting Facts
SWITZERLAND is a producer of hemp and hosts one of the largest hemp trade events, Cannatrade.
Turkey Hemp Interesting Facts
TURKEY has grown hemp for 2,800 years for rope, caulking, birdseed, paper and fuel. The Turkish word for hemp is “kendir.”
U.S.A Hemp Interesting Facts
UNITED STATES granted the first hemp permit in over 40 years to Hawaii for an experimental quarter-acre plot in 1999. The license was renewed, but the project has since been closed due to DEA stalling tactics and related funding problems. Importers and manufacturers have thrived using imported raw materials. 22 states have introduced legislation, including VT, HI, ND, MT, MN, IL, VA, NM, CA, AR, KY, MD, WV and ME, addressing support, research or cultivation with bills or resolutions. The National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL) has endorsed industrial hemp for years.