Friday, 5 February 2016

Detox Outdoor

Greenpeace have always been good at pricking the bubble of PR that many clothing companies inflate around themselves. Their claims to be greener-than-the-other-guy are easily popped as new data comes out around a new environmental abuse.

Over the past few years, the activist group has been concentrating their attention on the toxins left in our clothes after the manufacturing process–nasties that washing just won't remove. Of particular concern are PFCs or poly-flourinated chemicals. These are a cocktail of compounds with a number of side-effects–they're potentially carcinogenic, for example. Not found in nature, these complex materials have nevertheless found their way to the remotest parts of the globe. How did they get there? Pretty simple: we brought them with us in our clothes.

All of which has led to the latest strand of Greenpeace's Detox Project, Detox Outdoor. The group examined clothing from forty well-known outdoor brands including several, like Patagonia and The North Face, that have a reputation for sustainability and eco-friendliness.

The results were shocking. Of the sample group, only four were found to be free of PFCs, and eighteen contained long-chain variants of the compounds, which are especially hazardous. The chemicals, used in waterproofing, were found in everything from jackets to sleeping bags.

Most of the brands tested claim publicly that they no longer use long-chain PFCs in their manufacturing process. Greenpeace beg to differ. Mirjam Kopp, project leader for Detox Outdoor said:

“We found high levels of PFOA, a long-chain PFC that is linked to a number of health effects, including cancer, in some products from The North Face and Mammut. This substance is already restricted in Norway. These are disappointing results for outdoor lovers who want their clothes to be as sustainable and clean as the places they explore“.

As a result of the publicity, which was accompanied by four days of global protest outside North Face stores, the brand has pledged to stop using PFCs by 2020. Meanwhile, UK brand Paramo Directional Clothing has signed up to the full Detox pledge. As the first outdoor clothing line never to use PFCs, they've already come a long way, but have committed to banning all toxic chemicals from their production process and supply chain.

The. Focus now turns to Mammut, who have stated that they are committing to reduction in the use of PFCs, but at a much slower rate. Greenpeace thinks they can and should do better. Here at The Pier, we tend to agree.

For more info, check out, Greenpeace's dedicated campaign site. While you're there, why not drop Mammut a line?


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