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Can Hemp save our Forests?
Hemp and Forestation
Johnny Hughes is a freelance writer living in County Longford in the heart of Ireland. After spending 10 years of his life in the corporate world he took a chance 12 months ago and left for good. Now he is embarking on a new journey – a discovery through research & writing. Johnny is taking a look at the problems of our world and how Cannabis Sativa L and Industrial Hemp can hemp solve those problems.  Johnny first appeared on LeafScience with his “Cannabis and … ” Series which was hugely popular 


Johnny can be contacted on twitter @johnnyhughescbd


Air for sale?

Many years ago, my grandfather, watching my father drink water from the tap remarked: “One day you will have to pay for that water”. My father laughed at the silliness of the idea.
The other day after football training, panting for air, I told my son that one day he will have to pay for that clean air he was breathing. My son laughed at the silliness of the idea.
Will we have to pay for clean air in the near future as we now do for water? I believe so.
Let me try to convince you why..

The wood from the trees

Trees are a necessity for life on Earth
Trees are a necessity for life on Earth

It is estimated that around 4 billion trees are destroyed every year for our paper products.
Trees account for around 30% of our planets oxygen needs (The rest coming from oceanic plants who are also in trouble).
Not only do our trees absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen but the leaves also absorb pollutants (carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, and ammonia) improving air quality! Trees conserve water, preserve soil and are home to 70% of the worlds plants and animals.
There is no question that stopping deforestation is imperative but is there an answer?
FSC certified products stop deforestation. Don’t they?
The FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) was set up to give guidelines for managing forests. Seeing a ‘fsc sticker’ on the back of your toilet paper may appease your conscience but it is akin to saying ‘responsible deforestation’. It’s an oxymoron.  The simple fact remains. ‘Managed forests’ in this industry is a pseudonym for ‘destroying forests’. We are running out of trees and this planet and its inhabitants are running out of time.


I have always marveled at the fact that our lungs appearance (bronchi and smaller branches bronchioles) are identical to a trees trunk, branches and leaves! This is beyond coincidence. What are the odds that a tree that breathes in CO2 and releases Oxygen is a mirror image of our lungs that breathe in Oxygen and release CO2. Earth’s population is increasing and so will the demand for oxygen. Yet satellite images show our trees are disappearing. One dire consequence is poor air quality which leads to health problems and in turn to premature deaths. Not to mention Landslides, soil erosion etc. Eventually our once pristine planet will become a desolate, decrepit desert. No need for an asteroid to wipe us out as current industry practices are doing a good job on their own.

Can Hemp help save the world?

Hemp (the Non psychoactive cousin of cannabis) provides 4 times the amount of pulp per year than trees do with 4-7 times less pollution.

Hemp can make upwards of 25,000 products including everything we get from trees. It can provide quality stronger paper, toilet paper, fuel etc. Not one more tree needs to fall.

Hemp Harvesting on the Rhine bank - Hemp production dates back 100s of years
Hemp Harvesting on the Rhine bank – Hemp production dates back 100s of years

Well if Hemp is so good why haven’t we been using it?

We know from archaeological evidence that hemp has been used for thousands of years for fabric and writing paper. Thomas Jefferson famously wrote the first two drafts of the declaration of independence on hemp paper. George Washington grew it. Even the first Gutenberg bible was written on hemp! 12 Hemp was banned at the same time as Cannabis (THC rich) was. This ban spread around the world ‘coincidentally’ around the same time that the petrochemical industry began making products out of oil (Anything oil can do hemp can do better). Whichever history lesson you choose to believe as to why it was banned is in all respects irrelevant as the past is the past. Now we need to look to the future and most importantly the present.

Hemp Production is set to explode back into life in 2019
Hemp Production is set to explode back into life in 2019

Present day hemp growing and uses

In an article in popular mechanics 14 in 1930 hemp was promoted as a billion dollar industry before it was made illegal. Now the likes of Forbes magazine rate hemp as a billion dollar industry. Hemp CBD oil is readily available in most parts of the world. In fact Irish farmers are growing hemp and the industry is getting bigger and bigger. Hemp acreage has increased from 77 hectares to 230 in the past year. China is now growing hemp rather than using cotton ( which poses multiple problems water waste/pesticides).
It is not a question of IF Hemp will become more mainstream but how quickly.

Hemp has many, MANY uses in day-to-day life.
Hemp has many, MANY uses in day-to-day life.


A fleeting choice

In order to make industry grow and adapt we need to persuade, influence and incentivise them. Industry will then provide our shops with hemp products and in turn we will buy them.
The consumer cycle is currently mostly linear. When we move to hemp it will be cyclical. Hemp is biodegradable, renewable and a crop takes 100 days to grow! We can then leave the trees to do what they do best. Clean our air. Nurture our soil. Protect our water. Three things imperative to our survival. Governments could purchase plantations or subsidize farmers who grow forests. The cost of change is far, far less than the cost of doing nothing.

What I am doing

Talk is cheap and action speaks louder than words. A retail outlet in Ireland ‘Aldi’ has a ongoing marketing campaign where it ‘challenges families to save money by switching to Aldi’.
I have challenged Aldi to progressively switch to hemp products and save generations of families. As of writing this Aldi have informed me that they are liaising with their buyers.
One easy step for them is to sell hemp toilet paper which is currently available to them. A company in Ireland sells 80% hemp toilet paper and growing. One small step for hemp. One giant leap for forests.

What you can do

Aldi may or may not run with a random Irish lads idealistic yet grounded idea but they will run with it if it gets traction from YOU.
Hemp will not get you high. But we know acts of kindness which release dopamine in your body will. Here is a handy way of getting that hit.
Share this post..Please. And if you use twitter please spread the word of #hempforchange. It only takes two seconds to share and care. Recently Lidl (another European based retail giant) announced plans to remove plastic waste little by little. Hemp plastic is another solution to that major problem but that is for another article. For now let us all do our small little bit to change industry which will change what we buy in the shops which in turn will help save this planet for the next generation and every generation after.

This has to happen or in years to come you will be buying a loaf of bread, milk and a 2 litre bottle of oxygen. Share and Care. Thank you.


Johnny can be contacted on Twitter @johnnyhughescbd

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