Words by Jen Arnold
What are PFAS? And why are they harmful?
A less tongue-twisting acronym for Per- and Polyfluorinated Alkyl Substances, PFAS (also known as PFCs or perfluorinated compounds) are human-made chemicals used widely around the globe since as far back as the 1950s. Because of their superior water-resistance, they’re used as a finishing substance on all kinds of consumer products and common household items like food packaging, beauty products, non-stick cookware and as part of the fabric or coating on outerwear like ski jackets and rain shells.
Dubbed “forever chemicals” because they take so long to break down once released into the atmosphere, these toxic chemicals pollute our air, waterways, soil and even our bodies for extremely long periods of time.
While the direct impact on human, animal and environmental health is still being uncovered, the consensus is decidedly, and universally, not good. Emerging studies show PFAS pose harmful threats to immune function, hormone balance, and fertility, among other unwanted side effects.
The sustainable solution.
As a company that exists to deepen our connection to the outdoors, we feel a deep responsibility to care for the environment and our customers. This is why we're taking action to replace the need for these forever chemicals in our product line by adopting new technologies and working to source alternative, equally durable and water-repellent fabrics and coating substances for our product lines.
Starting in 2020, Stio introduced PFAS-free DWR and continues actively working to migrate our entire product line to be PFAS-free as part of our company-wide goal of eliminating PFAS from our collection by 2025.
Part of this effort has been transitioning from C-6 DWR (Durable Water Repellent), which contains PFAS, to C-0 DWR, a water-resistant finish that more easily breaks down within the environment by replacing fluorocarbons (PFAS) with less harmful materials, such as silicone.
So far, we’ve transitioned to this PFAS-free C-0 DWR treatment on our bestselling Environ, Hometown Down and Pinion Down programs, along with our new Figment freeride collection.
We’ve also partnered with GORE-TEX for the upcoming winter season to update our top-selling Doublecharge Insulated program with their new PFAS-free ePE membrane. Paired with a PFAS-free C-0 DWR external coating, we’re able to maintain best-in-class waterproofing, windproofing and breathability in a much more environmentally and human-friendly package.
A little extra care for our planet means a little more care for the products we use to explore it.
One of the challenges with this new, greener chemistry is that while C-0 DWR repels water just as effectively as C-6 DWR, it doesn’t stand up as well to oils and dirt, which over time can reduce the garment’s overall performance if not cared for correctly.
To maintain PFAS-free apparel’s longevity, we recommend following these washing and drying guidelines consistently. Should they become soiled by oil or dirt, using a product like Grangers Performance Wash will remove the dirt, grime and odors and fully restore its DWR finish, optimizing water repellency.
Throwing your outerwear in the dryer is another great way to reactivate its DWR performance.
Our commitment for good.
Transitioning away from PFAS is a lofty goal, but one we at Stio are fully committed to. Through our ongoing efforts to date, we’ve made great progress—more than half of the new product in our current line is being made without the use of PFAS. And we continue to research, test, develop and partner with manufacturing and materials companies equally committed to protecting the places where we play in order to find better, more eco-friendly solutions. All of this is part of our dedication to responsibly outfit you with apparel that is not only beautiful and functional, but safe—for you, your families, the environment and everyone who calls our planet home.