Category Archives: Sustainability

The Hemp Twine Project – Part One

One of my planned projects involves encouraging the sale of hemp twine to promote the local economy in Somerset. Everyone needs string. Hemp was once a major crop here, supplying huge quantities of rope for the Bristol shipping trade.

You can still see some of the long sheds where the ropes used to be twisted together from fibres.

Accordingly, after my summer adventures in the field, I set about ordering some hemp twine. Reluctant to create yet another customer profile for a possible single purchase, I called my chosen supplier and spoke to a friendly chap from the north of England.

I deplored the price of hemp twine, given the ease and low cost of hemp cultivation. He told me the sad tale of the decline of the natural fibre rope making industry faced with competition from oil based plastics. The hemp I was buying came from Egypt. Could I believe that unscrupulous sellers even tried to pass off jute fibre as hemp?

Uncomfortably aware that, although my grandfather would certainly have known the difference, I could be thus hoodwinked all day long, I moved the subject to purse nets. The hemp twine – the largest and cheapest reel I had found – was destined to make and repair these nets, commonly used for catching rabbits.

Alas, there was a sad story there too. Modern lads take no care of their hunting gear, but are content to stuff wet and muddy nets into a plastic sack at the end of a day. Left in this condition, even the spectacular ability of hemp to resist rot is overcome. Cheap imported plastic nets, however, can be abused endlessly.

Lads – do you realise that your careless lazy habits are having this impact? Take a minute or ten just to rinse out your nets and hang them up to dry before opening that can and slumping in front of the TV! Buy hemp purse nets or better still have some pride in your craft and make your own. There are instructions on the internet.

Hemp can and should be widely grown in this country. As well as fibre to replace imported oil based plastics, it yields nutritious seeds ideal for livestock feed. All it lacks is a market. Hundreds of new jobs could be created.

See how it’s all connected?

Start paying attention.

Step away from the edge

How did we get here, poised like the mythical lemmings on the cliff edge?  What madness made us think our careless greed would have no price?

The damage was far away and out of sight. Ancient forests razed to the ground and all their inhabitants wiped out. Pits of destruction so vast that mighty lorries seem tiny as crawling ants in their depths. Thousands of women and children imprisoned in factories churning out cheap throwaway clothes.

In our frantic search for fulfillment through ever more shiny material goods we have destroyed the framework which supported communities working together for each other’s benefit. The more money we have the faster it disappears, instead of enriching our own area.

Why should you care about your neighbour’s business when it has no effect on your life? Why should they care about you? Would it improve their life if they did?

It’s time the party ended. We need to reduce our dependence on a global economy, move away from our insidious addiction to oil and grow a country whose core needs can be satisfied by quality local produce.