Welcome to a new series here on the New & Green blog highlighting the fabrics that are used in the wonderful array of cloth diapers that exist on the market today. Many parents at our Cloth Diapering 101 workshops want to know the benefits of using natural fibres and are curious about synthetic fibres, since they make cloth diapering so easy! Thus this series was born – through the year we will highlight several of the fabrics commonly used in the diapers that don your babies’ bums.
Hemp is one of the world’s oldest plants and one of the ones that has been most used through history. It is earth-friendly, versatile, and renewable.
Though it’s a sibling to marijuana, which is grown for the use of its blossoms and leaves, hemp is grown mostly for its seeds and its fibrous stalk, which breaks down easily with very few chemicals during processing. It is known as a very eco-friendly plant, as it grows quickly, requires little water, improves soil nutrients rather than depleting them, is an excellent anti-erosion crop, and is naturally pest-resistant, which eliminates the need for pesticides. It’s also very easily grown without the use of herbicides or fertilizers.
All in all, it is a very “green” crop and can be easily made into thousands of different kinds of products with fewer chemicals than its counterparts. (e.g., in paper making, hemp requires fewer chemicals than wood; in the production of fabrics and other textiles, hemp requires fewer chemicals than conventional cotton; etc…) The end product when made into a fabric is naturally anti-microbial and very durable.
There is a serious downside to hemp, however. While it is now legal to grow hemp in Canada, there are no textile mills able to deal with raw hemp. In the US, not only are there no hemp textile mills, but it’s still illegal to grow the crop. Thus, it’s still necessary and more cost-effective for diaper manufacturers to import finished hemp fabric from other nations, usually China. This certainly increases the “eco-footprint” for any hemp diaper.
There’s also the factor of softness. Hemp is a very sturdy, durable, absorbent material and until recently, most hemp diapers were more practical than swoon-worthy. However, both Annie Marie Padorie of AMP Diapers and BabyKicks have been among the first to use luxuriously soft combed hemp fleece in their diapers – we invite you to pick one up and feel the difference! They’re almost down-right cuddle-worthy…
Mamas (and papas) – what has been your experience with hemp diapers?