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Advocates from across the country call on REI to end the toxic trail of PFAS pollution

Though summer is now winding down, the heat is rising on REI for continuing to sell products with toxic PFAS—“forever chemicals” linked to harmful health impacts and that have contaminated the drinking water of millions of U.S. residents and people around the world. 

The burning question is: when will REI finally tell PFAS to take a hike?

REI leadership failed to commit to banning PFAS in its products and packaging during its May annual member meeting, despite the massive calls for change from more than 110,000 REI customers and members and 100+ local, statewide, and national environmental organizations representing millions of people. 

This is why advocates from across the country are taking to the streets, braving the hot weather while visiting REI stores around the country calling for meaningful action on the PFAS contamination crisis. 

In Minnesota, clean water advocates delivered 1,000 postcards to an REI store manager

Minnesota advocates outside of REI

One month after REI’s annual member meeting, Clean Water Action and the Healthy Legacy Coalition delivered more than 1,000 postcards signed by REI customers and members to the store manager in Bloomington, MN.

In North Carolina, letters were delivered to every single store in the state

North Carolina Conservation Network organizer outside of REI store in Asheville, NC

Organizers with the North Carolina Conservation Network went on the road and visited all seven REI stores in North Carolina, meeting with and delivering letters to store managers.

North Carolina is uniquely impacted by PFAS. Five years ago, North Carolinians in the Cape Fear region woke up to the news that their drinking water had been polluted with chemicals for decades. Co-founder of Clean Cape Fear, Emily Donovan, further explains this in our video on Toxic Convenience, our study that found toxic PFAS in textiles like raincoats, mattress pads, tablecloths, and napkins. In the five years since, North Carolinians have learned just how common the chemicals are and how damaging they are to our health. Forever chemicals have shown up in drinking water throughout the state, including in very high levels in Pittsboro and Maysville. 

Thousands of North Carolinians have already exceeded safe lifetime exposures to PFAS due to drinking water contamination from chemical manufacturers in the state — they cannot afford to be exposed to PFAS in their clothing and other products as well.

In Maine, advocates picketed outside of one of REI’s newest stores

Advocates picketing outside of REI store in Westbrook, Maine

Also this summer, leaders of Defend Our Health, the Learning Disabilities Association of Maine, and Clean Water Action held an informational picket outside of one of REI’s newest stores in Westbrook, Maine. They held signs, delivered a joint letter to the store manager, and were even interviewed on two local TV news stations (see the video above).

Will REI lead the outdoor apparel industry away from PFAS?

It’s anyone’s guess where REI members and advocates may show up next.

But until the company acts, you can be sure that advocates and members won’t be going away. 

Toxic-Free Future and our partners will continue to demand REI live up to its values as a co-op and company dedicated to sustainability and be a leader to get PFAS out of the products it sells.

We look forward to the day when we can publicly congratulate REI for leading the outdoor industry away from forever chemicals. 

In the meantime, please join us by signing our petition telling REI to ban these dangerous chemicals from its products.