Columbia Sportswear says its new OutDry Extreme ECO Jacket, which hit shelves last week, marks a milestone in sustainability — as the first high-performance, environmentally friendly, breathable, waterproof jacket made without the use of a common synthetic additive known as perfluorinated compounds (PFCs).
As part of the launch, Columbia has partnered with hip-hop artist and environmental advocate Macklemore to help raise awareness on the impact that PFCs can have on the environment. Macklemore (aka Ben Haggerty), who finds inspiration and solace in the forests in the Pacific Northwest and other natural places around the world, shares his thoughts on environmentally responsible rainwear in a new video:
PFCs have a long history in the outerwear industry. They retain an incredibly strong molecular bond, which makes them great at repelling water, but presents a potentially serious environmental issue - the compounds persist in natural environments, having been found to be bio-accumulative in animals and humans. With this new jacket, Columbia set its sights on delivering a new approach to rainwear that does not rely on the use of PFCs but still stands up to the toughest, wettest conditions in the outdoors.
Columbia touts the OutDry Extreme ECO Jacket — which ships to stores in a renewable, recyclable, clear poly bag made from sugar cane, developed especially for the ECO Jacket in partnership with Avery Dennison - as the ultimate sustainable, waterproof, breathable solution for extreme conditions. The shell builds upon Columbia’s OutDry Extreme platform and elevates it further with a waterproof membrane made without PFCs*, and features a 100 percent recycled, dye-free fabric made from recycled bottles, making it one of the ‘greenest’ ways for outdoor enthusiasts to waterproof.
“We set out to make the greenest, highest-performance jacket in the world,” said Woody Blackford, Columbia’s VP of Innovation and Design. “Manufacturing the jacket without relying on PFCs was a critical step; but we went even further by building it from recycled bottles, using recycled trims, and keeping more than 13 gallons of wastewater out of the process by going dye-free.”
As the company further explained in a blog post previewing the new jacket: “We could have stopped with the removal of PFCs, but we decided to treat the first release of OutDry Extreme ECO as an experiment in building our most environmentally friendly, high-performance jacket. So we asked ourselves: ‘What would further reduce this jacket’s environmental impact?’ We took a holistic, lifecycle approach to evaluating sustainability and are using the Higg Index framework as a guide to measure, manage and improve the social, environmental, ethical and chemical impacts of the product.”
*Columbia Sportswear notes that no PFCs are intentionally used in the manufacturing process, but the jacket may contain trace amounts.