With the soaring price of lumber, and the unsustainable practices, the time for hemp to provide viable alternatives to common uses of lumber is coming. Hemp has many uses, and as processing techniques become more advanced, more possibilities are revealing themselves.
Below we will take a look at some of the common uses of lumber, and their corresponding alternative provided by a vetted company from our directory.
1. Construction

This is a fairly broad sector, from construction blocks to insulation and flooring. Kentucky based company, HempWood, has made a big splash and advertise the capability for hemp. One section of their websites reads as follows, “Widely considered to be the premier wood substitute with the smallest ecological footprint of any lumber alternative, HempWood is perfect for use as anything that wood can be used for, like construction materials, flooring, and furniture. Mass production and order fulfillment began in the third quarter of 2019.”

There is also Hempcrete, a hemp/lime composite which can replace wooden structures/homes. Canadian Companies Hempcrete Natural Building and Hempcrete Direct are among a few of the numerous construction providers popping up. They advertise hempcrete as energy efficient, strong, durable, earthquake resistant, fire resistant among many other benefits. When people first hear about hempcrete they often immediately start comparing it to concrete. However hempcrete is not meant to replace concrete hempcrete is more likely to replace a conventional wall assembly that is built above a concrete foundation. These companies provide not only hempcrete blocks, but can construct full homes made out of Hemp!

2. Utensils

Many people speak about how paper straws and plates are great alternatives to single-use plastics of the same category, but this is not really a sustainable option. While maybe not as harmful, it is still terrible as it relies on cutting down trees that have spent 5+ years growing.

US Company Hemptensils has achieved FDA approval to sell 100% hemp utensils and straws. One major advantage is shelf-life, where wood pulp paper straws typically have a shelf life of 2-6 weeks, hemp straws typically have a shelf life of 6 months.
3. Paper

This is an obvious one I think we have discussed. It is said that hemp paper was invented around 105 B.C., when hemp clothing in China, was left in water for too long began to form a residue that was pressed to form paper. Today, hemp paper requires advances in processing technology to overcome the legacy infrastructure associated with the wood pulp industry. Growing the actual pulp is a whole different story – where wood pulp typically comes from trees grown over twenty-five years, you could achieve over 200% more yield from hemp in the same dedicated acreage. Furthermore, wood pulp paper can be recycled between 3-6 times, hemp paper can be recycled up to 8 times. Hemp paper also does not brown or yellow over time like wood pulp paper.

While there are many companies that grow trees responsibly, there are a significant amount that take advantage of areas which are off-limits. Aljazeera did a great exposé on how some massive conglomerates like Ikea are destroying forests in Eastern Europe. There is so much investment tied into wood pulp paper processing that it will be tough to turn people to hemp paper alternatives (Much like #6).
Companies like TreeFree Hemp and Printed on Hemp provide hemp based business cards and paper themes direct to consumer, although they are not priced competitively enough with wood pulp paper to truly commercialize. Again, this will happen over time and with significant investment.
4. Musical Instruments
This one requires not only processing advancements, but innovation in composites to ensure full quality and breadth of sound is carried over. Colorado company Silver Mountain Hemp has been producing Hemp Guitars and Amps as sustainable alternatives to wood.

 

Colorado Hemp Company also had this to say about Saxophones, “Hemp also presents an eco-friendly option for saxophone players. According to maker Harry Harttmann, hemp reeds create a natural sound with an “earthy, dark low-end, a full high register and effective altissimo,” and they are more durable than traditional cane reeds.
5. Art

Canvases for paintings are typically 100% cotton, so it is one of the easiest items to replace with Hemp. This taps into the hemp textile industry, which is one of the most widespread and fastest growing for hemp. There are a number of hemp companies providing canvas materials, such as Hemp Basics.

6. Fuel
Probably the area which requires the most research, but the most held back by large players in the game, there is opportunity for bio-based fuels in a plethora of fields. Hemp has the potential to be used as a source for bio-methanol projects like the Maersk ship. Henry Ford even stated he envisioned a world where the energy for cars was made of hemp oil. Hemp.com does a great job of outlining how hemp can be used to make both methanol and bio-diesel.

 

Let us know if you know of any other great companies participating in this sector!