Niagara Hemp Company/Supplier Environmental Policies
Niagara Hemp Company is a company founded upon good environmental policies. Our mission is to help the planet by promoting hemp. We strive to bring hemp back into the mainstream of industry by providing quality natural hemp at the lowest possible prices. We achieve our environmental goals through our products and our procedures.
While all of our hemp is grown outside The United States due to its current legal status, ocean freight is mainly used by our manufacturer/supplier to ship our products from the factories to our warehouse. Ocean freight is the most economical and environmental method of moving products around the world. Ocean freight uses less energy per pound per mile than air freight, trucking freight and even train freight. Surprisingly less energy is used to ship product from a port in China to a port in Canada/United States than shipping that same product by truck from Montreal to Niagara Falls, Canada.
Using recycled boxes and bags for all our packaging
Not once in the entire history of our company have we purchased a cardboard box or a plastic bag. Every single box we use is recycled. Not made from recycled fibers, but actually recycled from prior use. We locate and reuse discarded boxes we find throughout the Niagara Falls area. The plastic bags are all reused from the packing we receive.
Half of our employees carpool to our office.
Environmental Dyeing methods
We dye and finish our fabrics using only the most environmental dyeing methods both in North America and at our partners overseas factories. In the following text we explain in detail our environmental dyeing procedures.
Checklist for Environmental Finishing of Textiles
The impact on the environment by the process of dyeing textiles vary greatly around the world. Many developing countries have no regulations regarding the methods of dyeing, the types of dyes used, and the disposal of waste. In the United States, and especially California, environmental laws regulate the types of dyes and dyeing methods used by commercial dye houses. There is a lot of confusion regarding the dyeing of textiles and what is to be considered "environmental".
When determining the measure of harm done to the environment by the dyeing process, one must take into account three elements:
- The actual dye used and whether or not it has toxic properties.
- The method of dyeing and how much energy is required.
- How much dye gets into the fabric and the method of disposal of excess dye and chemicals.
Many people mistakenly believe that fabrics dyed using natural dyes will be less harmful to the ecosystem than conventional dyeing methods, but this is not always the case. The process of extracting pigment molecules from nature may require more energy and harmful chemicals than synthesizing them in the lab. In some dyes, the actual pigment molecules are the same, whether they originated in nature or the lab.
Dyes are molecules that absorb and reflect light at specific wavelengths to give our eyes the sense of color. With natural dyes, the molecules are extracted from natural substances such as plants, animals, or minerals. Synthetic dyes are produced in a laboratory and synthesized from other chemicals. Some synthetic dyes contain heavy metals and other elements that react negatively if released in the environment. Newer synthetic dyes tend to have less harmful elements.
The method of dyeing also plays a factor. Harmful chemicals may be added to the dye bath to help the dye molecules bind to the fibers of the fabric. Also the amount of energy used to run the dye machine in the form of mechanical action and heat vary greatly from region to region.
The handling of waste is probably the biggest factor to determine how detrimental the process is to the environment. Is the excess waste filtered and neutralized before it is put down a drain? Or is it just dumped into a river? Once again, environmental laws play an important role with developing countries usually using the cheapest and most convenient method of disposal.
The following methods of finishing textiles generally refer to modern methods used in industrial dye houses. We have listed which methods do not cause harm to the environment and are used by Niagara Hemp Company to convert their fabrics.
Prepare for Dyeing
- No Chlorine bleached is used. Hydrogen Peroxide bleach is used on light or bright colors only.
- Enzymes are used to desize natural sizing. Sizing is a generic term for compounds applied to fabrics to improve their smoothness, abrasion resistance, stiffness, strength, weight, or luster. (Starch is generally used to achieve this effect.)
- Non-biodegradable synthetic sizing is reclaimed after the desizing process.
- Scouring (cleaning) agents used are biodegradable. No solvent scouring.
- No Mercerization, which is a treatment on fabric that swells the fibers of the yarns in a strong alkali.
- Piece goods, normally under tension, are immersed in sodium hydroxide (caustic soda) and then are neutralized in acid. This process causes a permanent swelling of the fiber which
increases luster, strength and an affinity for dyes.
Low impact dyes or dye stuff is:
- Natural components are water soluble
- Fixation is 70% or more
- No heavy metal content
Low impact dye process follows these methods:
- Heat reclamation on site.
- Water filtration on site.
- No salt added to dye bath.
Additional auxiliaries and additives in the dye bath are biodegradable.
The following mechanical finishes are acceptable:
Tentering: Process for holding a fabric to desired width during drying. A tenter frame machine holds the fabric firmly at the edges by pins or clips as it advances through a heated chamber. This is generally the final step in finishing, giving the fabric its finished appearance. Sanforized: A trademarked control standard of shrinkage performance. A method of compressive shrinkage involving feeding the fabric between a stretched blanket and a heated shoe. When the blanket is allowed to retract, the cloth is physically forced to comply. Leaves fabrics with a residual shrinkage of not more than one percent.
Compacting: A permanent treatment by which heat and pressure shrink a fabric so that resulting texture is crepey/crinkled and bulky.
The following heat finishes are acceptable:
Calendering: Fabric is passed between heated cylinders under pressure to produce a flat, glossy, smooth, high luster surface.
Steam Chamber: Stabilizes the colors of dyes after printing and dyeing processes. Process where steam is passed through fabric. This partially shrinks and conditions the fabrics when applied, especially on wovens.
Heat Shrinkage: Improves shrinkage resistance and shape retention of fabric and often other desirable properties, such as wrinkle resistance by means of either dry or moist heat.
Singeing: Burning off protruding fibers from fabric by passing over flame or heated plates. Imparts the smooth surface necessary for printing and clear finishes.
The following aesthetic mechanical finishes are acceptable:
Brushing: Utilizes multiple brushes or other abrading elements to raise fiber ends thus producing a nap on surface of fabric.
Sanding/Sueding: Process by which fabric passes over rapidly revolving rollers covered with abrasive paper.
Napping: Raising the surface fibers of fabric by means of passage over rapidly revolving cylinders covered with metal points/fine wire brushes or teasel (plant) burrs.
The following chemical finishes are acceptable:
Enzyme Washing: The use of an enzyme (organic catalyst used to speed up a chemical reaction) to produce stone washed effects on fabrics. This process id less damaging to fabrics than actual stone washing and produces a highly desirable soft hand.
Biopolishing: Where cellulose (any group of enzymes that degrade cellulose) enzymes hydrolyze the fiber surfaces. This treatment improves hand, reduces fuzz and pilling and gives clearer finish. Biopolishing agents should adhere to the following requirements to be considered environmental.
- Softeners used are biodegradable.
- No Formaldehyde based resins.
- No undisclosed chemical finishes.
- No acid wash/No stone wash.
PET plastics are also known as Polyethylene terephthalate (PETE). These plastics are usually beverage bottles (i.e. water, soda, and fruit juice bottles). Recycling plastic reduces air, water, and ground pollution. One main benefit of making clothes from recycled bottles is that it keep the bottles and other plastics from occupying landfill space. Another benefit is that it takes 30% less energy to make fabric from recycled plastics than from virgin polyesters. In addition to promoting a sounder environment by producing newer clothing made with sustainable, innovative materials, clothing can also be donated to charities, sold into consignment shops, or recycled into other materials. These methods reduce the amount of landfill space occupied by discarded clothes.
Organic cotton is grown from non genetically modified plants, and is grown without the use of any synthetic agricultural chemicals such as fertilizers or pesticides. Its production also promotes and enhances biodiversity and biological cycles. Using organic methods to farm has several environmental benefits.
- Protecting surface and groundwater quality (eliminating contaminants in surface runoff) - Reduced risk in insect and disease control by replacing insecticide with the manipulation of ecosystems
- Long-term prevention of pests through beneficial habitat planting.
- Conservation of biodiversity
- Eliminate the use of toxic chemicals used in cotton
- Organically grown crops also yield soils with higher organic matter content, thicker topsoil depth, higher polysaccharide content, and lower modulus of rupture; therefore reducing considerably soil erosion.
Hemp is an extremely fast growing crop, producing more fiber yield per acre than any other source. Hemp can produce 250% more fiber than cotton and 600% more fiber than flax using the same amount of land. The amount of land needed for obtaining equal yields of fiber place hemp at an advantage over other fibers. Hemp grows best in warm tropical zones or in moderately cool, temperate climates, such as the United States. Hemp leaves the soil in excellent condition for any succeeding crop, especially when weeds may otherwise be troublesome. Where the ground permits, hemp's strong roots descend for three feet or more. The roots anchor and protect the soil from runoff, building and preserving topsoil and subsoil structures similar to those of forests. Moreover, hemp does not exhaust the soil. Hemp plants shed their leaves all through the growing season, adding rich organic matter to the topsoil and helping it retain moisture. Farmers have reported excellent hemp growth on land that had been cultivated steadily for nearly 100 years.
Certified Organic Cotton