Read the full press release by Toxic Free Futures
“SEATTLE, WA—Today, NRDC, Fashion FWD, and U.S. PIRG Education Fund released a scorecard ranking PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) policy commitments from 30 popular retail and apparel brands, giving REI a failing ‘F’ grade for its incomplete commitment that excluded many PFAS (also known as ‘forever chemicals’). Conversely, competitor Patagonia earned a ‘B’—the highest grade of all the outdoor apparel brands surveyed—and is the only outdoor brand with a commitment to phase out all PFAS in all products by 2024.
Today’s scorecard follows Toxic-Free Future’s original testing, which made national headlines in January 2022, finding PFAS in most stain- and water-resistant products—including items purchased at REI and other retailers. The announcement also follows a peer-reviewed study led by scientists at Toxic-Free Future, the University of Washington, and Indiana University that found PFAS in 100% of breast milk samples tested and that newer PFAS build up in people. Toxic-Free Future’s September 2021 investigative report revealed that a U.S. PFAS manufacturing facility is a major source of both PFAS pollution and ozone-depleting chemicals that contribute to health problems and climate change.
Toxic-Free Future (TFF) and its Mind the Store program have been urging REI and other retailers to ban PFAS in outdoor apparel and other textiles since September 2021 in a national campaign. To date, more than 110,000 REI customers have signed petitions and sent e-mails to the REI CEO and Board calling for action on PFAS. Also, in December, a group of more than 100 local, state, and national organizations sent a letter to REI calling on the company to lead the outdoor apparel industry away from the entire class of PFAS.
‘As one of the largest retailers in the outdoor industry and a company renowned for its commitment to sustainability, REI has a responsibility to lead a bold phase-out of all PFAS in the products it sells,’ said Mike Schade, director of Mind the Store, a program of Toxic-Free Future. ‘This new report clearly shows it’s possible since competitors, like Patagonia, are doing much more to phase out toxic PFAS. The high number of petition signatures we’ve collected urging REI to act speaks volumes—customers are demanding that they do better. With the company’s annual member meeting fast approaching, now is the time for REI to demonstrate leadership on these ‘forever chemicals.’'”…