People say hemp produces more pulp than trees. Hemp is much higher in cellulose, the component used to make paper – and has less lignin (which is removed pre-pulping) than timber. So, is there a way to measure cellulose content in plants? Maybe we can rate the paper according to how much land was used to make it, the effects on the ecosystem and how it effects the atmosphere…for 6 month old hemp plants with higher cellulose than trees, how much trees would be killed for the same amount of let’s say an acre of high fiber cultivar hemp seeded generously. How is the air and soil quality affected, how many animals and have lost their home and food source, how much topsoil may now blow away, and will there be more flooding as a result? There must also be a rating for how toxic the water becomes and what chemicals are used in processing, as they inevitable end up in the water and surrounding land. How does this compare to recycled paper? Is it worth looking into making items such as toilet paper and paper towels from raw hemp, or is continuing to make more of those products with recycled paper a better idea? Eventually, when more hemp paper is available en masse, recycled paper will be made with hemp. The great benefit of hemp is that it is such a strong fiber and can be recycled many more times than tree paper.
Earlier, I posted to Facebook asking people what kinds of hemp paper products people want, and someone mentioned hemp toilet paper and paper towels. That is definitely not fit for artisanal production; however, this would be great to see more hemp paper in the market!! We still need to reduce paper consumption, so get a bidet if that helps. 😉 I have some thoughts and questions about the most sustainable ways to produce paper. After all, before the automatic printing press was invented, most paper was made from rags! For more efficient production, is it better to take a waste product of something that has already been processed somehow, and turn it into paper for certain items (disposable products like toilet paper, coffee cups, food packaging, etc.) The artisan hemp paper is especially good for artwork when it is made archival. Handmade paper is stronger than machine made sheets – the cellulose fibers are not in a straight line, which strengthens their bond. Recycled paper goes through a de-inking process resulting in chemical waste (maybe we need natural non-toxic ink then…) and also there is no CO2 offset to the output from trucks and factories like their is with cannabis paper.
I definitely need to do more research, and if anyone has info or ideas, please comment.
Also, here’s an informative Wikipedia page about the environmental impact of paper: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_impact_of_paper