Not only is Neil Young partnering with the Rainforest Connection to fight the destruction of the tropical rainforest, he’s also calling on his fans to kick their conventional cotton habit.
“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 on his website. “I vow to speak up & to do what I can to PROTECT EARTH.”
In fact, on tour he has started to give out free organic cotton t-shirts, which he sees as a catalyst for action. “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.”
On his website, Young provides a variety of facts about conventional cotton, like the fact that cotton is the most widely used textile crop on earth, covering almost 5% of Earth’s cultivated land, and that cotton is second for most pesticide use of all crops.
Quite the activist, Young is no newbie when it comes to working for the environment. His Honour the Treaties tour raised more than $75,000 for Alberta’s fight against tar sands development. He was so influential in his campaign there was even a campaign against him called Neil Young Lies set up by a pro-oil organization.
Young was also one of the co-founders of Farm Aid, along with Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp, a concert to raise awareness about the loss of family farms and to raise funds to keep farm families on their land. Since then, Dave Matthews has joined the Farm Aid Board of Directors, and today the organization has raised more than $45 million.
His conventional cotton boycott comes on the heels of his Rainforest Connection partnership. With the nonprofit, he’s working to develop and deploy recycled cell phones in Indonesia, Africa and the Amazon, not as cell phones but as real-time monitoring devices that can pick up the sounds of chainsaws and poachers using guns, and can in turn alert the authorities so that they can be apprehended.
“Climate change is the defining issue of the 21st Century – there are a lot of factors but these forests are one of the big ones. This enables the forest to talk to the world. When the forest is threatened it can speak and you can hear it,” Young told The Independent.
Cotton, forests, tar sands and farms. Young has a lot on his plate these days. Let’s just hope he has time to keep singing.
Photo Credit: Shane Hirschman