16 billion! That’s how many disposable coffee cups the world uses every year! That’s a lot of cups in a landfill. Could hemp cups be the answer?
What if there were a solution to this massive problem? One that was sustainable and good for the environment? And what if it was a meaningful alternative to literally cutting down the trees that filter the air which we breathe?
Well, there is: hemp cups! Now I know what you are thinking, it’s a hippy thing. Well, it isn’t. It is proven science. They are great alternative products that not only save trees but also provide you with the vessel for your daily cup of Joe!
What are hemp cups?
Sorry to not be more exciting, but essentially they are just cups. They function exactly the same as your ordinary takeaway cup. The only difference is that manufacturers make them with hemp.
Hemp is a sustainable, functional, pliable, and durable material. Depending on which part of the plant you use, you can eat it or create material with it for clothing, rope, fibreboard, and yes, hemp cups.
How do they make them?
Manufacturers make regular coffee cups with paper from trees. Often, they make these cups with recycled materials. That’s a start, but they also line the cups with laminated plastic.
This makes them very hard to recycle. And although in some countries you can have 100% recycled paper cups, that becomes a safety issue when filled with boiling hot water.
In contrast, eco-friendly manufacturers make these cups from hemp paper. The hemp paper comes from fibers in the hemp plant. These fibers are very useful indeed.
Specifically, hemp paper uses the fiber from the center of the stalk called hurd. They then process this hurd with water and create a strong paper. Lastly, the paper is rolled into cups and you’re good to go.
Additionally, manufacturers can make these eco-friendly cups with hemp plastic. This plastic uses plant-based polymers for its structure.
Are there any benefits?
It should be pretty self-explanatory. The sheer number of trees that are required to go into 16 billion cups of coffee per year is mind-boggling. And that’s unsustainable to keep up.
First of all, hemp cups use a 100% renewable material. The crop requires shorted cultivation and growing times, and farmers can use it for a variety of things once they harvest it.
Not just that, but its water-absorbent properties provide natures perfect solution to the takeaway paper cup. Even though it doesn’t have a plastic liner, it doesn’t disintegrate like regular paper.
That’s because hemp fibers are very strong. Literally. They have 8 times the tensile strength as cotton. You can hold your boiling hot drink in a hemp cup without having to worry.
Why do we need hemp cups?
You only need to look at the sheer amount of coffee humans consume on a daily basis. Not to mention the amount of landfill that is being shipped all around the world. We know we need to change something.
Compared to trees, hemp is a great product. First of all, it can provide four times the usable material per acre in the same span of time when compared to trees.
That’s because these plants can grow very close together, and they have good height. They can grow up to 20 feet, in fact. And it almost happens overnight.
You can harvest hemp three to four times per year. Compare that to the growing time required for an acre of trees, and the question is a no-brainer.
Hemp can also grow in a number of different climates. From harsh and arid climates to wet ones, it’s a versatile crop. That means farmers around the world can grow it and use it to support their communities.
No, you don’t have to stop having a cup of coffee. And yes there are ‘keep cup’ alternatives—often made out of unsustainable plastic, mind you—but what if there was a real solution at our fingertips?
Where can I get hemp cups?
Well, there is a solution. You can get your hemp cups from a range of eco-cafes and stores around the country, not to mention online.
But if the wider culture is really going to pick it up, it’s the mainstream coffee shops and café customers that need to demand change. Sooner rather than later we hope.