My readers may find it strange that I am writing about the use of hemp for paper on my holistic veterinary blog. I will assert that it is not strange at all. Trees are a natural and vital source of oxygen and carbon dioxide removal for countless species of animals include humans. Trees also serve as homes and shelters for countless species of animals including birds, bats, squirrels, and big cats to name a few.
The paper industry globally is responsible for the cutting down of 900 million trees a year (2.47 million per day). What’s more, the conversion of trees to paper requires a large consumption of water, while generating large amounts of air and environmental pollution in the form and chemical bi-product. The paper industry is the 5th largest consumer of energy in the world.
This is as utterly staggering as it is unnecessary with hemp being a far more renewable and ecologically responsible source of material for the manufacture of paper. Prior to the use of trees for the production or paper, hemp fabric was historically pulverized into thin sheets to make the world’s first paper. In fact, 75-90% of all paper in the world was made with hemp fiber up until 1883. The Gutenberg Bible, Thomas Paine’s famous Revolutionary War pamphlets, and the novels of Mark Twain were all printed on hemp paper. Both the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence were drafted on hemp, before being copied onto parchment.
In 1937 hemp was effectively outlawed. Since then, 70% of American natural forests have been destroyed to the extent that in present day only 4% of American old-growth forests remain standing. Incredibly, there is talk of building roads into even that for logging purposes! Hemp growing in fact could completely negate the necessity to use wood at all because anything made from wood can be made from hemp.
Other developed countries are already reaping the benefits of transitioning to a hemp based paper industry. Germany’s largest paper company recently converted two of their mills to hemp-based paper production. The construction costs to convert paper mills from tree-based paper to hemp ranges from $100-300 million, the investment of which would at the same time open doors for new jobs and opportunities to build, install, and maintain new equipment for a far more renewable and responsible paper source.
Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and highly regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms. In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport. He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.