Hemp already has so many uses that it’s hard to believe there could be more. We’ve seen hemp cars, hemp houses, and hemp fabrics to name but a few. But now, young entrepreneur and product designer Sam Whitten, has found a new use for hemp.
Reporting on Whitten’s discovery, The Scotsman explored some of the uses of this very strong and versatile fiber. Industrial hemp fiber has been used for more than a thousand years. It only recently became prohibited and stigmatized.
Easy to grow
If it weren’t for legislation against it, hemp would be the perfect crop. It grows easily even in soil that is poor or depleted. It doesn’t need much water, and is one of the most eco-friendly crops there is. The plant fixes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere fast, cleans up toxins from soil, and if grown correctly, it doesn’t need pesticides or weed killers.
Hemp can be used to produce almost anything from textiles, paper, food, ropes, paints, and green fuels to medicine and bioplastics. Huge buildings are built using Hempcrete providing carbon-negative housing from a renewable resource.
Whitten is so inspired by hemp that he has designed five different styles of hemp sunglasses which can also fit prescription lenses. It is a world first: a Hemp Eyewear range. The frames are produced through a compression molding process and coated with eco-friendly resin. These shades are not just very trendy, but also strong, lightweight, and waterproof.
Leading edge technology
The £13,000 raised by his crowd-funding campaign will mean Whitten will be able to obtain the machines needed to produce these sunglasses in Edinburgh at his firm’s headquarters.
This technology is sustainable and cutting-edge, turning organic fiber into solid material that is lighter and stronger than carbon fiber. The possibilities are endless, but, most importantly, it is made from a renewable resource. This is very important to Whitten. He wants to raise consciousness about hemp as a renewable resource with huge potential.
Hemp is not marijuana
Sam explains the difference between hemp and marijuana. Both are Cannabis sativa, but hemp is not a drug. Instead, it is an industrial crop. It is used for fiber, oil and as a bioaccumulator, used to draw toxins from damaged soil. It has nothing to do with smoking pot.
Whitten’s long-term vision is to get a license to grow hemp with a friend in Scotland instead of importing the raw material from Eastern Europe, which adds to its carbon footprint. He will continue making trendy accessories, but is looking into producing Hempcrete as a renewable, and sustainable building material. This is part of his five-year business projection.
Hemp is not a drug
Although industrial hemp is cannabis it contains very low levels of THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana that causes the high when it is smoked or heated. Hemp has very low levels of THC, but high levels of cannabidiol, or CBD, which counteracts the effects of THC and is anti-psychoactive. However, Sam will need a license to grow hemp in the UK.
We already love durable hemp fabrics. The clothes made from them are amazingly long-lasting and pleasant to wear. Now, we can team up our hemp fashions with a pair of hemp sunnies for ran uber-cool natural look. Well done, Sam! We can’t wait to get our pair!