Hemp’s uses are extremely diverse! From clothing to food to skin care to paper, hemp is a better alternative, both economically and environmentally. Hemp paper is a great example of this, as it offers much more durability and sustainability than tree-based paper. Here’s how hemp paper and tree-based paper compare:
Hemp paper is easier to produce: Hemp contains a much lower amount of lignin than wood, which is a compound that keeps plants rigid, so it is easier to break down into pulp to create paper. Also, it has a higher concentration of cellulose than wood does, which is the primary ingredient in a paper (85% in hemp and 30% in wood).
Further, hemp paper is naturally much brighter than tree-based paper, so the paper does not need to be chemically bleached. The tree-based paper uses chlorine bleaching, which releases a toxin called dioxin into the air.
Hemp paper can be made with soy-based binders rather than chemical binders that release formaldehyde, a chemical harmful to the environment and to humans.
Hemp paper is higher quality: Hemp paper is more durable and holds its color and texture much longer than tree-based paper. This quality is what made hemp paper so popular pre-1900’s (before its farming was outlawed in most of the United States) when it was often used for the pages of the bible. In fact, the world-famous Gutenberg Bible is comprised of hemp paper. Also, since it is chemical-free, hemp paper does not irritate or bother the skin.
Hemp paper is more environmentally friendly: Hemp paper has a myriad of environmentally sustainable qualities. Firstly, hemp paper can be recycled 7-8 times, while tree-based paper can only be recycled 3 times. Also, the plants themselves grow much more quickly and densely than trees: one acre of hemp can produce the same amount of paper as 4 to 20 acres of trees in a twenty year period.
On a grander scale, transitioning over to hemp paper will help reduce the negative pollution and environmental effects of producing tree-based paper. These effects include deforestation, which wipes out entire species and ecosystems. Beyond that, trees are necessary to maintain appropriate levels of carbon dioxide in the air and keep pollution at bay. Further, switching to hemp paper eliminates much of the toxins that are released in the process of creating tree-based paper, lessening the impact of pollution.