Columbia has found an unlikely ally in its quest to stem the use of perfluorinated compounds in outerwear: hip-hop artist Macklemore. The Portland, Ore.–based sportswear company, which debuted its PFC-free OutDry Extreme Eco Shell jacket on Thursday, tapped the artist known as Ben Haggerty to provide a rundown of the class of chemicals, which are typically used to waterproof clothing, gear, and footwear. “For decades, rain jackets were made with perfluorinated compounds, a.k.a. the “devil of the forest,” Macklemore says in a video. “All these PFCs are great for keeping the water beating off your jacket. … But scientists are finding them all over the forest, man.”
PFCs are notoriously bioaccumulative in animals and humans, meaning they resist being catabolized or excreted and, instead, persist in various tissues.
Columbia claims that the OutDry Extreme Eco Shell is the first eco-friendly high-performance rain jacket to eliminate the intentional use of perfluorinated compounds and offer the “ultimate sustainable breathable solution for extreme conditions.”
“We set out to make the greenest, highest performance jacket in the world,” said Woody Blackford, Columbia’s vice president of innovation and design, said in a statement. “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.”
It’s no small accomplishment, Macklemore notes in the video.
“I made this floatie out of 21 plastic bottles,” he says, gesturing to a duct-taped bundle bobbing in the water. “Columbia … made this jacket.”