Hemp Crops for a Thirsty Land?

Article from Victorian Country Woman, December 2018.

One of the first projects the new Collingwood CWA branch embarked on was making up “Earth Bags”. The bags reflect the importance of sustainability and environmental issues to our members and have been a great hit on our stalls.

Our website dedicates a page to information about the items and we offer patterns and instructions to encourage people to have a go at making them themselves.

We run Earth Bag “blitzes” at the Collingwood Children’s Farm and produce quantities of the ever popular hemp twine scrubbies, hemp yarn dishcloths, beeswax food wrap and newspaper bin liners.

For us, the Earth Bags are not so much about raising money but more of a way to open a discussion about why it’s important to minimise waste and to demonstrate practical and thrifty ways of doing that.

There’s also an important message about the value of hemp as a crop.

It is disappointing to us that we cannot source Australian-made hemp textiles. Our hemp yarn and twine comes from Turkey!

Our supplier, Hemp WA explains its value:

“ – It lasts longer – Hemp fibres are 3 times stronger than cotton and 25 times more durable.

 – It is cooler in summer and warmer in winter –  Hemp provides excellent ‘climate control’ for the wearer with the hollow fibre acting as an insulator, keeping them cooler in summer and warmer in winter. 

 –  It is soft and comfortable – Hemp softens with wearing and washing, without losing its strength.  This means that the more it is worn and washed, it becomes even more comfortable. You can expect to wear out before your shirt does. 

– It is easy care – Hemp fibre also has a ‘springiness’ or ‘memory’ so that creasing is less than other natural fibres and gets less as the garment is used.   

– It holds its shape -Hemp’s superior strength and durability means garments still look good long after their first wear.

– It is healthier – Hemp fibre shape also means that it has improved absorbency and ‘breathability’. Hemp is naturally resistant to mildew, bacteria, and insects.

– It has built-in UV protection – Hemp offers greater UV protection, blocking up to 95% of the sun’s harmful rays.

– It gives stunning print resolution- Hemp has proven it can hold the finest detail when printed, and also gives great results with embroidered designs.

– It is better for the planet – Hemp is grown chemical free, enriches its soil, saves water and produces 2 – 4 times more fibre per area than other sources.”

Perhaps the CWA could explore the value of tapping into this potential industry in our very thirsty country?

Margot Foster

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