Remember in September when we asked major outdoor brands if they use PFCs to make their products?
Most brands had to admit that they do use PFCs. But they didn’t tell us which products they were in. So we asked you which products you wanted tested. We got more than 30,000 votes on the Detox Outdoor website from outdoor lovers around the world, and sent the 40 most voted for to an independent lab for testing.
The results are in. PFCs were found in all but four of the products we tested.
In 18 items we found high concentrations of the more hazardous long-chain PFCs, even though most of the brands tested claim publicly that they are no longer using them. We also found PFOA – a long-chain PFC that is linked to a number of health effects, including cancer – in some products by The North Face and Mammut.
These brands are not walking their talk of love and appreciation for the environment when it comes to the chemicals they use in their production chains.
Together with the outdoor community, we are challenging brands to show us what respecting nature really means: stop using toxic chemicals and Detox your gear!
What concerns me a lot about these substances is that they degrade very slowly in the environment and enter the food chain, making the pollution almost irreversible. We have found them in very remote areas of the planet, and they have already been detected in animals like dolphins, in polar bears’ livers and even in human blood.
When I am not working on the Detox Outdoor project, I spend my time in a little cottage in the middle of the Swiss mountains. The unspoilt scenery that I am lucky enough to see from my window is a constant reminder of how important it is to protect the natural world, the very thing that’s at the core of the outdoor brands’ marketing.
Unfortunately, I also know that PFC contamination has probably already reached this pristine looking landscape.
I am and I always have been an outdoor lover and I am convinced that the outdoor community really has the power and the leverage to make a change for good in the industry. Together we can tell the CEOs of Mammut and The North Face to walk their outdoor talk and stop using toxic chemicals.
Today UK brand Páramo Directional Clothing announced its commitment to Detox. Páramo is the first brand in the outdoor sector which has already eliminated PFC from its entire production chain, showing that high-performance PFC-free gear is possible, and setting the highest standard within the sector.
The UK brand joins 34 international fashion and sports brands already committed to Detox.
Mirjam Kopp is the Detox Outdoor Global Project Lead for Greenpeace Switzerland.