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10 Things You Didn’t Know About Sustainable Hemp Farming

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10 Things You Didn’t Know About Sustainable Hemp Farming
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Many people think of hemp as being a sustainable, environmentally friendly plant. It uses less water than cotton, helps preserve trees, and can even be used to create nontoxic and biodegradable plastics and other products.

But the truth is more complex than these simple statements would suggest. In this article, we'll discuss 10 things you probably didn't know about sustainable hemp farming.


First, let's start with the basics: what is sustainability, and why is it important?

To our team here at Charlotte's Web, sustainability means behaving responsibly to avoid the depletion of our natural resources. It means maintaining an ecological balance. It means acting in harmony with nature to help preserve our precious yet fragile environment to ensure that our grandchildren will have a suitable world to live in, just as we did.

After all, nature provides and does so much for us. The least we can do is pay our dues and reestablish a symbiotic relationship with our environment. It's time we take on the role of stewards and guardians of this beautiful emerald planet.

Achieving that goal starts with education and knowing which agricultural practices help reduce our carbon footprint, and which ones make it worse. So with that in mind, here are 10 things you probably didn't know about sustainable hemp farming.

Nastasic / E+ / Getty Images

#1: Many CBD companies purchase hemp from overseas.

It's vital to know your source. Many CBD companies buy their crops from overseas to cut down on costs. As a result, they're unsure of the integrity with which their hemp was grown. From unsustainable plastic mulching to the possible use of pesticides and other harmful practices, there are a variety of ways that hemp cultivators can cut corners.

At Charlotte's Web we grow all of our plants here in the US on our own or family-owned farms. We do this so that we can make sure every single step of the process is done right. We plant by hand on 100% of our farm acreage, using only sustainable and regenerative farming practices.

Our goal is to make the soil and land we farm richer and healthier than it was before we touched it. These practices promote biodiversity, protect the ecosystem, and help us to take good care of our planet just as it takes care of us.

#2: Soil is not an unlimited resource.

Healthy soil is one of our most precious natural resources. It supports the production of food and fuel for humans, and is also a crucial component for countless other natural processes in the environment.

But what many people don't realize is that soil is not an unlimited resource. It can be degraded or eroded through irresponsible farming practices. And when that happens, it's not easily recovered.

This is an under-appreciated yet vital fact that our society must come to terms with in the coming years. And that's why we put such great care into protecting and enriching our soil.

After we harvest our plants, rather than leaving the soil bare over the winter, we plant what are known as cover crops. These crops improve the soil's health by protecting it from erosion, making it more nutrient dense, and reducing the need for pesticides.

As a result, our soil is always in great condition when spring rolls around. This not only helps protect the quality of our soil—it also means our hemp plants reap the benefits of richer, more nutrient-dense soil.

#3: Keeping the land contaminant-free requires constant testing.

Keeping the land clean and healthy requires constant vigilance. In these times, you can't just assume that your soil or irrigation systems are free from things like heavy metals or pesticides without regular laboratory analysis and testing.

Complicating matters is the fact that hemp is a bioaccumulator, which means it can absorb things like heavy metals, herbicides, and fuels from the soil.

That's why we take care to test extensively. We test our water for microbes and we monitor our irrigation systems to ensure that they stay free from pesticides and contaminants. We also test the soil for nutrient content and heavy metals. And of course, we test our actual hemp plants at multiple stages throughout the production process.

By the time a Charlotte's Web product arrives at your front door, it will have been carefully tested over 20 times to make sure it meets our strict standards for quality. And all this testing also helps ensure that our farms remain sustainable and eco-friendly.

Kanchanalak Chanthaphun / EyeEm / Getty Images

#4: Compliance with regulatory guidelines is key.

Farms, manufacturers, and other organizations have regulatory guidelines for a reason. Unfortunately, not every company is compliant with the most important regulations.

Here at Charlotte's Web, we take great care to maintain compliance with all major environmental guidelines such as those suggested by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Prop 65, Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), and the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA).

#5: Creating a GMO plant is expensive.

GMO crops are more common than ever. However, you might be surprised to learn that GMOs are extremely difficult, time consuming, and expensive to make.

The average cost for producing a new GMO plant is well over $100 million (and sometimes it cost much more than that). This is why you'll typically only see GMOs developed by massive, multinational companies.

As far as we know, no GMO varieties of the hemp plant have been developed anywhere. Developing a GMO hemp crop would be beyond our ability, and we would never have any desire to do so anyway.

We value the fact that our plants are natural and sustainable. Besides, our hemp is perfectly wonderful just the way it is! Our main hemp variety, often called "Charlotte's Web," was developed years ago by The Stanley Brothers. The seeds have been developed domestically and adapted to the Colorado climate. We take meticulous care of these plants to ensure the highest quality and consistency anywhere.

This is one more reason you can trust that we will always use natural, non-GMO plants for our hemp products.

#6: Consider the company's partners and associates.

If a company claims to be sustainable, but they support and rely on a bunch of companies that are polluting the environment, are they really acting in an environmentally responsible manner?

We don't think so. We believe that the people and companies you associate with makes a difference. That's why we only support like-minded organizations that choose to champion and restore sustainable farming in the United States.

Denver Urban Gardens is one organization we believe in. Their mission is to cultivate gardeners, promote healthy living, and nourish communities through growing food.

We're also proud to support the Rodale Institute of New York, whose mission is to assist farmers in successfully transitioning to organic practices. They conduct important research on the potential impact of organic farming methods.

#7: Organic is great, but not essential.

Organic is wonderful, but it's not a requirement for sustainable farming. Getting certified as organic requires jumping through hoops that can be difficult and expensive for many companies. So even if you don't see that organic seal, it doesn't necessarily mean the product wasn't made in a sustainable, eco-friendly way.

For instance: there are many Amish farmers who aren't certified organic, even though their farming practices go above and beyond what is required to be "organic."

While Charlotte's Web is currently in the process of achieving official USDA Organic Certification, we're already practicing organic and sustainable cultivation techniques on 100% of our farms. These techniques actively enhance the overall health of the soil and our crops.

For example, rather than using toxic pesticides, we actually encourage and support natural predators of common hemp pests (an army of vicious ladybugs). We also tend to all of our plants by hand, and plant cover crops during the winter rather than leaving the soil bare.

We avoid the use of all harsh chemicals and fertilizers. We never spray our plants with anything nasty or unnatural, and we never use anything that's been regulated by the EPA.

AndrisTkachenko / iStock / Getty Images Plus

#8: One quick rule of thumb: look for Certified B Corporations.

Want to get a quick idea of a company's sense of social responsibility? Look for this symbol on their website:

Certified B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.

B Corporations are held extremely accountable for their actions. They're expected to positively impact the environment, as well as their employees, customers, and community.

When you see that a company is B certified, you can feel confident knowing that they walk the walk. And after months of diligent work to finish the B Impact Assessment, we're very proud here at Charlotte's Web to be a part of the B Corp community!

We understand that our problems can't be solved by nonprofits and governmental policies alone. The B Corp community bands together to preserve our environment, empower our communities, and reduce inequality, all while providing meaningful and dignified jobs.

#9: Don't forget about packaging!

When looking at the ecological impact of a product, we can't overlook the importance of packaging.

Regardless of how sustainable a product itself is, the excessive use of plastics and non-reusable materials in the packaging is not sustainable. Single-use plastics have wreaked havoc on our ecosystems, which is why eco-friendly packaging is so important.

Thankfully, we are finally starting to collectively wise up. At Charlotte's Web, our packaging is designed to have a neutral or positive environmental impact. And we hold our partners and our suppliers accountable to the same high standards.

#10: You can tell a lot from a company's mission.

Do they have a strong mission?

Here at Charlotte's Web, our mission is twofold:

  1. To promote natural wellbeing and good health among people.
  2. To empower and protect nature.

Health is wealth, and by serving as nature's respectful stewards we can continue to heal and empower ourselves and our fellow man while also benefiting our environment.

We are full of love and respect for humanity and nature, and full of hope for our planet's future. This is why we're setting the gold standard for sustainable practices in the hemp industry.

We hope you'll join us in spreading this important message and helping to protect and care for our precious planet.

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