Silky Fabrics Made from Wood?! “Green Deen” Author–Ibrahim Abdul-Matin, The Conservation Fund, JEEP, Uganda

by | Feb 1, 2022 | Podcasts, The Climate Daily

Can you really make silky fabrics from wood?! Plus “Green Deen” author, Ibrahim Abdul-Matin. The Conservation Fund, and JEEP Uganda.



Here’s a cool, powerful tool for fighting climate change—JEEP. JEEP stands for Joint Energy and Environment Projects. It’s an indigenous development, non-governmental organization in Uganda. It was founded in 1983 after deforestation and soil erosion were identified as major threats to the health and welfare of Ugandans. These issues were deemed as primary contributing factors to the human disaster in the Horn of Africa.

JEEP has created environmental awareness at all levels of societies; influencing policies and integrating environmental considerations in all aspects of social, economic and cultural development through ensuring that households use energy efficient technologies, agro-forestry and sustainable agriculture; foster and bring concrete impacts in terms of food and fuel – wood security, improved nutrition, increased incomes and raised standards of living.

Today, JEEP carries out training and awareness seminars, focusing on environmental conservation and energy-saving technologies. JEEP uses a grassroots, practical approach and reaches out primarily to rural farmers. Its activities include:

  1. Awareness, Training & Extension
  2. Tree Planting
  3. Constructions and Promotion of Energy-Saving Stoves
  4. Solar Energy
  5. Others (Advocacy, Consultation & Networking, Research & Farming)

Some of JEEP’s current projects include supporting the East African Civil Society for Sustainable Energy and Climate Action, the Clean Environment Initiative Project, and the Green Ambassadors Club.

The Green Ambassadors Club is an initiative to encourage and motivate mostly young people to realize a more ecological future. We do this by appealing to people’s different drives and present, in accordance to the sustainable development goals, environmentally friendly and practical ways to achieve their goals. 

Why does JEEP matter to non-Ugandans? Because of its almost 40 years of success shepherding dozens of projects and initiatives in throughout Uganda and sub-Saharan Africa. JEEP’s got lessons aplenty to share with all of us. And it also is an ever-evolving organization, maintaining its relevancy in the era of climate change.

DEEPER DIVE: JEEP, Green Ambassador Club



Ibrahim Abdul-Matin, a Black Muslim environmentalist and author, shares his story and stories of other Muslims across the country living an earth-conscious life inspired by Islam in his book, Green Deen: What Islam Teaches About Protecting the Planet.” In it, he examines Islamic principles and how they can be applied to water, waste, energy, and food. Green Deen means environmental path or green way. Green is self-explanatory.. “Deen” is an Arabic word for “way of life.”

Abdul-Matin’s parents taught him about living green and love of nature as a child. But it wasn’t until 2008 when the idea of the book became more of a reality. The idea struck him while attending the “The Dream Reborn” conference of environmental justice activists in Memphis, Tennessee.

He wanted to know what the ordinary person thought. He went to a diner and asked a patron, “What do you think of climate change?” The response, “I think it’s something Democrats want me to be afraid of. Just like Republicans want me to be afraid of terrorists.” He knew then that the environmental movement needed a deeper, spiritual reason for people to become involved. 

Why does “Green Deen” matter to us? Abdul-Matin wants to connect an already growing movement of environmentalists from the Islamic community to the rest of the world. He also wants people of all beliefs to be able to appreciate “the gifts and contributions that Islam and Muslims bring to the environmental movement.”

As NPR’s John Hockenberry put it,  “Green Deen: What Islam Teaches About Protecting the Planet” shows us that the imperiled environment is both common struggle and common ground for everyone. 

DEEPER DIVE:  Green Biz, Sound Vision, WorldCat, Amazon



As part of its “At the Oscars” initiative, Red Carpet Green Dress partnered with Lenzing, a 130-year old manufacturer of fibers for fashion, beauty care, cleaning and hygiene, to create TENCEL™ Luxe. Tencel Luxe is a sustainable filament fiber. Its botanic lyocell filaments are made from wood pulp sourced from sustainable wood in line with Lenzing’s strict Wood and Pulp Policy. 

Austria-based Lenzig has a long history of making fibers from wood.  It started as a wood pulp producer back in 1893. And in 1947, it began to produce a clothing fiber called viscose. 

Viscose is a semi-synthetic type of rayon fabric made from wood pulp that’s used as a silk substitute.  Viscose is biodegradable, but the production process is a major water and air polluter, which creates severe health impacts on local communities where viscose is manufactured.

RCGD and Lenzig collaborated to evolve away from viscose and into TENCEL™ Luxe in 2017. Tencel Luxe is sustainable cellulose filament fiber, meant to be blended with other noble fibers such as silk, cashmere or wool. 

The big difference between viscose and TENCEL is in the production. Lenzig created a closed-loop production cycle where chemicals are recovered, converted and returned to the production process as raw materials. More than 99% of the solvent is recovered and used again. This is part of what makes Lenzing’s products “green”.

Why do Lenzing’s innovations matter to us?  Lenzing has aligned itself with both the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal, no. 13, which is to “Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.” Lenzing Group’s target is to reduce CO2 emissions 50 percent per ton of product by 2030 is in line with the Paris Agreement, too.

Stefan Doboczky, chief executive officer of the Lenzing Group said, “We are committed to setting industry standards in order to enhance the protection of our environment.”

(Lenzing has since rolled out two other products– EcoVero branded viscose fibers with a high sustainability quotient, and  Refibra, an innovative fiber made from cotton scraps and wood. That one is the first cellulose fiber featuring recycled material to be offered on a commercial scale.)



Last week we featured a story about the protection of 13,000 acres of forest land adjacent to Florida’s Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge through a conservation partnership. Leading the charge was The Conservation Fund.

The Conservation Fund was founded in 1985 by Patrick Noonan. Noonan developed a deep love of nature in his childhood in Maryland. That love led him to the creation of the Fund. The MacArthur Foundation awarded Noonan a “genius” grant in 1985 for his work.

According to its website, “Today we face climate change, inefficient systems for water and land use, damaging agricultural practices, as well as resistance to acknowledge the real value of the natural world on which we so heavily rely.” 

The Fund invests over 95% of its annual spending directly into conservation programs to ensure that America’s most critical lands and waters are there for future generations. To date, the Conservation Fund has saved more than 8 million acres of land and water in all 50 states with projects, for example, securing 1,000 acres to expand wildlife in Tennessee.

Why does The Conservation Fund matter to us? The Fund fosters partnerships between business and the environmental community to ensure the protection of properties with ecological, historic and/or cultural significance. It does so through strong partnerships with government, business and colleague organizations.

DEEPER DIVE:  Southeast AgNet, Conservation Fund, AP