Advocacy groups, 48,000 petitioners demand Columbia Sportswear stop using toxic PFAS chemicals in clothing

Media Contacts
Emily Rogers

Former Zero Out Toxics, Advocate, U.S. PIRG Education Fund

Taran Volckhausen

Former Communications Associate, The Public Interest Network

PORTLAND, Ore. –  U.S. PIRG Education Fund and NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) hosted a media conference outside Columbia Sportswear’s flagship store in downtown Portland on Thursday to deliver a petition, with more than 48,000 signatures, urging the clothing manufacturer and retailer to phase out the use of PFAS chemicals in their products. Speakers at the event discussed how this harmful family of chemicals impacts human health and the environment, ways other brands have phased out PFAS from their supply chains and what consumers can do to protect themselves.

“PFAS do not belong anywhere near our bodies, let alone in the clothing and gear we wear and use everyday. While it’s great to see that Columbia Sportswear is working to remove these toxic ‘forever chemicals’ from its products, to truly protect their consumers and the environment, the company should publicly commit to phasing out their use by 2024. With this commitment Columbia would uphold its values to enjoy and protect nature and would help lead the industry away from harmful PFAS,” said Emily Rogers, Zero Out Toxics advocate for U.S. PIRG Education Fund.

The petition delivery comes after Columbia Sportswear’s June 1 shareholder meeting where CEO Timothy Boyle shared: “We’ve been focused on reducing our use of PFAS and, ultimately, phasing them out. I’d like to point out to investors that Columbia has developed a line of products, called OutDry Extreme, with no [PFAS] attached to the product in our manufacturing process. So, we’re really leading the industry in providing these highly productive, terrific products without the use of PFAS.” 

“PFAS are dangerous chemicals that have no place in the clothes we wear. Their use in jackets, shoes and other apparel has helped to create a massive pollution problem. These chemicals contaminate our drinking water sources, and our bodies. It’s time to turn off the tap of PFAS pollution, and we need Columbia Sportswear to do their part in protecting public health,” said Sujatha Bergen, director of Health Campaigns at NRDC.

While Boyle’s comments at the shareholder meeting were a step in the right direction, Oregon-based Columbia Sportswear has not set a public timeline to eliminate PFAS from its supply chain. Further, the company has not adopted a comprehensive PFAS definition to apply to their sustainability standards. 

“We know that Oregonians care about the health and safety of their communities, families and environment. Columbia Sportswear phasing out PFAS from its products represents the company living up to their sustainability and health values and the expectations that people in Oregon have for a local company,” said Charlie Fisher, state director of OSPIRG Foundation.

Event Images: Here

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