Hemp vs Cotton: Which Fabric Is Best for The Environment - Procana

Hemp vs Cotton

by | Dec 10, 2022 | Research & Studies

Back in the day, Hemp was the #1 crop due to its versatility and simple cultivation. One of the thousands of uses for Hemp is the making of textiles for clothes. However, in today’s world, because of the prohibition of all Cannabis plant species in many countries, Cotton has bumped Hemp off the top of the list as the main crop for producing fabric.

How do the 2 crops differ?

According to a study published by Stockholm Environment Institute, Hemp is a “low-maintenance crop”, having a lower impact in terms of water, energy, and ecological footprint when compared to Cotton.


  • Three times the amount of hemp fiber can be produced from the same amount of land as cotton
  • Hemp is capable of growing in climates ranging from the Arctic to the equator; cotton is not
  • According to WWF, “current cotton production methods are environmentally unsustainable—ultimately undermining the industry’s ability to maintain future production.”
  • Products that are made of Hemp only (plastics, oil, textiles, paper, etc…) are biodegradable, making it easier on landfills


  • Hemp is a natural repellant and needs very minimal (if any) pesticides; Cotton receives over 30% of the world’s pesticides
  • Hemp is a great rotation crop, pulling toxins from the soil and acting as a fertilizer and mulch, leaving the fields free of weeds and making it easier for farmers to grow other crops effectively; Cotton degrades soil quality with residual pesticides and chemicals.


  • Cotton uses the most water for an agricultural crop
  • 1 kilogram of Hemp requires approximately 2,123 liters of water; 1 kilogram of cotton requires between 9,788 liters and 9,958 liters of water (1 kilogram of cotton is enough to make only 1 shirt and 1 pair of jeans)


  • Hemp fabric gets softer with every wash, but won’t break down like cotton fabric.
  • Because Hemp is anti-bacterial, Hemp fabric will not rot

“I believe that hemp is going to be the fiber of choice in both the home furnishing and fashion industries” – Calvin Klein


– John W. Roulac, Hemp Horizons: The Comeback of the World’s Most Promising Plant, (Vermont: Chelsea Green Publishing, 1997)
– “All you need to know about hemp”, Sholeh Patrick, Hagadone News Network, April 16, 2005
– www.hempfarm.org/Papers/Hemp_Facts.html
– www.eiha.org/document/hemp-vs-cotton/
– www.worldwildlife.org/industries/cotton
– www.sei.org/publications/ecological-footprint-water-analysis-cotton-hemp-polyester/
– www.ministryofhemp.com/learn/cotton-killing-earth/
– www.ers.usda.gov/topics/crops/cotton-wool/

Also read: Are Hemp Products Legal?

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