The hardest part of any journey is getting started, taking that first step. It’s so much easier when you have your friends with you.
The same is true of the Detox outdoor campaign. It started when we found that some brands making our outdoor gear are also contributing to the contamination of our planet. Samples we collected from fishes and rivers to pristine mountaintops, all contained manmade PFCs. We knew as soon as the lab reports came back positive that we need to stop companies using these hazardous chemicals.
Collecting water samples, Kaçkar Mountains, Turkey
But would the brands listen to us? We were just a handful of concerned, passionate nature lovers lacking in numbers. So we searched for other nature lovers who want to keep the world free of hazardous chemicals and ensure that the gear they buy doesn’t pollute their most cherished environments.
And we found you. We found you on wooded trails, dangling from cliff faces, standing on mountain tops, swimming in clear blue lakes, and packing up your tents after a night under the stars.
Detox expedition to Altai Mountains in Russia
We’ve tapped into a thriving, supportive community and it’s awe-inspiring to see outdoor lovers around the world joining us. We invited you to create the campaign with us, and before long you were telling us which products you want us to test in the lab, coming up with creative ideas for activities and organising adventurous PFC-free expeditions. Thousands of you participated in actions demanding your favourite brands to go PFC-free and Detox.
Detox action in Stockholm, Sweden
Such a promising start has had its effects. You delivered early on, encouraging the UK-based brand Paramo, to make a bold move and be the first outdoor brand to Detox! This was an early victory and you kept the pressure on. We can now announce that, in just under a year of campaigning, your voice has been heard by two more brands, Vaude and Rotauf. Both have committed to clean up their production chains. Rotauf is already PFC-free and Vaude pledges to eliminate all PFCs from their products by 2018.
The momentum is building but there is more work to be done. In the past months, we tested the air in stores around the world run by the largest outdoor brands. The results will take your breath away!
Detox Action at The North Face Store in Milan, Italy
We also found out that many brands need your encouragement to completely drop PFCs from their gear. There are alternatives that keep outdoor lovers dry and warm and these brands need to know that you want them to switch now.
PFC-free Expedition in China
There are also brands that need you to get LOUD. They have not yet announced any timelines to eliminate PFCs, even though more than 200 scientists from around the world discourage their use in consumer goods due to their hazardous properties.
Some PFCs have been associated with adverse health effects in humans, including kidney and testicular cancers, while others may block the positive effects of children’s vaccinations. So we need you to step up again. Let these brands know that you’re not going away… and that you’re bringing your friends!
There are more victories ahead. Can we count on you to speak up again?
Mirjam Kopp is the Detox Outdoor Project Leader
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