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On his last tour of Europe, Neil Young gave the audience free organic-cotton T-shirts as a token of his appreciation. There was one catch, however. “I’m hoping that when you wear your PROTECT/EARTH T-shirt, you will vow to PROTECT EARTH and to take a stand for EARTH in the ways that you can,” the classic rocker wrote on his website on Friday. Young announced that he is removing all conventional cotton T-shirts, along with other planet-damaging merchandise, from his concerts and online stores. “I vow to speak up and to do what I can to PROTECT EARTH,” he added, urging his fans to follow suit.

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Young launched into a bullet-point list of why organic cotton is superior to its pesticide-sprayed brethren. “In the U.S., it takes about 1/3 of a pound of pesticides and herbicides to grow enough conventional cotton for just one T-shirt,” he said. “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.”

Hemp is even better, especially in relation to water consumption. “But at the moment it’s not as readily available,” he said. Organic cotton, then, is the “wiser option” for both people and planet, Young added.

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Young had dedicated the latter part of his career to environmental causes. The musician, along with Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp, is a co-founder of Farm Aid, an annual concert that promotes family-farm-centered agriculture. Young has also lent his support to Rainforest Connection, a group that wants to place retrofitted cellphones in trees around the rainforest so they can pick up sounds of illegal logging and poaching in real time.

“Climate change is the defining issue of the 21st century,” Young said in a video for Rainforest Connection’s Kickstarter campaign. “This technology enables the forest to talk to the world. When the forest is threatened, the forest can speak and you can hear it.”

+ Neil Young

[Via Rolling Stone]