Victory: REI is phasing out toxic PFAS from its products

Other outdoor retailers should follow REI’s lead and take action to eliminate these harmful chemicals.

Kong Lor | Used by permission
Katie Craig and Rep. Pricey Harrison release PFAS in outdoor gear scorecard at REI in Cary, NC.
Matt Casale

Former Director, Environment Campaigns, PIRG

Major outdoor retailer REI has committed to phasing out toxic PFAS chemicals from its gear by 2026. This action makes REI a leader in the outdoor industry and will help eliminate the health-threatening chemicals.

PIRG is making progress to tackle per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, and protect our health from these toxic “forever chemicals,” and we couldn’t have done it without your support.

How we helped spur REI to take action on toxic PFAS

In the fall, PIRG helped deliver 130,000 signatures from citizen advocates like you to REI, urging the company to commit to action on toxic PFAS “forever chemicals.” And after hearing from the public and its customers, REI is ready to make its products better for our health and our environment.

By 2024, REI will require its suppliers to eliminate all PFAS from the pots, pans, shoes, bags, packs and similar gear sold by the retail chain. Suppliers of heavy-duty apparel like raincoats will have until 2026 to make those products PFAS-free.

PFAS are man-made and made to last — meaning that when they inevitably seep out into the environment, they stay there, accumulating both in volume and in the level of danger they pose to our health.

Scientists estimate that 98% of Americans have PFAS in their blood. PFAS exposure has been linked to serious health effects including liver damage, developmental issues, immune suppression and cancer.

PFAS chemicals have no place in our clothing

That’s why PIRG has called on outdoor retailers, including REI, to eliminate PFAS from their products. The “Going Out of Fashion” report by our research partners at U.S. PIRG Education Fund graded clothing companies for their commitments (or lack thereof) to reduce PFAS chemicals, and found that the majority of apparel companies have weak commitments.

Outdoor clothing and gear brands in particular are branding themselves as eco-conscious, yet many have taken little or no action on getting PFAS out of their products. Because PFAS sticks around forever in our environment and our bodies, other companies that have yet to take action should follow REI’s lead.

In addition to calling on outdoor retailers to lead the industry to become PFAS-free, we’re calling on state officials and federal leaders to ban toxic PFAS. Our network has already won policies in California, Maryland and Colorado limiting PFAS.

With this latest win for our health, we’ll keep up the momentum to push for change and eliminate more toxic threats.

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Matt Casale

Former Director, Environment Campaigns, PIRG

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