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CBD and sustainability


An article by Dahlia Owusu

CBD and sustainability: from hemp seed to CBD oil in an environmentally friendly way

 

For years, sustainability and environmental protection have been a topic that have gained more and more and more importance in the public eye, and their influence on national and international politics is growing steadily.

We are all aware that we can make a contribution to change through sustainable consumption, and it is becoming easier and easier to make our lives more sustainable. This also applies to CBD products.

Although your CBD oil or your CBD bath bomb doesn’t have that much to do with organic farming and environmental protection at first glance, in the following you will find out how sustainability and CBD belong together – and what constitutes sustainable CBD.

 

Hemp: a sustainable superstar

As you (probably) know, CBD is a cannabidiol that is extracted from the hemp plant. That means, the first aspect that is important to sustainable CBD is how exactly the hemp is grown. Originally from Asia, hemp has been widely used as a useful plant around the world for thousands of years. This is mainly due to its resistant fibers, because hemp was primarily grown for textiles and ropes.

But hemp can do even more: before paper was made from trees, hemp was often used for it. However, with industrialization, hemp lost its popularity and cotton gradually gained the upper hand for the production of textiles.

In addition, hemp was classified as a narcotic drug in the 1930s and hemp cultivation was banned in Germany in 1982.

Although industrial hemp hardly contains any THC and therefore cannot induce a state of intoxication, it has also fallen under this anti-drug law. This law expired in 1996 and German agriculture is only now in the process of learning to appreciate the positive properties of the plant again.

In addition to its versatility, hemp has the property that it grows tall and densely. This is a dream for all farmers, as the plant does not offer the weeds enough space or light to grow. So it’s whether organic or not, hemp makes it easy not to use pesticides. In fact, more than 50% of the German hemp land was organically farmed in 2017; an aspect that’s possible in few other crops.

 

Sustainable CBD extraction?

Even once the hemp has left the field, the efforts towards sustainable CBD products continue in the form of extraction, which takes place after the harvest. There are many different methods of extracting CBD from the hemp plant, such as with ethanol or hydrocarbon.

The most common variant, however, is CO2 extraction. But don’t worry – CO2 is not a factor in climate change in the laboratory. On the contrary, this method is very environmentally friendly. But what exactly happens during CO2 extraction?

A so-called extraction machine is used for industrial extraction. Inside it, the parts of the plant are heated, while the CO2 is cooled to around -56° C. Pressure is then exerted on the CO2, which causes it to enter what is known as a supercritical state. This means that it is in a gaseous and liquid state at the same time.

In the next step, the supercritical CO2 and the plant parts are brought together and the CO2 releases the cannabinoids from the plant.

While the extracted substances are collected and discharged, the CO2 is returned to its original state and can thus be used several times. This method is also used to extract caffeine from coffee beans and is known to be particularly environmentally friendly.

 

Sustainability on the road: from the lab to the store

After the CBD has been extracted, the question of sustainability still isn’t settled. Distribution and trade should also make every possible effort and meet sustainability requirements. That it is possible to grow hemp organically and to produce CBD sustainably is all well and good, but what is the environmental balance of the product if it first has to be shipped internationally?

You guessed it: focussing on local goods is very important here, too. The good thing about hemp is that it is a relatively undemanding plant and can therefore grow effortlessly in many locations.

The images of the marijuana plantations under artificial light that you might know from TV have little to do with the cultivation of industrial hemp.

With the laws on the cultivation of industrial hemp, which are becoming more and more liberal, it has become easier to produce CBD regionally in Germany and across the EU, thus promoting the sustainability of CBD products.

 

Environmentally friendly packaging

By now, most of us know that we should avoid using single-use plastic. It is not for nothing that the federal government passed a one-way plastic ban on 3 July, 2021. While there is still no one-size-fits-all substitute for single-use plastic, there are at least some alternatives and things to look out for when buying sustainable CBD.

The good thing about CBD oil, for example, is that it is super easy to fill into glass bottles. CBD flowers are also often sold in jars that can either be recycled or reused at home.

Fortunately, you don’t have to worry much about packaging at Tom Hemp’s: most of our products are sold either in jars or in recycled ecobags – have a look at our CBD flower or CBD Hash categories for this.

On this topic, hemp once again proves its versatility, because bioplastics can also be made from the hemp plant, creating alternatives to certain types of plastics. One polluting factor in the production of artificial plastic is that a large part is still made from petroleum.

In order to extract oil, environmental protection is often put on the back burner: forests are cleared, or the seas are drilled to get to the liquid gold. But these are not the only effects on the environment these practices have.

There are many different types of plastic that often need to be mixed together to create  a specific shape. The problem with such plastic mixes is that they cannot be recycled. During the recycling process, plastic is shredded and melted down in order to re-form a plastic product.

But that only works with individual types of plastic: not with a mixture. A large part of our plastic waste is therefore can’t be recycled and ends up in the oceans via detours, or is incinerated, releasing greenhouse gases. In short: those of us who believe in sustainability should stay away from plastic.

The alternative is called bioplastic, and the good thing is that you can make it from hemp!

 

Bio plastic: the sustainable alternative

The term bioplastic refers to biologically produced or biodegradable plastic – sometimes both, or sometimes just one of the aspects is meant.

In addition to petroleum, plastic can also be made from cellulose, among other things: and hemp has more than enough of that. Cellulose is part of plant cell walls and is therefore completely organic and degradable. Because hemp grows so quickly, it is well suited to extract cellulose.

Provided that it is not mixed with harmful additives, this type of plastic is relatively uncomplicated to break down in nature.

Of course, Tom Hemp’s also has products made of hemp plastic ready for you, such as the Santa Cruz Shredder x Hemp Grinder. It’s 100% biodegradable and therefore the perfect sustainable accessory.

 

Sustainable CBD? You bet!

To summarise: from sowing hemp seeds all the way to the final CBD oil it a long way, on which sustainability can be a central focus, or not.

While you as a customer can decide whether you want to shop in a resource-saving manner or not, it is also the responsibility of the provider to offer enough environmentally friendly alternatives.

The range of sustainable CBD, from hemp seeds to the final product, is growing and growing, and opportunities to consciously enjoy CBD are increasing.

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