Hemp VS Cotton: Which One Will Save the Planet?

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Hunting for a quality hemp-based CBD manufacturer often leads to other questions about plant-based materials. Hemp vs cotton: Could one material replace the other?Should hemp replace concrete? Use hemp for everything, down to your sheets?

If hemp and cotton were in a boxing ring, it’d be like Muhammad Ali going up against Larry King.

So if hemp-based CBD product manufacturers have so much potential, why does cotton sell itself as “the fabric of our lives”?

A Very Brief History of the American Cotton Industry

Cotton has some dark roots in American history. By the 1800s Great Britain, once the U.S.’s overbearing overlord, became dependent on American-grown cotton.

But a major component of what made cotton such a hot commodity was the free labor that came with it.

Slaves were the backbone of the cotton industry and were the main reason plantation owners could turn such huge profits.

It’s estimated that the money that should have been spent paying slaves was equal to 7 times all the currency in the country at the time.

So it’s not that cotton was cheap to produce, it just so happened to be the driving force of slavery in the south.

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And even though George Washington was a hemp manufacturer himself, it wasn’t until recently hemp could be turned into fabric as soft as cotton.

While it may require more specialized equipment than a cotton gin, the special process of turning hemp into fabric has many more applications.

From Farm to Spool

Every US-based hemp manufacturer starts with the same process. Before anything else happens, the plants are harvested with huge specialized tractors.

Now the freshly harvested crop can start retting.

A dry sponge can feel like a small yellow brick when it’s bone dry. But throw it in some water for a few seconds and it comes to life.

Retting does the same for hemp. By bundling the freshly harvested crops and letting them rest in the field for 4-6 weeks they become a warehouse party for bacteria and other microorganisms.

Nature’s de-construction workers break down the hard cellulose and pectins so the bark falls off the inner fiber like the bone out of slow-cooked ribs.

Then, these fibrous strands are cleaned to remove any leftover dirt and bacteria from the field.

From here, the hemp fibers can be used as pulp for paper or other industrial purposes. Turning these fibers into fabric and plastic alternatives takes a very special process known as steam explosion.

Steam Explosion

The home cook knows all about poking holes in their baked potatoes to avoid a mashed potato nuclear explosion in their oven.

This isn’t unlike what hemp fibers go through to create soft fabrics and plastics. By using steam as hot as 400℉ the cells of the hemp fibers explode like popcorn kernels parading about in the microwave.

Nanocellulose

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Nanocellulose can be turned into electronic displays but is so nontoxic and safe to humans it can be used as a food thickener.

The same can be done with cotton, but with a much bigger footprint.

For every 500 pounds of cotton grown on an acre, hemp dwarves it at an astounding 1500 pounds.

And this doesn’t even include the extra pesticides cotton needs not to be ravished by pests.

Cotton also drinks more water than a Saharan camel reaching its first oasis in 300 miles.

Drinking With the Buggies

Cotton is the dinner guest that drinks the entire pitcher of sangria before anyone else gets any. 

Each season, cotton crops drink 50% more water than neighboring hemp farms. It would make sense to grow such a water-intensive crop somewhere with plentiful access to water.

But instead, cotton is grown in some of the world’s thirstiest regions. Egypt, Chinese deserts, California, and Texas are all cotton-growing hot spots.

Pests are another problem for CBD oil manufacturers and cotton farmers alike. Beetles, flies, and other bugs can burrow their way into woody hemp stalks.

But the FDA has approved 10 pesticides to aid hemp farmers in their fight against infestation, and hemp is naturally resistant to many pests.

Planting cotton, on the other hand, is like setting out a buffet for insects. Parasitic bugs love cotton so much, farmers who choose to grow it use 16% of all the pesticides on Earth.

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Pesticides can leak into the water supply causing a slew of other problems. More than 700 synthetic compounds are found throughout America’s groundwater reserves.

“You Got Your Hemp in My Cotton, and My Cotton in Your Hemp”

What happens when hemp and cotton are used together? Because hemp pairs so well with other materials, adding as little as 20% to cotton fabrics can make them last longer than pure cotton.

Levis is a big brand committing to cotton alternatives. Their new “cottonized hemp” uses a patented process to turn hemp into fabric indistinguishable from cotton.

To compound their eco-friendly efforts the hemp crops used for this new line of denim are 100% rain-fed.

Industrial Uses

When it comes to uses outside of fabric, hemp is the clear winner.

From hempcrete to hemp cooking spray, hemp’s few shortcomings as a raw material for fabric are overshadowed by a near-endless supply of other applications.

Private label CBD manufacturers get a lot of media attention, but they’re just the tip of the iceberg.

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Hempcrete is a building material that takes as much as it gives. Meaning it continues to absorb carbon dioxide once in a building.

Concrete produces carbon dioxide at a near 1:1 ratio. For every 2205 pounds of concrete made another 2044 lbs of carbon dioxide go straight into the atmosphere.

That’s not even including the carbon the plants absorb while they’re alive. But why does hemp have what it takes to build a house, but cotton doesn’t?

It all comes back to softness. Cotton may be much closer to becoming a pair of tighty whities straight from the field than hemp is, but the convenience ends here.

By mixing hemp fiber or “hurds” with a limestone mixture, the result is a material rivaling steel and concrete in strength.

Traditional concrete manufacturers have to mine for many more minerals than just limestone. 

Regular concrete is also vulnerable to mold. Its porous surface can feel smooth to the touch, but the microscopic pores are like condos for mold colonies.

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Hempcrete is a chameleon, absorbing excess moisture and releasing it as humidity drops.

So Which Power Plant Comes Out On Top?

Cotton’s luxuriously soft from the fields touch is hard to beat. Even with its high demand for limited resources, cotton’s hold on the apparel world is a hard one to break.

But the question isn’t which one will save our planet. It’s how much can we replace with hemp to offset our carbon footprint.

Comparing cotton’s footprint to hemp is like comparing a Hummer limo’s gas consumption to a bicycle.

Hemp’s lower cost and unlimited potential uses make investing in it a no brainer. Cotton has had free reign for centuries and doesn’t come anywhere near the number of uses as hemp has proven to have in the past 50 years.

Private Label Hemp Manufacturer During the COVID Crisis

It’s irresponsible to not address COVID when discussing any topic right now. Like every other major country, China is being hit hard by the virus.

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The country’s hemp industry is no different. Although China has been a steadfast source of industrial-grade hemp, they’ve just started to scratch the surface when it comes to growing for consumer products.

In those regards, American hemp farmers are light years ahead of their Chinese counterparts.

With travel restrictions and a lack of capital flowing into the industry, there will undoubtedly be shortages and delivery delays.

A US-based CBD manufacturer is a better option not just for patriotic reasons, but the future of sustainable American CBD manufacturers may dwell on a steady supply of high-quality hemp.

Spring Creek Labs owns their farms, labs, and packing facilities. They aren’t waiting for deliveries from the other side of the globe to make their customers’ private label CBD products.

With a low minimum order, they’re a responsible option when it comes to using scarce capital to invest.

Storefronts may be suffering, but experts are confident eCommerce will continue to surge as customers look for ways to reduce exposure to others.

Now is the time to market and build a brand consumers can trust ordering from online. Email Spring Creek Labs now and continue to look to the future and beyond.