Hemp vs. Cotton

Hemp plants. Photo by Rodale Institute

Why hemp is more sustainable than cotton to farm:

Hemp's sustainability profile is far superior than cotton's. When comparing one acre of hemp to one acre of cotton, there are a number of reasons proving this fact.

Hemp requires one third of the amount of water that cotton requires to grow. The cotton plant requires an enormous amount of water in order to produce usable cotton, and this usable cotton is a mere fraction of the amount of water used to create it. To put it in perspective, one cotton t-shirt requires about 713 gallons of water. Yikes!

During growth, hemp is naturally resistant to pests and does not need pesticides or insecticides. It is also one of the fastest growing crops on this planet, so it does not need fertilizers either. Cotton on the other hand grows slower and is not resistant to pests, so it often requires fertilizers, insecticides, and pesticides to grow at a rate that keeps up with demand.

When cultivated, the hemp's roots detoxify, enrich, and and restore the soil through bio-accumulation and phytoremediation. This prevents soil pollution and erosion and keeps the land healthier for longer periods of time. In fact, hemp was planted at Chernobyl to help remedy the polluted soil and water. Cotton, however, harms, pollutes, and deteriorates the soil. And all those fertilizers, insecticides, and pesticides that were used will end up in nearby rivers.

That one acre of hemp then goes on to produce 3x more fiber than the acre of cotton. Pretty amazing, right?

But what about organic cotton?

Organic cotton farming practices are definitely an improvement to conventional cotton farming, but it is still hindered by its complexities.

The benefits are that organic cotton doesn't use fertilizers or pesticides but instead uses insects to control pests. It also uses less water by using a unique soil rotation system that requires less irrigation. While this leads to healthier crops and better quality cotton, it still comes at a price. 

Organic cotton takes longer to mature and even longer to harvest, which is done by hands rather than machines. Because of its slower growth, it requires using more land in order to produce the same amount of cotton as a conventional cotton farm.

These complexities of organic cotton farming end up making the cost much higher than conventional cotton, and one of the biggest attractions to cotton is its low price. While we believe it's more important to invest in a more sustainable and higher quality product that will last longer, not all textile manufacturers or large fast-fashion brands do. 

Botana Bedding

These facts led us to create our own sustainable bedding brand using 100% hemp fabric. The hemp we use for our bedding is planted in rural, isolated areas on barren ground without using pesticides, insecticides, or fertilizers, and very little water. Our bedding is dyed using environmentally-friendly dyestuffs and produced in small batches.

The needs of our planet can no longer be ignored, and if we're doing our part to move the sustainability needle in some way, that's work we can be proud of.