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Seeing Green with Hemp Eyewear

Hemp. What comes to mind when you first hear that word? For most of you, I’d guess industrial crop wasn’t at the top of the list. Well, it should be. Because of its relationship to the recreational drug, some countries — including the US — have strict regulations that do not permit hemp cultivation as an industrial crop. That’s too bad because hemp is a versatile and eco-friendly resource and it looks great in Hemp Eyewear’s new glasses.

I’ll address the elephant in the room — the big, stinky, green elephant. Marijuana and hemp are the same plant — Cannabis Sativa L. — so, yes, you weren’t wrong earlier. However, one is selectively bred for flowers/buds with high THC content, while the other is the plant’s most natural form with negligible amounts of the mind-altering chemical.

Natural hemp is a tall, stalky plant that is an ideal crop for a variety of manufacturing goods. It can grow almost anywhere, does not rely on pesticides for survivability, and has the potential to be utilized in various different industries. According to VoteHemp, thousands of products can be made from hemp including clothing, paper, auto parts, building materials, nutritious foods, dietary supplements and more.

So hemp won’t get you high, but it can produce some high-quality eyewear. Hemp Eyewear is a company that crafts frames made out of natural hemp fiber. The founder of the company, who is passionate about innovation and sustainability, found industrial hemp to be the most eco-friendly and diverse resource available. Hemp Eyewear was founded in 2014 by Sam Whitten, a product design entrepreneur who is now headquartered with his company in Edinburgh, Scotland. We had the chance to talk with Sam and get the inside scoop on his innovative product:

How did you get started?

I wanted to use hemp, but I also wanted to create something that has never been done before. After looking for a product area I was interested in — eyewear — I found there was no hemp fiber frames on the market. I ran a few tests in the university workshop where I developed the initial frames. Thus Hemp Eyewear was born.

Hemp has an interesting, spaced-out cousin. Have you had any issues with the law in regards to that relationship? 

There have been absolutely no issues with the law at all. Hemp is not illegal to grow in Europe because it is an industrial crop grown for its long and strong plant fiber. Hemp and marijuana are completely different plants, hemp is really tall and thin, marijuana is small and bushy. We have science and tests to back this up so there really is no problem.

These glasses are supposed to be eco-friendly, what about the coating you use to finish each pair?

The eco-friendly binder is water based and contains no petrochemicals in its make up. The only waste it produces is steam, so it is a really green material.

Finally, can you describe the feel of your glasses? 

Our glasses are really lightweight. Our material is actually stronger and lighter than carbon fiber, plus it’s sustainable. The finish is incredibly smooth and people often comment on how light the frames are as well as their tactility.

Now that you’ve learned a little bit about hemp and an innovative company that brings style and sustainability to eyewear, check out Hemp Eyewear and their kickstarter to be the first to own a pair. We at The Manual are excited to try out these green frames ourselves!

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