There seems to be a common setback for people afraid to make their dreams become a reality: They don’t know where to start. Not having experience in something doesn’t make you any less capable of creating greatness or fulfilling your passions, but it does take an open mind, a whole lot of patience, and ultimately, the confidence that you can do it.
In a world where old age seems to work against people’s confidence in you, Pam Bosch shows having confidence in yourself is all it really takes to prove them wrong. The grandmother from Bellingham, Washington, has never built a home before, but is breaking barriers in the tiny home movement through what she views as a pioneering experiment in sustainable living.
Her organization, called Highland Hemp House, used imported hemp from Europe to construct tiny homes boasting model energy and resource efficiency.
“Anybody can do this. Grandma can do this. Grandma’s doing it,” the 62-year-old artist says. Bosch was determined to build homes out of hemp after learning about its incredible sustainability and the minimal impact it has on the planet compared to other building materials.
“We should have as many buildings as we can that are built out of a renewable resource that sequesters carbon, that is healthy and if it were legal would be very affordable. It’s an agricultural waste product we’re using,” she continued.
Hemp is considered a dangerous substance by the DEA and is classified a schedule I drug, like heroin and ecstasy, despite the plant containing almost no THC and having zero psychoactive effects. The classification is thought by many to be backed by the oil industry, which sees hemp as a profitable threat, thanks to it being one of the best alternatives to plastics, fuel, and various building materials.
Hemp is also valuable to farmers, who can use it for soil remediation, plastic composites, organic body care, biofuels, and health foods. In Washington, hemp is now legal for livestock feed, but requires permission from the DEA until other uses are legalized and regulated.
For building a tiny hemp home, Bosch says it’s great for creating the plaster, so long as weather conditions are right. “You want conditions like we’re starting to see now – overcast, high humidity, because you don’t want it to dry out too fast,” she notes.
Because permits for hemp houses don’t exist, Bosch has to stay within 120 square feet. “I’m investing in this because I believe in it and believe someone’s got to do it to make it legal,” she says.
Human impact on the planet continues to change our environment, making it essential that we become more conscious of how and with what materials we build things.
Tiny homes contribute to the awareness that we can thrive in smaller spaces while also creating a sustainable future.
Check out the video below to see how Bolsch is becoming a pioneer in the tiny home movement, and proves that anyone can do it.
Have You Ever Heard About Hempcrete?
When it comes to new and sustainable housing ideas, it seems to always be about creating a more efficient home in terms of insulation, lighting, electricity, etc. Mainstream belief on the subject would have you believe that top corporations and government projects are working with the best possible technology to bring forth solutions that work and are going to be great for the environment. If that was truly the case, I can guarantee you that the whole world would be using Hempcrete right now. Haven’t heard of it? I’m not too surprised.
First off, what is Hempcrete? Hempcrete is a building material that incorporates hemp into its mixture. Hempcrete is very versatile as it can be used for wall insulation, flooring, walls, roofing and more. It’s fire-proof, water-proof, and rot-proof as long as it’s above ground. Hempcrete is made from the shiv or inside stem of the hemp plant and is then mixed with a lime base binder to create the building material. This mixture creates a negative carbon footprint for those who are concerned with the carbon side of things. Hempcrete is much more versatile, easy to work with and pliable than concrete. In fact, earthquakes cannot crack these structures as they are 3 times more resistant than regular concrete.
Since lime is the binding material, builders do not have to heat up the lime as much as a supplier would need to in the industrial creation of concrete. This results in a lot of energy conservation when producing Hempcrete vs. concrete. Jumping back to the carbon aspect, Hempcrete sequesters (hides or puts away) carbon as it is very high in cellulose. Through it’s growing life cycle, it takes in large amounts of carbon which is then built into the home or building it is being used to construct. This does not allow the carbon to be released into the atmosphere. A home can save about 20,000lbs of carbon when being built out of Hempcrete
Hempcrete is a much more superior building material due to the fact that it is a very strong, lightweight and breathable material. When used as exterior walls, it lets water in without rotting or damaging the material. In a practical sense, instead of needing to build homes with space between exterior walls, which are then filled with insulation, you can simply use a Hempcrete wall. As humidity is taken in from the external environment, the Hempcrete holds that humidity until it is ready to be released again when the climate is less humid. Since the lime is wrapped in cellulose, the lime takes a bit longer for it to fully petrify but is still incredibly strong. Over time, the lime looks to turn back to a rock, so the material becomes harder and harder until it petrifies completely. This means the wall will last thousands of years vs. 40 – 100 like normal building materials today. Another great aspect to Hempcrete is that if too much is mixed during building, you can return it to the soil as a great fertilizer. Since hemp grows to maturity in just 14 weeks, it is a very powerful, versatile, cheap and sustainable solution.
Other notable factors are that hemp requires no fertilizer, weed killer pesticide or fungicide to grow it. The hemp seed can be harvested as a nutritious food rich in Omega-3 oil, amino acids, protein and fiber. It is considered a “super food”. The outer fibers can be used for clothes, paper and numerous every day items. This truly is a very powerful plant and should be a no brainer when it comes to it being used in a very mainstream way.
Why Is Hemp Illegal?
Hemp looks very much like marijuana and is technically in the same family of plants. But unlike modern maryjane, it does not contain anywhere near the amount of THC needed for someone to get high if they were to smoke it. The funny thing is, in the United States, hemp is just as illegal to grow as marijuana is. But how can this be? If we can’t get high from it, then what’s the problem?
In the past, hemp was used for many things: clothes, cars, plastics, building materials, rope, paper, linens, food, medicine and so on. In fact, it used to be mandatory in the United States for farmers to grow hemp if they had the land. You can find out even more about hemp here.
The fact is, hemp was very popular throughout the 1800s and 1900s because it was incredibly useful and easy to grow, and its derived products were so long lasting. But one day that all changed; it became illegal and so did its friend cannabis (marijuana). How did this happen?
During Hoover’s presidency, Andrew Mellon became Hoover’s Secretary of the Treasury and Dupont’s primary investor. He appointed his future nephew-in-law, Harry J. Anslinger, to head the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs.
Secret meetings were held by these financial tycoons. Hemp was declared dangerous and a threat to their billion dollar enterprises. For their dynasties to remain intact, hemp had to go. This then led them to take an obscure Mexican slang word – ‘marihuana’ – and push it into the consciousness of America. The reason why they changed the name was because everyone knew of hemp and how amazing it was for the world. They would never be able to get away with banning hemp, so they used a name they knew no one would recognize.
Not long after this plan was set in place, the media began a blitz of ‘yellow journalism’ in the late 1920s and 1930s. Yellow journalism is essentially journalism where stories with catchy headlines are put into the mainstream media to get attention, yet these stories are not well researched or backed up. They are often used simply to sway public opinion. Many newspapers were pumping stories emphasizing the horrors and dangers of marihuana. The “menace” of marihuana made headlines everywhere. Readers learned that it was responsible for everything from car accidents to looser morals, and it wasn’t long before public opinion started to shape.
Next came several films like Reefer Madness (1936), Marihuana: Assassin of Youth (1935) andMarihuana: The Devil’s Weed (1936), which were all propaganda films designed by these industrialists to create an enemy out of marihuana. Reefer Madness was possibly the most interesting of the films, as it depicted a man going crazy from smoking marijuana and then murdering his family with an axe. With all of these films, the goal was to gain public support so that anti-marihuana laws could be passed without objection.
Have a look at the following regarding marihuana from The Burning Question, aka Reefer Madness:
- A violent narcotic
- Acts of shocking violence
- Incurable insanity
- Soul-destroying effects
- Under the influence of the drug he killed his entire family with an axe
- More vicious, more deadly even than these soul-destroying drugs (heroin, cocaine), is the menace of marihuana!
Unlike most films with a simple ending, Reefer Madness ended with bold words on the screen: TELL YOUR CHILDREN.
In the 1930s, things were different from today in significant ways. The population did not question authority or the media to the extent that we do now, and they did not have tools like the Internet to quickly spread information and learn about things that were happening. Most built their opinions and beliefs off of the news via print, radio, or cinema. As a result (and thanks to the explicit instruction of mainstream news), many people did tell their children about marihuana. Thus, public opinion about this plant was formed.
On April 14, 1937, the Prohibitive Marihuana Tax Law, the bill that outlawed hemp, was directly brought to the House Committee on Ways and Means. Simply put, this committee is the only one that could introduce a bill to the House floor without it being debated by other committees. At the time, the Chairman of the Ways and Means was Robert Doughton, who was a Dupont supporter. With vested interest, he insured that the bill would pass in Congress.
In an attempt to prevent the bill from being passed, Dr. James Woodward, a physician and attorney, attempted to testify on behalf of the American Medical Association. He mentioned that the reason the AMA had not denounced the Marihuana Tax Law sooner was that the Association had just discovered that marihuana was hemp (or at least a strain of it).
Hemp and marijuana are both varieties of Cannabis sativa, but this distinction was purposefully obscured from the public. Since the law was not focused on banning one or the other, both found their way into the ban. The AMA recognized cannabis/marihuana as a medicine found in numerous healing products sold that had been used for quite some time. The AMA, like many others, did not realize that the deadly menace they had been reading about in the media was in fact hemp.
In September of 1937, hemp prohibition began. What was arguably the most useful plant known to man at the time, at least in the West, became illegal to grow and use: cannabis (marijuana) and hemp, one used to give a bad name to the other, even though neither should have realistically garnered that negative backlash. To this day, this plant is still illegal to grow in the United States.
To the public, Congress banned hemp and cannabis because it was said to be a violent and dangerous drug. In reality, hemp does nothing more than act as an amazing resource to virtually any industry and any product, and cannabis is and can be a useful medical substance that, when administered correctly, can have many benefits. But it should also be mentioned that cannabis has been abused over the years and does have its negative side effects. This is a reality many in the community don’t want to admit but it has to be said. We know the effects it has on regular users under 25 years old as well as what heavy regular use can do to serotonin levels. 
Fast forward to today, and it is clear we are in some trouble when it comes to how we treat our environment. The resources and practices we use today for energy, as well as product creation, are very harmful and toxic to not just our planet but ourselves. Despite the awareness that exists about hemp as an option to transform how things can be done on this planet, governments continue to ban this plant, and it is still often mistaken for marihuana due to their similar appearance.
Luckily, much more cultural and regulatory progress is being made on the side of cannabis to not only illustrate the value of it medically, but also to better understand its potential dangers. This helps to work out the difference between fact and fiction so we can use the plant responsibly while taking advantage of its benefits.