Natural cellulosic fibre.
Hemp is a so called bast fibre and is made from the stems of the hemp plant. It is one of the oldest fibres used for textile production.
Especially during the Middle Ages, before cotton became a mass product and conquered the European markets, hemp was one of the most used and popular natural fibres.
Where it grows / Where it is made
Top countries (2019): China - Canada - United States - France - Chile
T-shirts, dresses, hoodies, underwear, socks, other forms of apparel, and household textiles.
Impact on the environment
None if in its natural color / shade.
More sustainable alternatives
Linen can be a good alternative depending on the application. On a sustainable point of view:
Hemp’s biggest advantage over hemp lies in how it is grown. Hemp grows incredibly easily and is naturally resistant to many pests, meaning that it can be grown successfully without the use of herbicides and pesticides. Flax doesn’t do well when competing with weeds, so in some cases, herbicides are used.
One downside of growing hemp is that it is a very hungry plant and needs a lot of nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium) and water to provide a successful yield. This means when it comes to feeding requirements, flax has a definite edge as it requires little water and nutrients.It is quite rare to find organic hemp since this fabric is already very sustainable.
Since new legislation was passed regarding industrial hemp in 2016, it's now possible to have this crop certified as organic by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). It's also possible to have this plant certified as organic in the European Union, and there are a couple of different independent organizations that certify hemp fabric once it has been fully processed.
For instance, the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) only certifies fabrics that are at least 70 percent organic, and all dyes and other materials used in a fabric must also meet strict environmental standards to receive certification from GOTS. Another organization called Ecocert only certifies hemp fabric with its coveted OCS 100 logo when it contains at least 95 percent organic components.
End of life possibilities
Can be disposed of using all end of life opportunities.
A natural cellulose fibre that can be handled in the same way as other cellulose fibres. The fabrics may potentially be reused or re-manufactured and can also be used as a source of cellulose feedstock for regenerated cellulose products. Being naturally biodegradable, the fibres can be composted if required.
Hemp is a far better option than similar fabrics like conventional cotton.