By: Katie Lemon
When it comes to jute vs hemp, there’s often a lot of confusion about what sets these two plant fibers apart from one another. Unlike when comparing other natural fibers like hemp vs bamboo or hemp vs linen, at first it might seem like jute and hemp are practically the same. But that isn’t the case.
1. JUTE VS HEMP PLANTS
What is jute, and is it the same as hemp? Here are some quick facts on each kind of plant and what sets them apart from one another, as well as what they have in common.
- Mostly produced from plants in the genus Corchorus
- A bast fiber, meaning the fibers are collected from the inner flesh of the plant
- Used to make burlap, hessian, and gunny cloth
2. GROWING HEMP VS JUTE
In addition to being very different plants, both hemp and jute grow best in different regions and conditions. Hemp has been cultivated in Asia and the Middle East for millenia, but is now grown worldwide. Hemp grows best in a mild climate, with decent humidity and rainfall. Right now, most of the world’s hemp fibers come from hemp in China.
Jute grows best in a warm and humid climate, like one provided by monsoons. Jute also flourishes in sandy loam soil, which allows for better drainage. Today, nearly 85% of the world’s jute is cultivated in the Ganges Delta, which includes regions of India and Bangladesh. The monsoon season that arrives every year in this region provides the perfect conditions for jute cultivation.
3. JUTE VS HEMP ECO-FRIENDLINESS
Here’s the good news: both of these natural fibers make for some of the most sustainable fabrics out there! Just like jute hemp is biodegradable and can be grown without the use of any pesticides. Both plants also require less water and maintenance than conventional cotton to grow and can still produce a significant crop yield.
That being said, there are a few differences between hemp vs jute when it comes to their eco-friendliness:
- Unlike jute hemp actually improves the soil it’s grown in—using a process called phytoremediation, hemp absorbs toxins from the soil, leaving it healthier than before.
- Hemp has naturally long tap roots, which help to prevent erosion over time.
- More parts of the hemp plant can be used and therefore less goes to waste; for example the seeds can be eaten and CBD can be extracted and used for a variety of medical conditions.
4. JUTE VS HEMP FIBERS
Both hemp and jute are some of the longest and strongest natural fibers in the world, and at first glance may seem very similar. Because they’re both bast fibers, they’re made into fabric using a process called retting. The most eco-friendly form of retting is dew or field retting, in which the plants are left outside to soften from natural dew before the fibrous materials are extracted from the rough exterior of the plant.
Once made into fabrics, jute and hemp can be quite different. That’s because jute is rather rough against the skin, whereas hemp is a bit softer, especially when blended with other eco-friendly fabrics like organic cotton. This makes hemp a far more popular choice for sustainable clothing like hemp shorts, hemp socks, and more.
5. JUTE VS HEMP USES
- Sturdier materials, like hemp shoes and hempcrete
- Eco-friendly alternatives like bioplastics and biofuel
- As a healthy lifestyle supplement, via natural hemp seeds and/or hemp-derived CBD
On the other hand, jute is just used for fabric. Plus, jute is much rougher to the touch than hemp—and is therefore mostly utilized for outdoor uses. And where hemp is used for even the most delicate clothing items like a cozy triangle bralette or high waisted underwear, jute is best put to use to make coarse cloth used for shopping bags, rugs, and more.
JUTE VS HEMP: CONCLUSION
Both jute and hemp are versatile, sustainable plants—but they’re not even close to being the same plant or fabric. However, both of these natural fibers have their place in an eco-friendly world and lifestyle.
While hemp is ideal for your new favorite pair of hipster panties or mens briefs, jute still deserves recognition for it’s low impact on the environment and it’s rugged ability to withstand outdoor use as a naturally coarse cloth.
Did you know just how different hemp and jute were? Which natural fiber do you prefer? Tell me what you think in the comments below.