Have you ever thought about cotton? Like, really thought about it? Is the shirt you’re wearing made of cotton? Are you even wearing a shirt right now? If you are, is it organic? Or is it just a regular old shirt, weighed down by pesticides, herbicides, and the crushing guilt of ruining our environment? It better be organic, at least if Neil Young has anything to say about it. In a long and rambling post on his website, the singer and Pono creator warns against the dangers of non-organic cotton and says that he has removed all non-organic t-shirts and products from his merchandise lineup. He’s also giving away a free organic cotton t-shirt that says “PROTECT / EARTH” at every one of his shows. And, of course, he’s taken a personal vow to PROTECT EARTH (emphasis his), which he encourages you to do as well. Read his whole rant below.
Friends, on my last tour of Europe, I started to give our music loving audience free organic cotton t-shirts as a way to show that we appreciate you. Your shirts’ cotton is grown in the most earth friendly way. Feel it. Isn’t it the best cotton you have ever felt?
They’re free but there is a catch –
Here’s the catch –
I’m hoping that when you wear your PROTECT / EARTH t-shirt, you will vow to PROTECT EARTH & to take a stand for EARTH in the ways that you can.
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.
I vow to speak up & to do what I can to PROTECT EARTH. Here’s why your PROTECT & EARTH shirts are made from 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….
ORGANIC COTTON is the wiser option for both the health of people and the environment
(hemp is even better – especially when in relation to water consumption, but at the moment it’s not as readily available)
ORGANIC FARMING – uses nontoxic pesticides, fungicides & herbicides
What you can do -
• 75 to 80 percent of your garment’s lifecycle impact [the sum of environmental impacts caused by a product's existence] comes from washing and drying
• consider your laundry habits- they can multiply the benefits of organic cotton
Some things to try -
• line dry instead of machine dry & skip ironing your t-shirts ( these 2 things can save up to a 1/3rd of you t-shirts carbon footprint)
• wash only when you have a full laundry load & less often
• wash with cold water
• use non toxic biodegradable cleaners – they work and they don’t damage EARTH
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
[Photo by Tristan Fewings/Getty.]