Read the full article by Sujatha Bergen (Natural Resources Defense Council)

“Today, NRDC and U.S. PIRG Education Fund launched a campaign urging Columbia Sportswear to eliminate toxic PFAS chemicals from their products and supply chain by 2024. The campaign will engage everyday consumers through a petition drive and mobilize the public impacted by PFAS contamination.

PFAS use in the outdoor industry

PFAS, also known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a class of an estimated 12,000 human-made chemicals linked to cancer, damage to the immune system, and a host of other health problems. They are often applied to outdoor apparel and gear to make them more water and stain resistant. This convenience, however, comes at a cost. Through the use of PFAS treated clothing  and accidental ingestion, PFAS-contaminated apparel can directly expose us to these harmful chemicals. Moreover, PFAS found in clothing can leach into our environment, contaminating our land, air, and drinking water.

A recent scorecard released by NRDC, U.S. PIRG Education Fund and Fashion FWD graded major apparel brands on efforts to eliminate PFAS use in their supply chains. Columbia Sportswear earned an ‘F’ for its failure to commit to phasing out all PFAS use from its supply chain.  

As one of the largest outdoor apparel brands in the U.S. and with its focus on supplying products to consumers who enjoy spending time outdoors, Columbia Sportswear should be leading the effort to eliminate PFAS use in apparel, not lagging behind. 

Columbia Sportswear would benefit from eliminating PFAS

Not only does using PFAS create risks for people and the planet, but it could also undermine company sales. Industry experts believe that Columbia Sportswear would like to expand its customer base to younger middle- and upper-middle-class customers. Numerous studies and polls indicate that Generation Z is much more focused on sustainability than previous generations. Given the rising public profile of PFAS contamination due to films, such as Dark Waters, regulatory action, news stories, and the emergence of outdoor apparel companies that have already committed to eliminating PFAS from their supply chains, outdoor apparel companies that fail to ban all PFAS risk a diminished ‘green’ reputation.”…