Hemp Straws And The Sustainability Of Hemp With Exhemplary Life

Hemp Straws And The Sustainability Of Hemp With Exhemplary Life
Ministry of Hemp Podcast

Hemp straws and other products made from plants like flax could be part of a more sustainable future.

In episode 63 of the Ministry of Hemp podcast, our host Matt Baum talks about biodegradable hemp plastic with Carolyn Virostek, a distributor for Exhemplarylife.com.

Carolyn talks about the benefits of biodegradable hemp plastic vs other plastics. Some plastics that creators claim are more environmentally friendly actually break down into microplastics. The conversation covers single-use plastics like the hemp straws and how hemp and other plants like flax can be used for much more than making smoothies. Matt also mentions this Stanford University report on plastic straws at the beginning of the episode.

About Exhemplary Life

Exhemplary Life was created out of a desire to advocate for hemp and products made from this indigenous plant. The hemp flowers, seeds, and stalks can make many products such as clothing, shoes, accessories made with Hemp fibers for more natural and eco-friendly products. The oils of the plant can be used for food and extracts as a huge health benefit of our bodies Endocannabinoid System.

Part of the advocacy is in educating people about the needs and health benefits of hemp products as well as its eco-friendly sustainability. While educating people about the benefits of hemp people would ask us where they could get quality hemp products. Their plan is to provide more products made from hemp as the industry develops new items. Since the U.S. has finally made hemp legal to grow and cultivate we will see more and more hemp goods being made available. At first, they’ve focused on providing high-quality clothing, salves, lotions, extracts, oils and foods with more products added over time.

You’ve got hemp questions? We’ve got hemp answers!

Send us your hemp questions and you might hear them answered on one of our Hemp Q&A episodes. Send your written questions to us on Twitter, Facebook, [email protected], or call us and leave a message at 402-819-6417. Keep in mind, this phone number is for hemp questions only and any other inquiries for the Ministry of Hemp should be sent to [email protected]

Subscribe to our show!

Be sure to subscribe to the Ministry of Hemp podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Podbay, Stitcher, Pocketcasts, Google Play or your favorite podcast app. If you like what your hear leave us a review or star rating. It’s a quick and easy way to help get this show to others looking for Hemp information and please, share this episode on your own social media!

Become a Ministry of Hemp Insider and help spread the good word!

If you believe hemp can change the world then help us spread the word! Become a Ministry of Hemp Insider when you donate any amount on our Patreon page!

You’ll be the first to hear about everything going on with our special newsletter plus exclusive Patron content including blogs, podcast extras, and more. Visit the Ministry of Hemp on Patreon and become an Insider now!

Carolyn Virostek (insert) joined the Ministry of Hemp podcast to discuss hemp straws and some of the limitations of current hemp plastics.

Hemp Straws And The Sustainability Of Hemp: Complete episode transcript

Below you’ll find the complete transcript of episode 63 of the Ministry of Hemp podcast, “Hemp Straws And The Sustainability Of Hemp:

Matt Baum:
I’m Matt Baum, and this is the Ministry of Hemp podcast, brought to you by ministryofhemp.com, America’s leading advocate for hemp and hemp education. Welcome back to the Ministry of Hemp podcast. And I know we’ve been talking about hemp plastic a lot on the show, but there’s been a lot coming out about hemp plastic, and bio-plastics, that’s really exciting, today on the show we’re going to talk about some new completely biodegradable hemp plastics that are out there that hopefully are going to take the place of a lot of single use plastics on the market right now. But before we get to that, let’s talk about straws for a second.

Matt Baum:
Did you know that almost 500 million straws are used a day in the United States, and of those 500 million I’m going to say close to a 100% only get used once and then thrown away. Now this plastic finds its way into the ocean, into our landfills all over the place. And it’s not good for you. It’s not good for animals. It’s not good for the planet. It’s not good for anyone.

Matt Baum:
And while 500 million straws can sound like a crazy, huge number. And it is, that makes up for less than 1% of plastic pollution, which is sheer insanity. This information is coming from an article from stanford.edu, and I’ll have a link to it in the show notes, but it blows my mind. Now the good news is, there are States like Washington that have banned plastic straws. McDonald’s is moving away from plastic straws, Starbucks also did the same thing this year, and look, I don’t think paper straws are the answer either because they’re awful.

Matt Baum:
They just melt, and cutting down trees to make paper straws is not an answer. Now, there are people out there making a completely biodegradable hemp plastic. And today we start off talking about straws. My conversation today is with, Carolyn Virostek. She’s the distributor for exhemplarylife.com, who deals in all cool hemp products, including hemp straws.

Matt Baum:
And we just happen to give some away on our Instagram and at the end of the show, stay tuned because I get to reveal the winners on the end of the show. Super fun. Right? And I’m going to have a coupon code for you guys for 25% off your purchase at exhemplarylife.com. So, stay tuned for the end of the show for all of that, but first here’s my conversation with Carolyn about hemp plastic, hemp straws, and how we can make a more responsible and biodegradable plant-based plastic.

Hemp straws and the problem of plastic pollution

Matt Baum:
Carolyn, before we get into it, we’re going to talk about, I don’t even know what to call it quite honestly. You sent me these straws, and I looked at them and I said, “These look like plastic. They feel like plastic, when I drink out of them it feels like plastic in my mouth, but it’s not plastic. What am I holding here? What did I drink through the other day?”

Carolyn Virostek:
They absolutely do look like plastic. They feel like it, they don’t hold up as long as plastic, which is what the purpose of them is, because we don’t want them to last a 100-1000 years, our environment and our animals don’t need that. They are hemp-based product made out of hemp biomass. And then, we have two other products that we don’t actually divulge it’s proprietary, but none of it is PLA, which is something that a lot of plastics end up using if they’re trying to be compostable or biodegradable.

Carolyn Virostek:
Especially in the hemp industry, or really in a lot of the plastic industry where they’re trying to come up with alternative to fossil fuel plastics. They will use PLAs, sometimes a PHA, but the PLAs are the biggest ones, which, I don’t want to sound like I’m negative against PLAs, they’re great because they are a plant base, but they still have their issues with how they break down, how they need to be composted and broken down in the right environment.

Matt Baum:
Sure. So, real quick, can I ask you, what is a PLA? I have no idea, or a PLH? No clue.

Carolyn Virostek:
It’s an organic based polylactic acid, that is used as a binder within plastics as we call them. And plastic really is a term really basically, of anything that has the malleability that we can use in different products where it’s going to hold up under different circumstances. We have hard plastic, soft plastic, et cetera, but PLA is going to be an organic compound that is used as a binding agent.

Matt Baum:
Same with PLH?

Carolyn Virostek:
Right. A lot of times it’s made out of corn starch, sugar cane, and now they’re even starting to make it out of other products too, even coconut shells. So PLAs can be made from many different products.

Matt Baum:
But in these PLA products, they still have plastic in them. They’re still petroleum-based plastics that these are incorporated into?

Carolyn Virostek:
No. That’s the difference, PLAs won’t have the petroleum base. It is an advantage to use the PLAs, because we’re not using the petroleum-base, because that’s a completely different animal. And that’s what we’re trying to get away from, because petroleum-based takes so much more energy to produce, actually just to extract from the earth, to refine it and then produce it.

Carolyn Virostek:
That in itself is toxic to the environment as well as the actual product. And then what do you do with that product when you’re done with it? After drinking that water bottle that you just had for maybe an hour, what are you going to do with it? And what’s going to happen to it? Or you throw it in the garbage and it’s there for 1000 years.

Matt Baum:
Right. Aliens, discover it after human society has been wiped from the earth and go, “Well, I wonder what they did with this trash.”

Carolyn Virostek:
Right. Why did they make these? What’s this purposed for? It really does make you think about, “Well, do we really need all these plastics all the time? And how long is it going to be in our environment?” And we’re finding that it’s not good, that we are finding huge portions of it on islands where humans have not even inhabited, but here these plastics are washing up on shores.

Matt Baum:
Yeah. And like rafts of plastic that gather in the middle of the ocean and stuff, it’s insane, it’s absolutely insane.

Carolyn Virostek:
It is. And we just keep making more and more plastic, because the oil industry puts a lot of money into it and they want to keep it going.

Matt Baum:
It’s cheap too. So why not?

Carolyn Virostek:
It’s very cheap according to them. Now that brings into another conversation I have, we can say, “Yeah, it’s cheap, plastics are cheap.” And that’s the comparison between our straws, is that, our straws are more expensive than plastic. And that’s one of the issues that people have with it. And my comment as well, “You can either pay for it now, or you can pay for it later.”

Carolyn Virostek:
Because when you use plastics that are oil-based, first of all, you do pay for it. In that you’re extracting a finite material from the earth. We can’t make more of that. Whereas hemp, we can grow it every couple of months, every few months we’ve got a whole new crop.

Matt Baum:
Exactly.

Carolyn Virostek:
And it also is great for the environment. We’re not causing more toxicity by growing hemp, whereas oil, how it’s even processed and refined that takes toxicity, puts toxic waste into the environment. So right then and there, we do want to look at the cost to the environment, just in bringing it to the market. And then when we have a product just like in plastics, in our bottles or our hemp straws, one, we find it out in the rivers or out in the creeks or wherever we are.

Matt Baum:
Or in the bellies of dead animals even.

Carolyn Virostek:
Exactly, in the ocean, and then we’re losing animals because they’re eating it. It goes back to where we find the material, we have to go and get it. You’ve got to bring it in from the trash that it is, the pollution that it is. Then we have to find a way to process it. Process it into a new material to make something new.

Carolyn Virostek:
If we do that, a lot of times, many countries still burn all their plastics. So we’re increasing the toxic waste into the environment by burning it. But for them, it’s a lot easier to be able to just burn it than to actually process it into something new.

Matt Baum:
It’s cheap, right?

Carolyn Virostek:
That’s what they say, it’s cheap.

Matt Baum:
You can put those blinders on and just say, “Well, yeah, but it’s less expensive, and it does the job. And I don’t have to think about it when it gets thrown away.” But that’s not the case. Just like you said, we are pulling oil out of the earth. We are then doing something toxic to the environment to create this plastic straw that you use one time, you literally use one time and then you throw it away. And then the earth pays for it for 1000 damn years.

The problem with PLAs

Matt Baum:
We know we’re trying to get away from that, and PLH is a step better, but it’s not as good as what’s being used in these hemp straws. Now, what is the difference? You said PLH, doesn’t quite break down the same basically. It’s less durable, or it’s more durable, before we get into what’s in the hemp straws, What is the problem with PLAs?

Carolyn Virostek:
The problem with that is, and even some chemists are still debating on what it is, as far as, are PLAs biodegradable, or are they just degradable?

Matt Baum:
So we don’t even know?

Carolyn:
There’s debate, you can get one scientist. “Well, no, it’s absolutely biodegradable.” And another one will go, “It breaks down, but it’s not really biodegradable.” If we even look at that, if I can just come up with a biodegradable versus compostable, that’s the other thing, if something is deemed certified compostable, it’s also biodegradable, but something that’s biodegradable is not compostable.

Matt Baum:
Yes. Not all things that are biodegradable are compostable, but all things that are compostable are biodegradable?

Carolyn Virostek:
Right. And with the PLAs, they do debate on that. And we can say it does degrade, but it just takes longer. So PLAs can biodegrade in, as I’ve seen it as short as four years, but the average is about 80 years. So again, it will break down and it doesn’t have the toxic residue that an oil-based plastic will, if it were to break down, but it still has a cost to the environment, because these PLAs as a plastic, quote-unquote, “Break down into smaller finer materials, which then become microplastics.”

Carolyn Virostek:
And those microplastics are what we’re finding in the billions in the oceans and our creeks, and even in the glaciers, and even at the top of the mountains where it’s actually raining and snowing down in those particles, they’re such fine particles. We do find plastic bottles, plastic bags, in the stomachs of the sea life.

Carolyn Virostek:
But we’re also finding these microplastics in the smaller forms. They can’t eat a big bottle, but they’re still eating these microplastics thinking that they’re food, and they’re either dying from it or they’re carrying it on to us. So even our urine, they’re finding huge amounts of microplastics in our system.

Matt Baum:
So does it break down? Yes. But it breaks down just into really small plastic. It doesn’t break down into something that is combustible even, or compostable. It’s just really, really little pieces. And that’s not an answer either. We don’t want that.

Carolyn Virostek:
Right. With compostable, something that’s compostable, that’s going to break down and may compost. Then we can use that, that’s something usable, but when it just breaks down into microplastics, into smaller parts of it, it’s not usable and it’s not ideal.

Matt Baum:
And still dangerous.

Carolyn Virostek:
It’s still dangerous. I don’t want to make it out to be this horrible thing, because it’s a lot better than using the fossil fuels, but we still have to move a little further along to make it the right product.

Hemp straws & how they’re made

Matt Baum:
So tell me about the hemp straws then. What are these made of, and how does something that feels so completely plastic, both in your mouth and in your hand and does the job, how is it completely compostable?

Carolyn Virostek:
Well, the biggest thing is the plant, hemp. You and I both are advocates of the hemp plant.

Matt Baum:
Absolutely, it’s why we are here.

Carolyn Virostek:
Because, it can do so much for us. How many plants do we know that you could use the seeds, the fiber and the pulp, and make so many products? One of the big taglines is that, hemp can make 25,000 products. Well, that’s actually a disservice. I think it can make a lot more than 25,000 products.

Matt Baum:
Oh yeah. Totally agree.

Carolyn Virostek:
Hemp is a cellulose based product as a plant, it has cellulose just like sugar, just like the sugar cane would, even has cellulose. These are products that are used in quote-unquote “Plastics to make material.” Because, cellulose is the binding agent. It helps to support that. And as you look at hemp, the stalks and the biomass, it’s very fibrous, it’s much more fibers than wood, and that’s what gives us its strength too.

Carolyn Virostek:
If we can make hemp into say, a fine powder, and compress it under heat with some other elements that are plant-based too, is what we use. Those can actually form a very strong material in a very simple way. It can be complicated, but then it can also be very simplified. You can watch YouTube videos, where people make this in their kitchen, where they take cornstarch and water, heat it up and they make a little plastic out of it. So, hemp that’s what we’re doing also, is we’re taking hemp and making it very fine powder, like a starch and adding other materials to help bind it. And then it gets heated up and formed into straws.

Matt Baum:
So, it literally melts basically, and the cellulose works with the other binders and holds it together. And at that point you can form it just like plastic? You put it around a dowel and it becomes a straw?

Carolyn Virostek:
Exactly. Exactly. They do make them into little pellets, just like they do with the plastic, so that they can put it into the extruder machines, so they don’t have to adapt the machines for the product, but the product gets adapted for the machines. With that, then the pellets are made very small, just so they can be added to the machine. And then they get melted within that process, going through the extruder and that’s what helps to make them, now there are many products that can be made out of it too. And that’s in the futures bags, cups, you name it.

Matt Baum:
Sure. Sure. Now let me ask you, is clear a problem. Because I’ve heard in hemp plastics clear is very difficult, because of the nature of the plant green and brown, super easy?

Carolyn Virostek:
Exactly, super easy.

Matt Baum:
But clear seems to be a problem still?

Carolyn Virostek:
Yeah. Yeah. You can’t really do a clear straw, but you can do an opaque straw or we do add colors and the colors that we add are standard colors that we are able to use in the industry that are, I’m not gonna say completely plant-based natural, but they are more natural. They are able to use them to color it into any color that you need. But people do like the natural color as a hemp straw though.

Matt Baum:
Yeah. It makes sense that it’s green. It comes from hemp. I like it. It differentiates it, if nothing else. Let me ask, I take my hemp straw, I drink my drink, I throw my hemp straw away or I compost it. I actually have a compost pile in my backyard. Take it out, throw in the compost pile. How long before it’s gone?

Carolyn Virostek:
Well, it depends on your compost really, because anytime you… I would love to say that every single one’s going to compost in a certain time, but it’s going to be different. In fact, industrial composting is going to be the fastest and the best because they’re going to control the oxygen in there. They’re going to control the heat and even the microbes and all the little critters that are going to go in there and eat it up to make it into compost. How that’s going to be in your compost, is going to vary. How’s it going to change from day to day, let alone month to month, with all the different seasons.

Matt Baum:
Sure. So, let’s say industrial compost, a best case scenario?

Carolyn Virostek:
We’ve seen them biodegrade completely in 120 days.

Matt Baum:
That’s amazing. That’s like paper.

Carolyn Virostek:
Yeah. When we look at the compost, there’s really nothing that’s in there. There’s no residue. That’s the other great thing, is that a lot of times you will find some residue from that because of some of the materials that they use gunks up the systems, and facilities that are compostable facilities are very picky about what they allow in, because it will mess up their whole system.

Carolyn Virostek:
And so, you have to be certified through the BPI world compostable and biodegradable. They will give you certifications on your product, which we do have. In fact, here in Pittsburgh, we have a company that does do the compost, and they actually go around to the restaurants and bring in all their compostable material, and they found our straws and they contacted us because they said, “Are you guys really compostable? Can you share that with me?” And I said, “Yes, it is.” And gave him the information.

Carolyn Virostek:
Because he said, “Otherwise we have to pull it out.” Because it’ll just gunk up the system. I said, “No, you really will not have an issue with it.” And that’s something that you can’t say about every product that is a PLA, and even PLAs if you send them in the landfill, people think, “Oh, we’re in the landfill, if it’s biodegradable it will breakdown.” Actually it won’t, because landfills seal them up and you have no oxygen, without oxygen it’s not going to break down, and it can actually create more methane gas. It’s same as a plastic, if it’s trying to break down in that environment, because it’s not the appropriate environment.

Matt Baum:
So, I say it’s like for a month and we say no more food garbage, your food garbage goes over here. And we’ll compost that because it’s so much methane builds up when you seal it and put it away in an airtight coffin. You’ve basically created a bomb, a methane bomb at that point. Is this different than other hemp plastics? Because, I’ve spoken to some people recently on the show and brought up that like, “Oh yeah, I just did an interview with some people about hemp plastic and stuff.”

Is hemp plastic really sustainable?

Matt Baum:
And a couple of them are like, “Oh, hemp plastic? Huh. You know about that?” And I was like, “Well, I don’t follow. What do you mean?” And they’re like, “It’s a lot of hemp filler, and it’s still a lot of plastic.” Is this different than that? Have you encountered that elsewhere? And are they lying to me? Because, I’ve bought some hemp plastic products and felt really good. Like, “It’s made of hemp plastic.” Does that mean that there are different levels of this, and you’ve got to watch out for it basically?

Carolyn Virostek:
Yeah. If you look at say the 3d printers, which is a lot of hemp plastic, which again, I think it’s great that they’re using hemp and they’re wanting to make things compostable and biodegradable. But a lot of them are going to be with a PLA or PHA, which is another one too, which is actually really good. I think it would be better if we did start using PHAs more than the PLAs, but they’re still not using that.

Carolyn Virostek:
But a lot of the 3d plastic filament, I’ve not been able to find one that does not have PLAs in there. Now, they do have different components even, or I should say substance, or where it might be 25% hemp, 40%, 60%. There’s very few companies that do anything to 90, to a 100%. Now there is a company that is in France and even in Canada, where they have really a much higher percentage of hemp in their plastic.

Carolyn Virostek:
Again, we use that term. But in their filaments, they do have a much better process that they’re using and they’re trying to break into the industry and they’re doing well with it, but there’s still very few companies that are doing that.

Matt Baum:
What can you look for? I’m just curious. Is there a question that you can ask? Is there something you can look for, when you see someone that is working with hemp plastic or some way? What do I ask them to make sure… I understand it’s good that they’re using any hemp as a filler, because less plastic better, but if it’s just a filler and there’s still plastic in it, or there’s these PLAs in it and whatnot, what is the question we should be asking to make sure that we’re getting responsibly made hemp plastic, that’s going to break down and it is compostable? Is it just as simple as saying, “Hey, is this compostable?”

Carolyn Virostek:
That’s one of the questions, yeah. “Is it compostable?” And how long does it take? And also, is it a PLA? If it’s a PLA, then we know that it’s going to break down into microplastics and it’s going to take longer for it to break down, and it’s not going to be compostable it’s biodegradable, but not compostable.

Matt Baum:
And they’re going to know, if I say the word, “Hey are their PLAs in this?” They’re going to go, “Oh, this guy knows what he’s talking about.”

Carolyn Virostek:
Well, they’re going to say, “Yeah, there are PLAs, but it’s compostable.” And that’s okay. Yeah, it is. I would much rather have a 25% hemp than a no hemp, and 25% with PLA than an oil based fossil fuel that they’re using.

Matt Baum:
Definitely.

Carolyn Virostek:
That would be one thing, “Are you using any fossil fuels?” Because some will still even use PLA with some fossil fuels to bind it up, to make a little bit stronger, but then we changed the compostable ability as well as the bio-degradability.

Matt Baum:
That’s exactly the subject that was brought up with the person I was speaking with, who I’m not going to name because they asked me not to, because they’re like, “I don’t want to mess up anyone else’s good thing.” And he’s like, “But a lot of these people that are working in hemp plastic now are literally just incorporating it into old fashion oil-based plastics and using it as a filler.” Which again, better but not the answer, not what we want.

Matt Baum:
The idea is to move to something closer to these hemp straws that like you said, “Reduce in to powder, you’re adding some…” And I’m not sure, I’m not even me to look for the scientific terms, what you add to make a bind, but you heat it up and boom, we have plastic. What is the future of this? Where does this go? Is this something that you… The straws I think are so important, because if you look at single waste plastic, that is the biggest form of plastic waste out there.

The future of hemp straws

Matt Baum:
It’s not children’s toys, or even industrial plastics, it’s single use plastic. So, obviously like you said, these are a little more expensive, but the idea behind it, is it’s more responsible. Are people responding to that? Are people excited about this? Are people willing to spend a little more? And do you think this is something that is going to catch on and start to get major plastic producers to pay attention?

Carolyn Virostek:
Absolutely. There’s an excitement about it, because of the property of hemp, as well as not having the PLAs. And it is more expensive. So it is something that we have to try to get them to understand, that you either pay for it now or pay for it later. You can either pay for the straws as a cheap component and then pay for it later in the processing of having to get it off the beaches and out of the waters, et cetera, or you pay a little bit more now and then that worry is less.

Carolyn Virostek:
We still have to be responsible in how we dispose them and how we compost them. But it’s something that, if it does end up in the ocean or in the waters, it’s going to break down and we don’t have to be so concerned about the toxic residue that it might leave behind.

Matt Baum:
Yeah. It’s perfect.

Carolyn Virostek:
It’s very exciting. We have a lot of people excited about it. I will say the environment right now with the pandemic, everything’s shut down. It’s cooled things off, but what it has done also is made people more excited about realizing we need to do something now, this is not something that we need to put off for five years or try to work it into the budget because again, we either pay for them now, or we pay for that cost later. And I think right now people are really excited about having something that they know is going to break down and is not going to linger in our environment for years and years.

Matt Baum:
Correct me if I’m wrong, but sounds it like, I would guess anyway, that the price is only high because there aren’t a lot of people making this stuff yet. And as more people get into the business of making hemp plastic, that price is going to come down. Is it just a matter of producers? Because it seems like every aspect of the hemp business at present, and not just at present, but in the last we’ll say four years, their biggest issue has been finding producers to do the work.

Matt Baum:
Basically, we’ve got farmers, that’ll grow it and that’s great. But what happens next? Whether it’s going to a place that’s going to extract CBD, or take out the fiber or grind the seeds, is this just another case of, “We just need more people doing this?”

Carolyn Virostek:
Yeah. And knowing how to do it. Absolutely, because even though we are farming a lot more hemp than we were even a year ago. And a lot of companies say we’ve got so much biomass that we don’t even have the buyers for it. What it is, is that they actually don’t have the equipment or the know-how, to process it the way that they want it to, and that machinery is millions and millions of dollars.

Carolyn Virostek:
They’re bringing it out, but we’re in the growing pains, of learning how to use this product and how to use it in the best way that we can environmentally and being able to process it without any waste too. Because, we really can’t use the entire plant. We just need to know how and have the proper equipment. So, we’re in a big learning curve right now, growing pains with that.

Matt Baum:
How far off do you think we are? And just call your shot. No, one’s going to hold you to this. No, one’s going to look at the podcast in five years and be like, “Nice call.” But how far off do you think we are before, I go to Starbucks and I get a hemp straw?

Carolyn Virostek:
I’m hoping a year to two years.

Matt Baum:
Wow. Really?

Carolyn Virostek:
Yeah. That’s absolutely my hope.

Matt Baum:
That’s awesome.

Carolyn Virostek:
I will say that we had really big clients on the list, until the pandemic shut everything down. Really big companies similar to Starbucks. So it’s on the cusp there. People are wanting and ready. It’s just now we’ve we need the economy to just support it too.

Matt Baum:
So we’ve got the machines, we know how to do it. We’ve got people growing it, now it’s just a matter of showing people. Not only is this the responsible thing to do, it’s the right thing to do. And it’s a cost-effective thing to do, if we put a little know-how into it and that’s basically it, that’s our biggest issue. Just getting them to try it more or less.

Growing hemp for sustainability

Carolyn Virostek:
Yeah. Yeah. And then it will come down to a point where we do need more farmers for that biomass, because one farm is not going to be able to supply the biomass for Starbucks.

Matt Baum:
Absolutely.

Carolyn Virostek:
That’s our hope, is that we have so much demand for it that we need more farmers to be able to supply that biomass.

Matt Baum:
It also seems like there’s a lot of farmers that went into this, with the CBD gold rush idea where like, “I’m going to grow hemp and sell to CBD weirdos, and they’re going to turn it into all kinds of fake drugs for hippies and I’m going to make money.” And then they went, “Oh, that market’s not quite there.”

Matt Baum:
And in the meantime, the fiber farmers weren’t as plentiful. Because again, it seems like they’re won as many, I want to say, industrial companies that were working in hemp fiber, is that part of the issue too? Just convincing people that like, “Hey, it’s not all CBD. We can grow this for fiber and seed as well?”

Carolyn Virostek:
It’s that as well as the machinery. In order to break the hemp down into the product that you need it for, whether it’s for clothing or for, quote-unquote “plastics.” It’s having the correct machinery to break it down. And that I think is what has slowed a lot of companies down into processing it. The hemp is the passion of mine. I really do think that we should be using it more. I feel I know maybe a half a percent of what we could know about the plant, but I think we’re still learning.

Matt Baum:
That’s the most exciting part though, right?

Carolyn Virostek:
Exactly.

Matt Baum:
It’s like, how many other plants out there that farmers in the United States, in Iowa, in Nebraska, in Kentucky, in Colorado are growing right now where we’re like, “Oh my God, there’s so much more we could do with this.” What can we learn about this? It’s like, if we found out, like, “Look at that corn, we can build skyscrapers out of it.” Who knew?

Carolyn Virostek:
Who knew we could refill a car out of the corn oil?

Matt Baum:
Right. It’s crazy.

Carolyn:
We can do it, but are we doing it? That’s the same thing with hemp. We can make all these products. Why aren’t we?

Matt Baum:
Exactly.

Carolyn Virostek:
One, it is the infrastructure is not there. Also, we still have regulations that limit what can be done, in some States they’re not allowed to use the biomass or the fibers or anything for animal bedding, even just simple as that, or animal feed.

Matt Baum:
Let alone animal feed. They won’t even let them lay around in it for a fair. Like, is the cow going to get stoned? Come on, it’s ridiculous.

Carolyn Virostek:
Those things just make you question like, “Really, why aren’t we using it more?” Just like flax, that’s a plant too that can be used, and my great, great grandfather brought it over from Ireland in the 1850s to Canada. And I didn’t realize this until a few years ago when I started looking at the hemp and then I realized that he actually wrote a book in Canada about flax and the importance of flax for the fiber, for clothing, for so many different things, for food. He had a big part in bringing flax over to North America, but we’re still not using flax even to the point where we could be. Hemp is the same thing.

Matt Baum:
We put it in smoothies, and that’s about it, because it helps in digestion. Right? You can do so much more with it. It’s crazy.

Carolyn Virostek:
With hemp, even making clothing and building materials, if you’ve seen hemp wood, there’s a company, Hemp Wood.

Matt Baum:
I just interviewed them. I just interviewed them on the show. They were fantastic.

Carolyn Virostek:
I love their wood. With Hempcrete, what I think we should be doing is, especially in California, Colorado, Oregon, with all these forest fires, we need to rebuild with hemp, because if you can put a blow torch on hempcrete, why aren’t we building-

Matt Baum:
Same with hemp wood. Hemp wood barely burns, it’s crazy.

Carolyn Virostek:
And they’re antibacterial, antimicrobial. Why aren’t we using this down in South when they’ve got all these floods and hurricanes, because if it gets wet, all you got to do is bring in a dehumidifier and let it dry out.

Matt Baum:
Right. And you are good to go.

Carolyn Virostek:
Whereas now you got to tear down the whole structure because it turns to mold and mildew within three days.

Matt Baum:
Oh, but there’s a whole cottage industry for that too. So they might not be happy about losing their jobs.

Carolyn Virostek:
Exactly. And that’s why the fossil fuel industry pays $125 million a year to lobby, to keep their oils in the plastic industry. It’s just the same thing with everything else. I think we’re going to be moving towards that more and more, building materials, clothing, containers, furniture, I really hope that we can.

Matt Baum:
It’s unavoidable, because oil is going to get more and more expensive and more and more bizarre. And the ways we have to find it, we’re filtering it out of sand and stuff now, it’s going to get more and more expensive, and hemp like you said, they can grow it in a month.

Carolyn Virostek:
Right. And it doesn’t have toxic byproducts. If you fracking all that toxic byproducts that comes from the waters and it contaminates that, where is how it actually can heal the land. And creates more carbon dioxide for us. And it really can help in healing the planet. So yeah. Why aren’t we using more of it? And it’s all political, but we’re getting there.

Matt Baum:
Of course. It’s going to happen. I feel good about it. You feel good about it, we feel good about it. Right?

Carolyn Virostek:
Well, the other thing is that if you look at Europe, they’re way ahead of the game, they’ve been making clothes for decades. Now, they’re even making their cars out of hemp, the internal components, the dashboards and things are made out of hemp because it’s stronger, it’s lighter weight. So it makes the gas mileage even better.

Matt Baum:
Yeah. I interviewed a company that works with Maserati, Mercedes. It’s not like they’re making junk here. They’re making hemp plastic for very expensive high-end cars. And I asked him, “Why don’t we do this in the US?” And he goes, “Well, we don’t really want to mess with all your BS right now, as soon as you guys figure it out, we’ll be there.”

Carolyn Virostek:
Yeah. It’s got to make you question. Why is it that Europe is already making them, but we don’t have the American car manufacturer?

Matt Baum:
It’s shamefully stupid, is what it is.

Carolyn Virostek:
We also know that cars don’t have to rely on fossil fuels. Right? We can be using corn oil, hemp oil to run our cars.

Matt Baum:
Or electricity.

Carolyn Virostek:
Right. They want to tax people if they use solar energy. And it’s government regulations that are backed by these big corporations that are feeling threatened. And that’s why we lost cannabis to begin with in the 1930s, was because of political and corporate concern about getting into their space. And we’re just dealing with that in 2020.

Matt Baum:
That’s why they’re hesitating to bring it back too. I don’t want to take up any more of your time. This has been fantastic. Thank you. Thank you so much. And thank you for the straws. They’re great.

Carolyn Virostek:
Oh, you’re welcome. Thank you, Matt. I really appreciate you having me on, and making me feel at ease.

Matt Baum:
Totally. I took a box of the straws up to my local coffee shop and I was like, “Check it out. These are hemp straws.” And they were like, “Oh my God, these are amazing.” It’s like super or liberal, where you go to see dudes having Marxist conversations and stuff in Omaha, in our little blue pocket of Nebraska here in Omaha, but they loved them. So I’ll put them in touch. I’ll definitely put them in touch so they can order some.

Carolyn Virostek:
Great. Thank you, Matt. I appreciate it.

Hemp straws contest winners & Exhemplary Life coupon

Matt Baum:
Carolyn was wonderful to talk to, and she’s the type of person that is very passionate about hemp. And I love speaking to people like that. Funny story, when she initially started and I told her I wasn’t going to mention this on the show, but I thought it was funny enough that you guys should know.

Matt Baum:
When we first started talking, she was really worried that we may not be able to use the interview, because she doesn’t normally talk about this stuff. And she’s not from a science background, but as you can see, she is very well-versed in hemp plastics and bio-plastics, and it was so nice to talk to her. Thank you so much for coming on the show, Carolyn, I will have links to exhemplarylife.com in the show notes. And, like I promised you, if you use the coupon code 25 off that’s 25OFF, you will get 25% off your first purchase at exhemplarylife.com. That’s 25OFF, 25 off use that code.

Matt Baum:
Let them know that you heard about their site here on the Ministry of Hemp podcast and let them know that you appreciate what they are doing on their site. And as always, because we believe that the world is a better place for all when it’s more accessible, we have a full written transcript of this show in the show notes as well.

Matt Baum:
And now it’s contest time as promised. I get to announce the three winners of our exemplary life and Ministry of Hemp, Instagram giveaway, congratulations to @ritualsofthekitchen, @xtra_salt_xtra_lime, and @Kateanne27. You are all big winners of hemp straws and Ministry of Hemp stickers. So go tell every money you win big, when you listen to the Ministry of Hemp podcast. Oh, follow us on Instagram too, more about that in just a moment.

Final thoughts from Matt

Matt Baum:
And that brings us to the end of another exciting episode of the Ministry of Hemp podcast. If you dig what we do here on this show, and you think that hemp can change the world, the best way you can support us is to go to Patreon.com/ministryofhemp and become a Ministry of Hemp insider. It is an awesome way to help us spread the word. And you could access to podcast extras, early articles, all kinds of other stuff, not to mention you can feel better knowing you’re helping us spread the good word of hemp education.

Matt Baum:
And if you need more hemp education in your life, get over to ministryofhemp.com. Check out all our awesome articles there. Follow us on Instagram, on Twitter, on Facebook, we are either at Ministry of Hemp or /Ministry of Hemp, maybe you got hemp questions. Maybe you’ve got some subjects you’d like to hear me talk about on the show.

Matt Baum:
Call me, leave me a message. And tell me about it. 402-819-6417. Leave me a message on our Ministry of Hemp voice line. And I might answer your question on the show with little help and Drew and Kate and maybe even Deseret who you’re going to hear from soon. She’s great. She’s our videographer. We love her. Again, that number is 402-819-6417. Call us, ask your questions and you might hear us answer them right here on the show.

Matt Baum:
Now, I hope you all have a safe and happy Thanksgiving. Remember to wash your hands. I hope you’re not traveling. And if you are out there and be extra careful, please wear a mask the time for me to get out of here. And I like to sign off the same way every time by saying, “Remember to take care of yourself, remember to take care of others and make good decisions, will you?” This is Matt Baum with the Ministry of Hemp.
Signing off.

Latest posts