Read the full media release by Safer Chemicals Healthy Families
“SEATTLE, WA—Yesterday, during its annual member meeting, REI leadership failed to commit to phasing out toxic PFAS ‘forever chemicals’ from the products it makes and sells. The company addressed the PFAS problem during the meeting following nationwide public pressure led by Toxic-Free Future’s Mind the Store program, including on its own message board. However, REI’s response did not provide new commitments nor a date or timeline towards phasing out these toxic ‘forever chemicals.’ REI’s response, made by Ben Steele, Chief Customer Officer, repeated the company’s prior chemical management efforts–which do not ban all PFAS. A transcript of REI’s response at the annual member meeting on May 16, 2022, can be found below.
Since last year, Toxic-Free Future’s Mind the Store program has led a national campaign urging REI and other retailers to ban PFAS in outdoor apparel and other textiles.
In response to REI’s invitation to submit questions for its annual meeting, REI members spoke out on the co-op’s message board demanding action on PFAS–totaling more than 90% of all comments. This public outcry comes after multiple emails and petitions were made to the company and signed by more than 110,000 REI members and customers as well as a letter from 100+ organizations representing millions of people.
In response to yesterday’s meeting, the following statements were made:
‘The meeting was a big disappointment,’ said Mike Schade, director of Mind the Store, a program of Toxic-Free Future. ‘The company shared no new commitments to address the PFAS pollution crisis impacting millions of Americans. REI failed to meaningfully respond to the tens of thousands of members demanding action on PFAS. The company must lead the outdoor apparel industry away from these unnecessary forever chemicals.’
‘REI’s failure to commit to phasing out PFAS at its annual meeting was shocking given its commitment to sustainability and climate solutions,’ said Laurie Valeriano, Executive Director of Toxic-Free Future. ‘The failure of REI to state when it will end the use of PFAS in all products is not acceptable, especially when these chemicals contaminate drinking water and breast milk, pollute low-income communities and communities of color, and contribute to the climate crisis.'”…
This is an unfair singling out of REI, and I don’t understand what’s going on in the PFAS world that they only can demonize REI among hundreds of retailers doing the same thing.
Can we be more realistic, please? I wrote a piece on why PFAS isn’t going anywhere from high-performance clothing, and it’s not just REI. It’s also Patagonia and the like, where statements to remove them by an arbitrary deadline are repeatedly not met. It’s not that they don’t want an alternative. It’s that an alternative doesn’t exist (yet).
Please stop this misinformation. It’s detracting from the real discussion that needs to take place.