By Evan Minsker
Neil Young has taken a stand on many environmental issues (like co-founding Farm Aid and preaching about the benefits of the electric car). As Stereogum points out, he’s now turned his attention toward the fabric of our lives. In a note on his website, he explains that he’s transitioning away from selling t-shirts made from non-organic cotton and is encouraging fans to purchase organic clothing.
On his last European tour, he handed out free organic cotton shirts that said “PROTECT” and “EARTH”. “I vow to speak up & to do what I can to PROTECT EARTH,” he writes. “Take a personal vow, as I have, to make a difference in any way you can. Share the information you find here and elsewhere that illuminates the threats & the solutions to PROTECT EARTH.”
Here’s his reasoning for boycotting non-organic cotton:
- Cotton is the most widely used textile crop on earth – covering almost 5% of Earth’s cultivated land
- Cotton is second for most pesticide use of all crops & it uses 25% of all of the petrochemical based pesticides, fungicides and herbicides globally
- In the US, it takes about 1/3 of a pound of pesticides and herbicides to grow enough conventional cotton for just one T-shirt.
- 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
- Because cotton is grown primarily for its fiber, it is regulated as a non-food crop yet the majority of the cotton plant in the form of cottonseed, approximately 60% by weight, ends up in our food supply.
- Most cotton is heavily processed using additional resources for stripping, waxing, bleaching, dying and softening
- 2,700 liters of water is used to grow the cotton for just 1 t-shirt!!!
( & that doesn’t even account for the processing dying etc….)
- That’s enough water for 1 person to drink for 900 days or enough water to flush your ( non low flow) toilet 270 times!
- All this & then there’s all the energy consumption as well in growing, manufacturing, processing, transportation etc….
In addition to endorsing organic cotton, he encourages people to think carefully about their laundry habits. Go ahead and read up on Neil Young’s eco-friendly laundry pro tips here.