Ministry of Hemp

Ministry of Hemp

America's leading advocate for hemp

Author: Pearl Green

Hemp Surfboards: Riding The Wave Of Hemp Hype With A New Kind Of Board

Chad Kaimanu Jackson, a Native Hawaiian, sustainability scientist, and pro surfer, creates the world’s premiere hemp surfboards. He uses hemp fibers instead of fiberglass and wraps the boards in hemp foam.

It took becoming versed in “The Emperor Wears No Clothes,” world travel, and going back to school to study earth sciences and anthropology for Chad Kaimanu Jackson to come up with hemp surfboardS.

“I was learning of the great legacy of hemp in ancient China and up to the founding of the US. And in my study of human history and attempting to integrate the concepts of sustainability in my scientific and academic career I found myself in a bit of cognitive dissonance,” says Jackson.

Photo: A surfer in a wetsuit rides a hemp surfboard.

Despite being more sustainable, hemp surfboards cost about the same as conventional boards. (Photo: Bee Line Hemp Wick)

“I knew I had a mission to incorporate my life as a surfer, a Native Hawaiian, and a scientist into contributing to the sustainability/conservation movement in tandem with the cultural revival that was occurring with Indigenous Nations.”

CREATING HEMP SURFBOARDS

Jackson, 39, has been building surfboards since a young age and started wearing hemp clothes in 2001. For the past 15 years the surfer, who has competed on the Big Wave Tour, has been the primary hemp surfboard builder in the surfing world.

He initially began using an alternative form of surfboard foam based from soybean oils, but became interested in using hemp in any way after becoming involved with the Hemp Museum, a nonprofit originally located in Santa Cruz, and its store.

Jackson briefly made boards for the store before starting to construct his own after gaining sponsorship through Hawaiian-based surf brand Da Hui. He also had a stint with Local Clothing.

In 2007, Jackson started HempSurf. Today he has support from brand Vissla who help him with the boards as well as his surfing and science work.

Photo: Chad Jackson laying on the ground surrounded by 7 of his hemp surfboards.

Jackson’s hemp surfboards are made from hemp along with other sustainable materials. (Photo: Chad Jackson)

Other alternative materials Jackson uses in his surfboards include recycled redwood, flax, agave wood core, and bio-based resins and epoxies.

There has been a recent resurgence of interest in hemp surfboards, says the surfer.

“(It) is a simple delayed response of the public and surf communities finally catching on to the sustainability movement, which in terms of hemp, has been fueled by the recent legalization of hemp agriculture, (the) CBD industry, and the prevalence of Instagram and other social media outlets,” says Jackson.

Compared to the price of conventional surfboards, Jackson says the cost of a hemp surfboard is virtually the same. Shortboards are priced between $500 – $600 while a longboard ranges from between $800 and $1,000 and agave boards start at $1,500.

HEMP SURFBOARDS ENABLE AN ‘INDIGENOUS CULTURAL REVIVAL’

It’s important that hemp is recognised as it has the ability to offset environmental impacts derived from corporate agriculture, big pharma, and the petro-chemical industry, stresses Jackson.

“The organic nature is superior to synthetic materials in the overall life energy the fibers carry, the strength-to-weight ratios are the strongest found in nature (along with flax), superior flexura,” he says.

“This carries over to sustainable agriculture, economics, indigenous cultural revival and empowerment, and celebrates our connection with our ancestors and the tools they have passed on to us.”

He is currently involved in a film project about the Hawaiians who brought surfing to Santa Cruz in 1885.

“The film will segue into how suffers can come together to solve environmental problems and mobilize as a very powerful and influential subculture,” says Jackson.

For Jackson, hemp surfboards are a way to promote sustainability and environmental responsibility. (Photo: Jensen Young-Sik)

Kea Eubank’s interest in hemp started over 15 years ago, when he was looking for better alternatives to smoking with butane lighters and matches. Hemp was the way forward. Eubank, born and bred in Maui, and his partner Miranda Campbell formulated “the hemp wick,” a term Eubank says is now used by over 70 different companies, and the first hemp wick company, Bee Line Hemp Wick. Bee Line combines hemp and beeswax, both ancient and renewable resources used in lighting medicinal herbs, pipes and fine cigars, and hand-rolled tobacco cigarettes.

“(We) came to realize how versatile hemp is, and have been looking for other uses ever since, which tends to keep us pretty busy, as there are thousands,” says Eubank.

USING HEMP IN A UNIQUE WAY FOR SURFING

About three years ago Bee Line Hemp Wick partnered with Conway Bixby of Bixby Surfboards, a board shaper and river surfer in Bend, Oregon, and began making surfboards out of made out of recycled foam and organic hemp fiber in place of fiberglass.

“We were hoping we could trade out even more of the standard surfboard materials for hemp while maintaining the high performance,” says Eubank.

The hemp comes from Romania in eastern Europe, which Eubank, 38, says he’s found to have the best organic hemp in the world.

“They use a traditional process called retting where they let the hemp break down in the field and then finish with machine processing it into long strands which they spin/twist back together,” he says.

“A lot of other manufacturers use chemicals to break down their hemp to a pulp, and then bleach it.”

Jackson catches a massive wave on a hemp surfboard.

Jackson catches a massive wave in Oregon, reiding on a hemp surfboard. (Photo: Richard Hallman)

Bee Line Wick uses the hemp in a unique way to make the boards, using hemp fibers instead of fiberglass, wrapping the recycled foam in hemp.

“I’m not sure if anybody is doing it quite like us,” says Eubank.

‘STOKED TO HAVE A HEMP SURFBOARD IN THEIR QUIVER’

The boards, which he says start at $650 but vary in price depending on size, are popular.

“Half the people love that they utilize hemp and the other half just love how they look,” says Eubank.

“(Customers are) mostly river surfers, and then there’s people just stoked on anything hemp and to have a hemp surfboard in their quiver.”

Eubank says traditional materials used to make surfboards are chemical-based.

“Surfers naturally want to keep the earth and ocean clean because they are immersed in the elements daily,” says Eubank.

“Hemp, if processed responsibly has a lot less impact on the earth, while (the board is) being made, and in the end when the board is no longer surfable.”

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Hemp Food Wraps: Sustainable Food Covering As A Substitute For Plastic

Hemp food wraps, created by an Australian couple from local hemp and beeswax, are a new, sustainable alternative to plastic for covering food. The same business also offers hemp soaps and artisanal hemp paper.

Hemp food wraps, created by an Australian couple, are a new, sustainable alternative to plastic for covering food.

After launching her hemp business with her husband, Maxine Woodhouse didn’t want to concentrate on products she felt were already being done, like oil and protein power.

So she chose something that would stand out – hemp beeswax food wraps.

Available in funky retro tie dyed colors, which makes them perfect for a dinner party, you might say they really are the bees’ knees of food wraps.

“We decided we wanted to have something different because we want our business to be a bit unique from everyone else, so we went ‘okay what if we dyed them and dipped them and we get our beeswax’,” Maxine Shea, co-founder of Australian-based business Hemp Collective and Fields of Hemp, told us.

LOCAL BEESWAX & HEMP COMBINE FOR SUSTAINABLE HEMP FOOD WRAPS

The locally made wraps, which can be purchased online, are all-natural, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal, water-resistant and sustainable.

An Australian couple created sustainable hemp food wraps using local hemp and beeswax. Photo: A picnic party place setting including a bowl covered with a hemp food wrap.

An Australian couple created sustainable hemp food wraps using local hemp and beeswax. (Photo: Hemp Collective)

The beeswax is sourced locally and infused with organic coconut oil and pine tree resin from the Byron Bay community in northern NSW, not far from where Shea and her husband and business co-founder Mike have a hemp farm for industrial use.

“People go ‘oh is it farmed from bees that are being harmed’ and we went ‘well no the bee keepers look after their bees,’” Maxine said.

With a background that includes studying and teaching about waste education, the product also fits in with the ethos of the couple and their business.

“We came up with the hemp beeswax wrap because we’re trying to eliminate plastic within our business. I come from that zero waste (belief) and also moving forward I think it’s important to do that for society,” Maxine said.

“There’s so much going on with plastic at the moment that it is an unsustainable product and it is killing a lot of wildlife, so the beeswax wraps made sense.”

Perfect for storing food and keeping produce fresh – from vegetables and fruits to flowers to kids’ lunches – the list of uses for the wraps is endless, say the Hemp Collective.

The biodegradable wraps, which can be moulded into a pouch or cone (no pun intended) are also easy to use, are water-resistant, and are easy to wash.

FROM HEMP FOOD WRAPS TO HEMP PAPER: HEMP IS WHERE WE ARE

Following their launch, the Hemp Collective unveiled their hemp paper and hemp business cards.

“I couldn’t find any hemp business cards. I thought ‘no one’s actually making them in Australia’,” the entrepreneur said.

“We went ‘okay you know what we could actually do wedding invitations, we could do all sorts of things with it.’ But the business cards were what we started out with.”

The fact that it’s a premium product again sets it aside from the others that do exist, Maxine said.

Photo: Hemp food wraps molded into a cone shape to hold fresh fruit on a table.

The reusable sustainable biodegradable hemp food wraps can also be turned into pouch or cone shapes for serving snacks. (Photo: Hemp Collective)

The Hemp Collective’s soaps come in myrtle, activated charcoal, lavender oil, peppermint and eucalyptus, and oatmeal flavors. Ingredients include organic cold pressed coconut oil, purified water, Australian hemp seed oil, and organic unrefined shea butter.

“There’s probably seven ingredients in there and it’s all either organic or Australian,” Maxine said.

Next up they will launch their hemp shampoo and conditioner bar range. A healing balm is also in the pipeline.

The main concern for their products, Mike said, is that they are producing high quality.

“We made sure that we got not just any coconut oil, we made sure that it either came from a sustainable source but also good quality,” he says.

“The same with the shea butter.”

MAKING HEMP FANS IN AN AUSTRALIAN TOURISM HOT SPOT

The couple’s business is based in the small town of Mullumbimby, not far from the tourist hot spot Byron Bay, with a wall of hemp that the community helped make for their office.

“We said we’re going to build this hemp wall. Ten people (said) ‘oh we’ll come and help’,” Maxine said.

“We hand harvested that hemp. The community has been amazing around here.”

The couple, who have been together for 17 years, were based in New Zealand, where they had a distribution company, before they moved to Australia in 2017.

Photo: Three different colors and textures of hemp paper from Hemp Collective.

In addition to hemp food wraps, Hemp Collective makes hem paper and body care products. (Photo: Hemp Collective)

Maxine had earlier given birth to the couple’s son who was diagnosed with a severe form of eczema. Maxine was later diagnosed with a brain tumor, a type that affects only one to two per cent of people. In New Zealand, they were given some CBD oil.

“When we came over here, we did a whole change and we looked at hemp and went yeah, I think there’s something in this,” Mike said.

“And then the food law changed (in November 2017) and that’s when we thought ‘well this is what’s going to get the wheels moving for the hemp industry.’”

The couple say they have recurring customers and their main customers are probably mostly female, but their ages are different.

“The soap gets an older demographic whereas we feel like shampoo bars and conditioner bars are going to be good for that travellers 18 – 35 type age groups where they’re kind of on the move,” Maxine said.

“It’s perfect for travel, you just shove it in your bag. You don’t have to carry all these big bottles.”

“Artists are loving the paper.”

HOPES FOR HEMP’S FUTURE IN AUSTRALIA

Maxine said there’s also some exciting things happening “behind the scenes”.

“We really want to start getting some infrastructure happening around the region, farmers growing but growing so they’re actually going to get better yields and outputs and also money because farmers are always struggling,” she said.

Maxine Shea poses with a collection of Hemp Collective products and a small hempcrete wall.

Maxine Shea poses with a collection of Hemp Collective products and a small hempcrete wall. (Photo: Ministry of Hemp / Pearl Green)

She said the Australian hemp industry was “stifled due to a range of different things”.

“It’s stifled due to thought process the fact that there’s stigma around the products,” Maxine said.

“Australia is behind due to its crazy policies.”

Maxine said her vision for the hemp community in Australia was one where people could collaborate but every single person could still have a niche within their business that sets them, their story, and their product apart.

“If everyone can work together you’ve actually got a bigger way of talking to government and getting things changed,” she said.

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Hemp Coffins: Elevating The Afterlife In Australia With Hemp

In Nimbin, Australia, bodies are being buried and burnt in brightly-decorated hemp coffins. The coffins, which are built with pressed hemp board from Germany and lined with hemp rope handles, are usually colourfully painted by local artists.

In Australia’s alternative lifestyle capital, bodies are being buried and burnt in brightly-decorated hemp coffins.

These hemp coffins are handmade at the Hemp Embassy in Nimbin, New South Wales, Australia. Photo: A man smokes a joint while standing in an undecorated hemp coffin, at the Hemp Embassy in Nimbin, New South Wales, Australia.

These hemp coffins are handmade at the HEMP Embassy in Nimbin, New South Wales, Australia. (Photo courtesy HEMP Embassy)

“I’ve got three on site at the moment that are made,” says Michael Balderstone president of the HEMP Embassy in Nimbin, a small town in northern New South Wales, where the caskets are designed, built, and sold.

“People ring up and order them. I can make one in a day. They’re beautiful.”

The coffins, which are built with a 19mm lightweight pressed hemp board from Germany and are lined with hemp rope handles, are usually colourfully painted by artists in Nimbin. The town, which hosted the 1973 Aquarius Festival, is Australia’s answer to Woodstock.

“It takes people all their life saving up for their funeral,” says Balderstone. “In Nimbin we want to wrap them in a cloth and compost them, but you’re not allowed so you’ve got to do the cheapest (thing) possible.”

The hemp coffins cost only between $700 and $900, he says. That’s similar to the cost of a regular coffin, but constructed from sustainable materials that will biodegrade more quickly.

“They are popular,” says Balderstone.

“Even my father, he was very conservative. Never got stoned but said, ‘I wouldn’t mind one of those hemp coffins.’”

“I’ve been encouraging people to buy them early, get in early.”

And they’re also versatile, as a sign in the window of the HEMP embassy highlights.

“Can be used as a broom cupboard or book shelves etc in the meantime,” it reads.

HEMP COFFINS ON THE RISE WORLDWIDE

According to small-scale manufacturer Rawganique, which makes hemp products, local demand for its willow-hemp caskets and coffins “is more than enough” for its single artisan workshop located on Denman Island, British Columbia. Their products feature organic hemp ropes, come in a variety of colors, are chemical and fertilizer-free, and completely biodegradable. Meanwhile, hemp burial shrouds are also available through Australia-based Life Rites.

The Australia and New Zealand Food Standards Code has allowed the sale and consumption of low-THC hemp seed foods since November 2017. The move was described as a “landmark” by the not-for-profit Australian Industrial Hemp Alliance (AIHA).

A sign on a hemp coffin suggests they can be used to store books or cleaning supplies before death.

The creator of these hemp coffins suggests they can be used to store books or cleaning supplies before death. (Photo: Ministry of Hemp / Pearl Green)

The Nimbin HEMP Embassy, formed in 1992, aims to educate people about the integration of hemp in people’s lives. The Embassy runs a shop and information centre “to fund our protest” against Australia’s cannabis laws. Its shop displays everything from a hemp surfboard to a hemp bees-wax food wrap, while its hemp bar offers a range of hot beverages and desserts containing the plant. Other restaurants and shops nearby also sell hemp products.

Balderstone is also president of Australia’s federally-registered HEMP Party, which will contest in the upcoming election in May.

According to reports, Australia is one of highest users of psychoactive cannabis (“marijuana”) in the world, even though recreational use of cannabis is criminalized there. Medicinal marijuana is legal in the country.

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