|Disruption is not just about fighting. It’s all about showing an alternative way of seeing and being. People need to see your vision to believe it.|

Do you remember those kids at school who didn’t fit in?

The ones who broke the rules, refused to conform, rejected authority or quietly succumbed, but with that knowing glint in their eye? It told you they were simply choosing to avoid confrontation.

Those kids always intrigued me and, if I think back on it now, they were also the ones I remember most, far better than the ones who fitted in because they “played by the book”. These kids are the original disruptors.

The individuals who challenge us to look outside the norm, who make us question the boundaries and break the rules when they stop making sense, or start causing pain and discomfort. I wasn’t one of those kids, but sometimes life calls on you to stand up, and kick sand in the face of a playground bully and say, “no more”.

That day for me was when I first held a piece of hemp canvas in my hands. It had been imported from China by a friend’s father, and it was a thing of great beauty and confusion.

Hemp? Canvas? What were these positive uses for this evil weed, I wondered.

Growing up in Cape Town, I knew all too well what dagga/marijuana was, which meant I had no clue as to its actual uses. The leaf had become a symbol of something evil, dangerous, and above all, illegal. My truth was about to be disrupted, mostly through my friend and business partner, Duncan Parker, when I learned that the plant was a solution to many social ills, not the cause of them.

This “evil” plant could produce strong fibres, nutritious protein-packed seeds, and healthy oils, eco-construction materials, tree-free paper, medicine and more – and all in a way that wouldn’t harm the planet. Here was something worth fighting for.


So, I made it my life’s mission to disrupt the way society treats and labels this miracle plant.

And a disruptor I will remain.

|We need to be brilliant at communicating WHY we need to change, and follow that by giving people the tools HOW to do it.|

Here are some hard truths I have learnt (and learnt to love) along the way:

The truth is not enough When I became aware of all the amazing uses for cannabis, I naively thought it would just be a matter of telling others. I could get them to wake up to the opportunities that hemp could bring South Africa. I was wrong. People fear change. People don’t like you challenging their long-held beliefs.

Cognitive dissonance is real. Recognise this, and work with it, not against it.

It can be a lonely path

Being a disruptor can put you at odds with those around you, and society at large. It means taking risks, breaking the status quo, always searching, and believing in a better way – even if the authorities and your peers tell you that you are wrong or misguided.

I got used to being branded “alternative/hippy/ stoner/dreamer”, and people asking, “Can I smoke your shirt?” because it was made of hemp. Sometimes it’s good to be the kid that doesn’t fit in.

Seeing is believing

Disruption is not just about fighting. It’s all about showing an alternative way of seeing and being. People need to see your vision to believe it. In the early days, I carried around a bag with samples of hemp products, such as hempcrete bricks, chipboard, hemp bio-plastic, twines, ropes, oils and more.

I whipped them out to show people at any given opportunity. Our company, Hemporium, was created to showcase all that hemp could offer, from clothing to accessories, body-care products and even a house built from hemp. Being a positive ambassador is part of disruption.

The impact and reach is bigger than you

I found that my message spread wider than hemp alone. It covers broader environmental issues and eco-consciousness, inspiring others to consider the planet when making decisions, and to be responsible for their footprint. See the bigger picture and educate yourself about how it all fits together. We need to be brilliant at communicating WHY we need to change, and follow that by giving people the tools HOW to do it.

Be prepared for a long road to freedom

It’s been 21 years since we first started this journey with Hemporium, and only now are people finally seeing cannabis as a gift, and not an enemy. It is supported by the positive experiences in the hemp industries in places like Canada and Europe, and through the relief and healing experienced with the help of medicinal marijuana.

join us for our next installment in our hemp awareness evenings, this time exploring the topic of “Sustainability & Style” ✨✨ We will be hosting a guest speaker: Jasmari Ferreira, founder of local sustainable fashion label @falconandwolfza. Jasmari will touch on topics including the psychology of clothing, using colour and style to communicate, and the future of sustainable fashion. Jasmari is a driven and passionate proponent of a more conscious and eco-friendly way of life. Hemporium’s Tony Budden will be sharing his expertise, gathered from two decades of pioneering sustainability in SA. Apart from founding arguably the greenest company on the local scene, Tony is also a member of the Fashion Revolution SA team, who are actively redefining fashion paradigms and forging the way forward. *PLUS* Mom’s Day promotions, 25% off selected stock and free gift for purchases over R300 on the night ❤❤ See you at 15 Bell Crescent Westlake Business Park at 6.30 pm to 8.30pm on the 4th of May 🌿🌿✨✨ #cannabis #industrialhemp #hemp #style #sustainability #fashion #future #ecofriendly #events #capetown

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The battle is never over

We may have broken through some old mindsets, but we still have one big barrier to tackle – the South African law. This one line “cannabis, the whole plant, and any part thereof…is an undesirable dependence producing substance.”

This means that we cannot grow cannabis commercially, no matter what we intend using it for. So, on we fight, this time against the state, not just the status quo.


We know the days of this blanket ban are severely numbered. We will overcome. It’s just a matter of time. And patience. You will need to have both, in vast supplies, if you really want to change the world.

More about Tony Budden:

Budden is a partner in Hemporium, South Africa’s premier hemp company. Hemporium has been designing and producing hemp clothing locally since 1996. They have an eco-clothing range that showcases the benefits of natural fibres and using sustainable textiles, as well as having a commitment to local garment manufacture. Hemporium built Africa’s first Hemp House, which is a recognised World Design Capital 2014 project.

It has been instrumental in launching hemp as a revolutionary new construction material to South Africa. Budden is also involved in South Africa’s Commercial Incubation Hemp Research Trials, moving towards a legitimate hemp industry.

He is passionate about raising environmental issue awareness, and hopes to play a part in implementing the changes necessary to correct the ecological balance of our planet.

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