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Greg’s new coat – how I found PFAS-free outdoor apparel

It was December 14, and my husband Greg told me he wanted a new raincoat for Christmas. He was tired of getting wet during his winter fly-fishing excursions, and he had his perfect raincoat all picked out.

Or so he thought. Unfortunately, the coat he wanted still uses yesterday’s toxic technology—a layer of PFAS on the surface to repel water. And knowing what I know about the dangers of PFAS, I wasn’t about to buy another PFAS-laden garment. But thanks to the thousands of people who convinced REI to stop selling PFAS-treated apparel and got California and Washington to ban PFAS in clothing, we finally have other options!

The previous year, I gave up in frustration when my daughter needed a new coat. This time, I found the perfect coat with about an hour’s work. Here’s how I did it.

First, I was inspired by the Washington State Department of Ecology’s finding that safer alternatives to PFAS are available for raingear, citing a couple of options including a whole line from Helly Hansen

But since those great-looking coats were out of my price range, my second step was a quick search for “PFAS free raingear.” I found this excellent article, with a handy table of brands, relative cost, and what they actually use for waterproofing instead of PFAS. I was excited to see that Páramo offered coats using Nikwax, a water repellency treatment already found to be safer by the Department of Ecology.

My mom and I pooled our money to buy Páramo’s $395 Cascada rain jacket, which is a fairly heavy-duty coat that will keep him comfortable when he’s fishing in the river or walking our daughter to the bus during a squall. While this is a lot more than I would ordinarily spend on a jacket, I expect this particular garment to last a very long time, and we know that we can reapply Nikwax to maintain the water repellency. I do expect that we will soon see lower-cost options on the market, as REI and Dick’s Sporting Goods make good on their promises to end sales of PFAS-treated clothes this year. We know from experience that once the market shifts, safer technologies become affordable for many more people.

I’m so grateful for all the people who worked to pass policies and convince companies to get PFAS out of apparel, as well as for the companies that have now successfully developed safer alternatives.

It’s great to finally have options, and Greg loves his new coat!