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All you need to know

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The non-profit association Vesti la natura provides several free guides specially created to promote the use of low environmental impact materials among consumers and entrepreneurs

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What is Hemp?

La hemp is a natural textile fiber extracted from the homonymous herbaceous plant of the cannabis sativa species, a plant that blooms in areas with temperate climates (such as Italy). The collection of fibers extracted from the hemp plant is considered very high yield compared to others natural fibers (with the same hectares of cultivated land). Together with kenaf, linen e ramia it is part of the raffia fibers.

One of the main reasons why we define hemp an ecological textile fiber is that it does not require pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers during its cultivation: it attracts few parasites; has a very high density per square meter; reaches heights of up to 7 meters in a few months.

Textile hemp it has been used in dozens of different sectors since the first civilizations that appeared in Asia, the Middle East and China. Hemp is used to make paper, ropes, cloths and sacks, automotive components, and of course clothing and home textiles.

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Hemp plant

La textile hemp plant it can be grown on a wide range of soils, but tends to grow best on those that would produce a high yield of maize. The best climates for cultivation are warm tropical areas, or with a moderately cold / temperate climate, better if the soil is well drained, rich in nitrogen and poor in acid.

Hemp plant

La textile hemp plant grows rapidly and has a high yield of fibers extracted per hectare of cultivated land, think that it can produce 250% more than textile fibers compared to cotton and 600% more than linen (for the same land used).

Strong hemp roots could penetrate 3 meters or more underground, anchor and protect the soil from runoff, build and preserve subsoil structures similar to forest roots.

This wonderful plant leaves the soil in excellent condition for any subsequent crops, does not deplete the soil, rather, it adds organic matter to the soil and helps it retain moisture.

Advantages of the hemp plant:

  • Respect the land where it is grown.
  • It does not require pesticides and fertilizers.
  • It uses less soil than other plants for textile fibers.
  • It needs little water.

We love the hemp also for the historical tradition linked to this plant, but we immediately clarify the most discussed topic:

Difference between hemp, cannabis and marijuana

These 3 terms are synonymous, so there is no difference in talking about one and the other.

Hemp rich in the hallucinogenic substance called THC comes from the same family of plants used to produce it textile hemp, as well as hops used to make beer for millennia, but the one we're talking about on this page is a different hemp variety.

While hallucinogenic hemp contains between 5% and 10% THC, the textile hemp contains a maximum of 0,3% THC.

Hemp seeds

Hemp seed is mainly used in dietary products. Hemp seeds are generally darkened and used in a variety of ways, they can be eaten raw, ground into a meal, made into milk, and even used to make protein powders.

Hemp seeds can be squeezed and made into oil. Hemp seed oil can be used as a salad dressing, in paint, as ink, and is also a key ingredient in many body care products (cosmetics).

Canada is the largest producer of hemp seeds with over 84.000 acres for cultivation. Most of the hemp varieties grown in Canada are called Finola. Finola hemp is known to produce a greater quantity of seeds than its cousins, but it is a very short plant and therefore is not used to produce textile fibers.

Hemp, an opportunity for the environment (video)

Hemp Textile Fiber

The processing of the hemp still today it requires a lot of "manual" work, this entails great advantages for the environment, and the fact that many chemicals are not needed makes its sustainability even more concrete than other natural fibers.

Colored hemp fabrics

La hemp together with jute and linen, it is one of the few fibers that can be defined ecological even when it does not have textile certifications.

La textile hemp it is often used by fashion brands that follow the movement of sustainable fashion, especially to make bags, shoes, wallets, backpacks and other fashion accessories, but also men's and women's clothing, such as jackets, polo shirts, trousers and dresses.

The use of hemp in fashion this is nothing new, this textile fiber has been used for thousands of years: materials obtained from hemp have been discovered in tombs dating back to the year 8.000 BC

Thanks to nuove technologies for maceration and processing of the hemp plant stems (developed in the 80s) the hemp fibers produced are soft and shiny, and it is possible to make really fine fabrics with hemp.

Many consumers look for comfort and longevity characteristics when choosing a garment, so that the high abrasion resistance, and the ability to be mixed with other textile fibers, make the hemp fabric a truly competitive choice.

The great qualities of the hemp fabric have been recognized for thousands of years of applications.

The texture of the pure hemp fabrics is reminiscent of that of linen, attracting the eye with its subtle variations in thickness. It is a versatile fiber and can be mixed with other fibers to create different looks, making it even more comfortable at the same time.

The versatility of the hemp fiber it is truly stunning: hemp fibers can be woven on their own, but when mixed with other fibers it is possible to weave strong and light canvas, in an unlimited range of colors and finishes.

Characteristics of Hemp

Fabric Quality:

The qualities of the fabric may vary based on its blending with other fibers. Example: with Elastan or Lycra you gain in elasticity.

  Does not shrink / discolor
  Quick drying

Ecological Characteristics:

The ecological characteristics of the fabric may vary based on textile certifications or blending with other fabrics.

  Natural - Artificial - Synthetic  
  No GMOs
  Natural raw material
  Recycled raw material
  Mechanical extraction
  Chemical extraction
  Energy saving
  Sustainability class  

Textile Certifications:

The certifications that can be assigned to the fabric, but which vary according to different factors: manufacturing company, fashion brand, blending.

Global Organic Textile Standard
Organic Content Standard
Global Recycle Standard
Second Life Plastic
Animal Free
Fair Wear Foundation

This card can only be found on www.vestilanatura.it

Hemp clothing

Who thinks ofhemp clothing he could imagine rigid, rough fabrics, not very suitable for clothes, perhaps more suitable for making wallets, hats, bags and other fashion accessories. There is a foundation of truth in this thought, but this is not always the case.

Thanks to the processing techniques we have talked about, it is possible to buy hemp clothing in the form of elegant women's dresses, trousers or polo shirts.

The difficulty remains in finding it in classic clothing stores: it is easier to find hemp tailored garments, perhaps mixed with other natural fabrics such as organic cotton. But in recent years the request of the textile hemp it has greatly increased, also thanks to the work done by Social Networks and TV which push more and more people towards “conscious” consumerism.

Buy Hemp products

A showcase where you can find Sustainable, ethical and cruelty free fashion brands guaranteed by the supervision of our association:

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Advantages of Hemp

  • Hemp is one of the most ecological fabrics in the world. Its cultivation does not require chemicals, controls soil erosion and produces oxygen. It is a resource rinnovabile that can be grown in as little as 100 days and is the most versatile fiber in the world as well as being biodegradable.
  • The tensile strength of hemp is eight times that of cotton, which explains its historical use in sails and ropes for the British and American navy. Hemp is in fact an exceptionally resistant and long-lived fabric.
  • The hemp fabric is hypoallergenic and non-irritating to the skin, some tests indicate that it is able to kill the staphylococcus and other bacteria that come in contact with its surface.
  • Hemp clothing in contact with the skin can give the feeling of flannel, although it may seem a little stiff and scratchy, it becomes progressively softer after a few washes.
  • Hemp is an interesting choice for the summer, it protects from the heat by being very breathable, it is recommended for hot and humid climates, as it resists mold and readily absorbs moisture, it also protects from the sun thanks to its qualities of reflection against the rays UV.

Disadvantages of Hemp

  • Like linen, it wrinkles easily and can feel somewhat stiff. The ideal is to choose a fabric mixed, for example with organic cotton, to obtain a softer and more pleasant fabric in contact with the skin.
  • The cost of processing is very high, far higher than that of cotton and linen, which is why it is hardly found in clothing stores.

Maintenance of ecological fabrics

How is hemp washed?

The environmental impact of laundry detergents and household cleaners is devastating to our planet, so we highly recommend using ecological detergents.

The most appreciated characteristics of the fabric obtained with hemp concern the remarkable resistance to use and time, which indeed increases its softness. To wash hemp properly, it is therefore advisable to follow a few simple rules, to avoid damaging a highly reliable fabric that favors the perspiration of the skin, as it is able to absorb liquids.

How to wash hemp fabrics, respecting the fibers without forgetting the environmental impact?

A necessary premise concerns the fact that, to wash hemp and keep its properties unaltered, it is recommended, as far as possible, to wash it by hand, because the washing machine risks damaging its fibers. For the same reason, it is highly not recommended to use the dryer, favoring exposure to the open air or, if this is not possible, indoors with sufficient ventilation.

Hemp, in fact, if placed in humid environments, tends to produce a not very pleasant smell, which could remain on the fabric for a long time, even after repeated treatments.
The first step is to read the label inside the garments, to identify those that, if necessary, need to be washed separately or special precautions.


Fill the basin three quarters of its capacity with warm water and a little ecological detergent, leaving the items to soak for about twenty minutes; to rinse, use cold running water, squeeze gently and hang the hemp garments horizontally if possible.

Machine wash

In the event that washing in the washing machine is necessary, it is advisable to choose a program at 30 degrees, with a not very powerful spin cycle or, if possible, eliminating it altogether. Also in this case, the detergent must be as environmentally friendly and delicate as possible, with minimal foam production. To preserve very delicate items, a tip is to put them in the special linen-saving netted bags before putting them in the washing machine.

Do you want to wash your clothes while minimizing water pollution?

  1. We have selected one of the most sustainable detergent and detergent brands click here to buy an ecological detergent
  2. You could use a Washing Ball to wash without using detergents click here to buy a washing ball
  3. You could use the nuovissimo Ecoegg, a nice ecological egg with which you can do about 720 washes click here to buy the ecoegg egg


Are you looking for more information on hemp? Ask your questions using the form below.

Ask Your Question!
Our answers:

Where can I buy hemp fabric?

Vesti la natura has created a table with more than 40 sustainable materials, their respective applications in the textile sector, and their suppliers (even for small quantities). To access the table we ask you to donate a small financial contribution to our association. Click here for more information.

Is hemp the same as marijuana?

The plant used to produce textile fibers is a variant of hemp with THC (but with a very low percentage of this substance).  

Does organic hemp exist?

Although certification is quite superfluous cotton for this textile fiber, there are some manufacturers who get it. It is therefore possible to find on the market organic clothing in hemp.

Is hemp used only in the textile sector?

The hemp plant is also exploited for the production of seeds, oils, energy, waxes and even fuel. It is therefore used in many commercial sectors.

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