REI recently made headlines for unionizing its employees at its flagship SoHo store in New York City, which is part of a nationwide trend of unionizing retail and warehouse workers. However, this is not the only pressing issue facing REI.
In recent weeks, scores of REI members have spoken on the cooperative’s message board, demanding the company answer questions about whether it will include toxic PFAS “forever chemicals” in products sold at its upcoming member meeting. will be phased out and banned. Weeks ago, REI invited its members to submit questions for leadership to address at the meeting, and as a result, REI members flooded the message board demanding action on PFAS – 90% of the total comments. more than! This follows emails and petitions to the company that were signed by more than 110,000 REI members and customers and a 100+. letter from Organizations representing millions of people.
The message is loud and clear. REI, we look forward to listening to our members and customers and leading the outdoor apparel industry away from PFAS. These chemicals are contaminating the drinking water of millions of people in the United States, and the traces of the pollution it creates—from production to use in products, to disposal—is devastating. Even what should be the purest food on earth—breast milk—is contaminated. We look forward to hearing how the company takes responsibility for PFAS in the products it sells at its annual member meeting next week, May 16.
Here are some of the most engaging messages posted on the company’s website by REI members:
Cancer victim demands action on PFAS
“As a longtime coop member and cancer survivor, I am asking you to rapidly uphold your commitment to ban chemicals such as PFAS. We cannot afford to continue using these types of products, they are killing us and making us (and all other beautiful creatures on this planet) sick. If we as a cooperative really stand to promote environmental protection, we want you to take this issue seriously and act quickly and decisively on behalf of all of us to stop these polluting practices. Do it. ,
Mom and Grandma want REI to protect the natural environment
“I’m a REI member because I enjoy the outdoors. As a mom and grandma. I worry about chemicals that harm people’s health. It’s sad that even in nature, we don’t care about our health.” Can’t easily get away from the toxic pollutants that harm the U.S. It’s time to get chemicals. When will REI take action on PFAS chemicals?
Longtime member relies heavily on rain gear in the Pacific Northwest
“As a longtime REI member, I am concerned by the company’s continued reliance on hazardous PFAS that not only pose a threat to human health, but persist in the environment. I am not just a concerned member, I also live in Pacific NW, where I rely heavily on rain gear to keep me dry and comfortable, yet these are products that are often made with PFAS. The good news is that some companies have made rain gear. I’ve found safer alternatives to make that are just as effective in my climate. Until REI stops using PFAS, I’ll have to go elsewhere for my outdoor gear.
PFAS pollutes drinking water in California
“Our family has had a REI membership since the mid-1980s. Although purchasing products at REI was sometimes more expensive than at other sources, we preferred the coop because it is a coop and thought the coop’s values align more with good environmental stewardship. Now I’ve learned about the problem of toxic copy and polyfluor chemicals called PFAS in REI products. In California, I read that water systems serving more than 19 million people have been tested and found to be contaminated with PFAS. Of course not all PFAS come from products sold by REI, but as a member nonetheless, I want and hope that REI will be a leader in the phase-out of these products that harm our beautiful environment and our health. !
PFAS pollute drinking water in Massachusetts
“I have been a member of REI for over 2 decades and have purchased many shoes, rain jackets, backpacks and other outdoor gear from REI. Recently I learned that it probably contains PFAS chemicals that do not break down in the environment or in my body, causing cancer and other diseases, and contaminated drinking water in my home state of Massachusetts and across the country. The devastating impact on the communities that have been hardest hit. Please resolve and plan to get PFAS from your store!”
PFAS Affects Cows and Deer in Maine
“In Maine, we have found PFAS in our water, in our soil, in cow’s milk and even in our deer (resulting in the Fairfield area advising deer not to eat). Please all families Act now on PFAS to protect farmers, wildlife and environment. Thank you.”
PFAS Contaminates Fish in Michigan
“I have been a member of REI for many years. I also live in Ann Arbor, Michigan where there is an REI store, and where PFAS has contaminated the river that runs through the city. The state issued a no fish advisory So we can’t even eat local fish. I know REI is not directly responsible for my river’s contamination with PFAS, but it would be amazing if REI would take a stand and do something about PFAS. Show support for what contaminates rivers across the country. Like not using PFAS to sell clothes and shoes. This is understandable because REI customers care so much about the environment, and REI is active in my community. Please consider banning PFAS in all your products!”
PFAS pollutes drinking water in North Carolina
“Why hasn’t REI yet made a commitment to ban chemicals (AKA PFAS) in the products you sell forever? I’ve been a member of REI for years, but as a North Carolinian I’m disappointed that REI The U.S. has not done much on this issue. About 5 years ago, we learned that many North Carolinians had been exposed to PFAS through their drinking water. Since then we have learned a lot about how common the chemicals are and How harmful are they to our health. NC families can’t take another drop of PFAS – not in our water, not in our outdoor gear.”
If Patagonia can make a commitment to ban PFAS, why can’t REI?
“I’ve been shopping at REI since I was a teenager… I always thought REI was ahead of other companies because we’re a cooperative and our members care about the environment. I worry when I’m on Mount Everest But I read about PFAS in our bodies. How have other brands like Patagonia been able to make a commitment to stop using PFAS and our cooperative hasn’t? It makes me wonder why I keep buying at REI Please commit now to stop the use of these toxic chemicals forever.”
REI should use its power to wean away suppliers from PFAS
“Part of the reason I became an REI member is because of REI’s commitment to sustainability. I would like to know why REI is one of the largest retailers in the industry to dissuade producers from using PFAS chemicals in their products. How you plan to use your power as one of the
REI members care about company values
“I am agree” [PFAS] A very high priority item for me as an REI member… As a member-owned coop we are powerful. We don’t need to shop at REI – we choose. Not only on the basis of price, but also based on value. If REI remains silent or non-committal about PFAS ingredients in the products it sells, what about REI’s values (which, in the end, are our values too)… I look forward to seeing your response.
REI must act to protect future generations
“I agree with this – when will REI phase out all PFAS products, not just a select few. Be a leader in the industry, reflect your – our – values. Listen to your members. For over a decade now As a member, it’s important to me, to a lot of other members it’s obviously important based on the comments on this page and it’s important to the general public. For us to be able to really enjoy the outdoors In order to have and have the ability to pass that love on to future generations, we need to do everything in our power to make sure the outside is still clean and healthy. This is one step in making it happen. Phase out all PFAS products.”