Just a few days after announcing his collaboration with Rainforest Connection, Neil Young took to his website to expound on another environmental issue close to his heart. Jumping off from a note about the distribution of free organic cotton t-shirts during his last tour of Europe, Young announced that he is boycotting non-organic cotton and urged his fans to do the same.
“Today, I have taken the steps to remove sales of non-organic t-shirts and other products that damage the Earth from my concerts and my web stores,” Young wrote. “I vow to speak up & to do what I can to PROTECT EARTH.”
Young then provided a bullet-pointed list of scary facts about cotton production, which he notes covers almost 5% of Earth’s cultivated land with its crops. “Cotton is second for most pesticide use of all crops & it uses 25% of all of the petrochemical based pesticides, fungicides and herbicides globally,” he says. “The Environmental Protection Agency considers seven of the top 15 pesticides used on cotton in the United States as ‘possible,’ ‘likely,’ ‘probable,’ or ‘known’ human carcinogens (acephate, dichloropropene, diuron, fluometuron, pendimethalin, tribufos, and trifluralin). These chemicals absorb into the soil which can affect nearby crops, get into water supplies and rivers and affect many lifeforms downstream.”
Young follows the information about cotton agriculture with a few tips on sustainable laundry habits, noting that most of a garment’s environmental impacts come from washing and drying. Among the rumpled-rocker-friendly tips, he suggests line-drying over machine drying, skipping the iron and washing less often. He also notes that hemp is an even better choice than organic cotton, but less widely available.
Young has long been involved in environmental activism, from his role as a Farm Aid co-founder to the promotion of his LincVolt electric car. He’ll be headlining Farm Aid, along with Jack White, Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews, on September 13th in Raleigh, North Carolina. Young will also resume his solo acoustic tour of American theaters this fall.