1MW Guide to Sustainable Fabrics – HEMP

Susta-Style by Bronte Hogarth

We know it can be difficult to understand exactly what sustainable fashion means, and the material your clothing is made from plays a BIG role in it’s environmental impact! It’s hard to know which sustainable materials to look out for. The Susta-Style 1MW Guide to Sustainable Fabrics series is looking at the most important sustainable fabrics in use today, and also the fabric innovations that lie ahead for the future.

Hemp is our sustainable fabric this week.



Industrial Hemp is a natural fiber, the cousin and legal form of cannabis. It’s one of the oldest fibres known to man, with a history stretching back ten thousand years. It has an outstanding ecological profile, and can be used for many different purposes from making textiles, to alternative forms of plastic, body care, and even hemp foods. When worn, it protects from UV-radiation and proves to be robust and durable. At the same time it has a very special feel to it and is a little bit heavier than cotton.

Hemp production systems:

Hemp production requires little water, plant protection or pesticides to grow.

  • It grows very fast and the fibers are very resistant to tearing. Using hemp products can take pressure of forests.
  • Hemp is a replenishing plant for the earth. It re-nitrogenises the soil after harvest, and it’s good at aerating soil.



Did you know? Australia is the only developed country that bans the consumption of hemp-based food. Even in the US, where the growing is banned in some areas, it can still be eaten.

Hemp is so versatile in part because it can be grown for either seed or fiber. The seeds yield milk, oil, and other food products, and are particularly popular among vegans. The fiber is used for paper and clothing. Sailors have been using hemp rope and sails for centuries.

What to watch out for:

Overall, Hemp growing is easier on the environment than cotton, considering it’s superior on water and land requirements. It does however require more energy to grow than organic cotton, however only slightly more, and when you get to the processing stage of fabrics, it is far superior to organic cotton in ecological terms. Advocates assert the plant has many sustainable solutions to help reverse global climate change because of its varied uses, with more being discovered all the time.

Look out for next weeks Susta-Style post on Organic Linen.

Don’t forget to head over to our website! We are daughters, mothers, sisters and grandmothers getting on with practical climate action to live better for us and the planet. Join the movement at www.1millionwomen.com.au

  • Susta-Style is a weekly post on sustainable fashion, shopping and design.

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