Tell outdoor retailer REI to take toxic ‘forever chemicals’ out of their apparel!

From waterproof jackets to boots, outdoor gear sold at REI and other retailers like Columbia Sportswear contains ‘forever chemicals’ called PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances). Recent science shows us that the production, use, and disposal of these products pollute people and the planet. These chemicals also make their way into our waterways through the washing and laundry process. 

Exposure to PFAS has been linked to harmful health impacts, including cancer, hormone disruption, and immune system problems. Many of OEC’s staff and members love to recreate outside and in the wilderness. Our outdoor gear should not contribute to the pollution of waterways, animals, and the environment.

How do we make that happen? We demand these retailers make progress on chemical safety or take our consumer dollars elsewhere.

What can you do?

OEC, our partner Toxic Free Future, and a broad coalition are calling upon the major retailer REI to remove PFAS from its clothing. This is not the first time that OEC and its partners have called for consumer action to pressure retailers to remove hazardous chemicals from their products. A report from 2019 documented 43 retail chains that tested positive for toxic additives in their packaging. And such calls to action have been successful. Chains like Taco Bell, Walmart, and the Gap have committed to phasing out the use of PFAS in packaging and clothing. Thus, with new science comes new developments, and there are now more and more alternatives to PFAS for waterproofing.

Take Action at REI! Gather some volunteers and visit your local store (find it here) to:

  • Take individual or group selfies with signs (make your own or download ones you can print) and post your photos on social media.
  • Pass out fliers to customers and passersby and/or collect petition signatures
  • Deliver a letter to the store manager. It can say something like:

My name is ______ and I’m with ______.

There’s a certain type of chemical sometimes used for waterproofing. This class of chemicals, known as PFAS, never breaks down—so we’ve learned that over time they are contaminating our drinking water and our bodies. That’s bad because they’ve also been linked to serious health problems—including cancer. 

The good news is that there are other, safer ways to make good products like rain jackets without using PFAS, and a lot of retailers have already committed to selling them.  One company that hasn’t done that yet is REI, so we’re asking them to be a leader and make the change. 


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