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Hemp is one of the oldest and strongest natural fibers. Its existence dates back as far as 2000 B.C. Our first American flag was sewn from hemp fabric, and many of the first wagons headed West were covered with hemp canvases. Hemp fiber is harvested from the large annual plant, Cannabis Sativa. This industrial hemp has negligible alkaloid content and cannot be used to make drugs. There are countless other uses for the hemp plant, from paper to food products.
Hemp is one of the easiest and most abundant crops to grow. It is resistant to insects, making pesticides unnecessary. It grows so vigorously that fertilizers are not needed. And, if that were not enough, hemp produces at least three times more fiber per acre than cotton plants.
Hemp fabric has many wonderful qualities. Hemp’s breathable, porous nature allows trapped air to be warmed by the body, making these garments naturally warmer in colder weather. Yet this same breathability as well as natural absorbency allows it to be very comfortable during hot summers. Hemp clothing is also very durable and weather resistant, due to hemp's UV and mold-resistant qualities. In addition, hemp fabric softens and gains a nice drape with each wash—it wears well! These and other attributes make hemp clothing an excellent eco-friendly choice.
Today, hemp is harvested throughout Europe, Russia, China, and Canada. In the United States, each year brings us closer to the legalization of hemp farming. As our society comes to terms with the downside of tobacco, farmers who grow tobacco want—and need—another option. Growing industrial hemp would provide a viable and profitable alternative for thousands of American farmers. We are excited about the possibility of making more eco-friendly apparel from this natural fiber as well as helping to save farmland.
Back in 1997, we made our first organic cotton T-shirt. Today, organic cotton is virtually in every product we make. It’s a natural match for our eco-friendly clay dyes, helping us create clothing that has the smallest possible impact on our environment. We work with knitters in the United States and Canada to source our certified organic cotton fabrics.
Organic cotton is grown using different methods than conventional cotton. To be considered organic, growers, producers, and manufacturers must follow strict guidelines outlined in the Organic Foods Production Act. Everything about the process, from the soil the cotton is grown in to the way that it is harvested and processed, is inspected carefully. If any of the guidelines are not met, then the cotton cannot be certified as organic.
The main benefit from growing cotton organically is that there are fewer chemicals released into the environment. Research has proven that human exposure to harsh chemicals such as pesticides can cause headaches and nausea. Prolonged exposure can cause more serious illnesses such as cancer, or problems with our hormones, nervous system, reproductive system, and immune system.
Organic cotton is also a good choice for people with skin allergies or irritations because there are virtually no chemicals involved with the growing of the plant or the production of the garment.