From the Himalayas to your home – a sustainable alternative to fashion

What if I told you you could wear clothes made out of cannabis?

Oh yes, you better believe it! Although, this is isn’t a recent discovery. Hemp fabric has been discovered in some of the oldest artifacts adorned by royalty and commoners alike. 

The fashion industry is often said to be the second most polluting industry worldwide. With the industry getting a bad rap in environmental responsibility, consumers from the younger generations are looking for sustainable clothing products

Hemp is not only a highly sustainable crop, but it is also carbon negative and happens to be highly durable. Most importantly, everything you make with cotton can be made with hemp, with way less impact on the Earth. 

The science is indisputable. It takes 2,700 litres of water to produce one cotton T-shirt. Cotton accounts for 2.5% of the world’s agricultural land, it consumes 16% of all the insecticides and 6.8% of all herbicides used worldwide. Many of the pesticide-related farmer deaths were from cotton farms too. Hemp (not to be confused with the cannabis plant grown for its psychoactive properties) has the potential to change this scenario. 

Hemp requires almost no pesticides and very little water. The fabric is more durable and can be grown across India. Unlike cotton, which depletes the soil, hemp enriches it. If hemp is allowed to be cultivated, farmers can produce 200-250% more fiber in the same amount of land as compared to cotton. 

The stigma attached with hemp due to it being incorrectly classified as an illegal drug has largely stopped established brands from tapping into its super-plant properties. However, states like Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh have issued licenses to allow hemp cultivation, provided that the THC content is less than 0.3%. This has paved the way for companies like CanvaLoop to create hemp-based clothing in India. 

Shreyans Kokra, the CEO of CanvaLoop explained that for centuries wild hemp has been growing in the Himalayas naturally. CanvaLoop came into the picture when they realized that they could study this hemp and cottonize it to give the Indian textile industry easy access to a natural fabric. “The production of hemp is a highly sustainable process,” he says. It is a highly carbon-negative product because it actually absorbs CO2 from the air. It can be produced with half the amount of water and land in comparison to cotton and has thrice the tensile strength of cotton.

While pure hemp fiber produces a fabric that doesn’t feel quite soft to touch or wear, it can easily be blended with other fibers to overcome such a limitation. At CanvaLoop, Shreyans and the team have created India’s first hemp-based jeans, which have 60% hemp and are mixed with other fibers like bamboo, which still helps the industry’s sustainability posture. Additionally, they are employing more than 400 local farmers in their own hometowns. 

What’s most fascinating about hemp clothing is that it gets better and softer with every wash. All in all, hemp is a magic crop, which has the power to transform our community, the fashion industry, as well as the planet as a whole. 

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