canary loves hemp

The many benefits of industrial hemp begin with cultivation, which takes less water and gives higher yields than any other fibre. It is naturally pest and weed-resistant, requiring no herbicides. Made into fabric, it is strong, heat resistant, has anti-bacterial properties and repels moisture.

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hemp crop in Walpole, UK.

Hemp is grown in many countries, including the UK, France, all over Eastern Europe, Asia and Canada, where in 2015, over 84,000 acres of land were licensed for hemp. In 2014, Canadian hemp seed and oil exports alone were $48 million, which was increasing by at least 50% into 2015 recordkeeping. In spite of the volume of growing, Canada has no textile processing facilities. 100% of hemp fabric in Canada is imported.

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all you’ll get from smoking these hemp plants is a headache

Hemp has numerous uses besides textiles and food. Hempcrete is used in construction and for insulation. There’s many personal care applications, and other industrial products like hemp paper.

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from realhemp.com

There’s a big lobby on to legalize growing industrial hemp in the USA.

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spinning hemp into yarn

Hemp is historic technology that actually has a future. If North American hemp fabric is ever available, Canary clothes will be made from it.

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synthetic clothes are filling the oceans with plastic

Today, a CBC News story says the UN International Maritime Organization is reporting microplastics being present in supermarket seafood. Not exactly a surprise. Plastic pollution in oceans and lakes is fast becoming a lot more than sad pictures of animals with plastic rings around their necks.

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The polluting effects of textile and clothing production is an elephant in the room that has been largely ignored, and microplastics are one of the problems, coming not just from factories, but from the wastewater from your own washer. Studies and articles about the microfibre residue from washing synthetic fleece and other synthetic clothing have had almost no effect in addressing this problem. Plastic microbeads found in body care products have gotten much more attention and bans are pending in several countries, including Canada, but not until mid 2018.

Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation published an article in National Geographic last year, with a map showing the highest concentrations of microplastics on shorelines.

In The Guardian, ecologist Mark Browne discusses how 85% of the human-made material found on shorelines were microplastics linked to synthetic clothing. Here’s some microfibres collected in the Gulf of Maine:

Browne also describes the almost complete lack of interest from clothing manufacturers in addressing the problem, including many greenwashers who tout themselves as “industry detoxers”. Clothing made from recycled plastic is being marketed as “eco-friendly” and “earth saving” by companies too numerous to list.

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While recycling is good, recycled plastic clothes, and plastics in general, are not. In the CBC article, University of Toronto ecologist Chelsea Rochman says, “It has infiltrated every level of the food chain in marine environments and likely fresh water, and so now we’re seeing it come back to us on our dinner plates.” (not mine, as I do not eat fish) Nothing is immune. “Microplastics have been found in oysters and other mollusks both in field research and retail outlets.”

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A Canadian Geographic article cites several studies, including one from Norway, where it was recently reported that scientists from the Norwegian Institute for Air Research and the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research had determined that outdoor clothing such as fleece jackets and Gore-Tex clothing was the biggest source of the more than 100 million particles of microplastic being deposited via wastewater into the fiord at Longyearbyen, a community of 2,000 on the island of Svalbard. One sample from Adventfjorden shows a clam containing plastic microfibres:

Another study was done by a team from the Vancouver Aquarium. In 2015, they showed microplastics were widely distributed in British Columbia’s coastal waters, and that the tiny pieces of plastic less than five millimetres in size had entered the marine food chain through zooplankton, a vital source of food for fish and other marine mammal species. Here’s a tiny plankton that has consumed microplastic.

“This basically told us that humans living in coastal environments are releasing thousands of microplastics through their laundry and waste water,” said Peter Ross, director of the aquarium’s ocean pollution research program. “The problem is world-wide from the Arctic to the Antarctic, and it’s far more extensive than we imagined.”

One solution to this problem is to wear clothing made of organic, natural fibres. Not only is it far less environmentally harmful, from cultivation to processing, anything shed during washing will biodegrade. Another good move is to filter particles from your wastewater.

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the beauty of hemp

Hemp fabric has made a big comeback in recent years. The most historical of fibres, grown and worn all over the world, over time it was replaced, or banned, or both.

Currently, the industrial cannabis sativa l. plant that hemp fabric and other products is made from is banned in the US. Significant amounts are grown legally in Canada, but we lack fabric production facilities so the crops are used in other ways, and exported.

Hemp field in Manitoba
Hemp field in Manitoba

Most hemp fabric in North American garments is made in China or Eastern Europe.

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Hemp has numerous benefits. I love sewing it, and wearing it. It is the most eco-friendly fibre around.

the organic cotton difference

The Basics of Organic Versus Conventional Cotton Textile Production

 organic conventional
Natural, untreated GMO free seeds. Typically GMO seeds, treated with fungicides and/or insecticides.
Healthy soil through crop rotation. Increased organic matter retains moisture in soil. Synthetic fertilizers, loss of soil due to mono-crop culture and intensive irrigation.
Healthy soil creates natural balance. Beneficial insects and trap crops used. Aerial spraying of insecticides and pesticides. Considered “the world’s dirtiest crop”
Natural defoliation from freezing temperatures or through the use of water management for harvesting. Harvesting defoliation induced with toxic chemicals.
For production, fibers stabilized using double-plying or cornstarch. Warp fibers stabilized using toxic waxes.
Whitening with peroxide. Whitening with chlorine bleach
Finished with soft scour in warm water with soda ash, for a pH of 7.5 to 8. Finished with hot water, synthetic surfactants, additional chemicals including formaldehyde.
Fair trade labour standards. No labour standards.