Beyond shoes: How to kick PFCs out of our lives
In 2014, we embarked on a 7-year journey to eliminate toxic PFCs from our shoes. A group of man-made chemicals that includes PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances), they have been called “forever chemicals” because they never break down and stick around, bioaccumulating in wildlife and humans. And there is evidence that exposure to PFCs can lead to adverse health outcomes in humans.
Although they are everywhere — even in the most remote places on the planet — there are steps we can all take to reduce our exposure and make a positive impact. It will take all of us, working together, to win the battle with PFCs.
At KEEN, we’re sharing how we’ve eliminated these toxic chemicals from our supply chain through our Detox The Planet open source initiative. But what can we do at home and in our daily lives? Here's some help:
Reduce your exposure
Be aware of products you buy. Cookware, grease- and oil-resistant coatings on paper products, water-repellent fabrics, outdoor products, and stain-resistant coatings may contain PFAS.
Choose safer cleaners and household products by looking for the EPA “Safer Choice” label.
Check to see if your area has detected PFASs in your drinking water. If so, consider installing an in-home reverse osmosis filter under your sink (or charcoal tap filter).
Create a cleaner home. Use HEPA filters when vacuuming, dust and mop with a wet cloth, change your HVAC filters routinely, open up your windows for ventilation, and wash your hands before eating.
Influence your favorite retailers and brands
Vote with your dollars by supporting PFAS-free products.
Send an email or tag retailers in a social post in favor of PFAS-free products. Ask them to disclose the identities, structures, and properties of chemicals they manufacture or use in their products. Encourage them to develop nonpersistent, nontoxic, and nonfluorinated alternatives.
Make your voice heard
Reach out to local, state & national politicians and demand that they do more to move away from PFASs and find safe alternatives.
Ask the Biden Administration’s head of the EPA to develop stricter drinking water advisories for PFASs and help establish mitigation strategies in areas where exposures are above healthy limits. Learn more here.
Ask Congress to fund more research on short-chain and other “alternative” PFASs, with a focus on toxicity, where and how much they show up in the environment, in people, and in products.
Ask federal and state agencies to require labeling of PFAS-containing products and materials to enable consumers to make informed choices.
If there’s one thing we’ve learned as shoemakers, it’s that every choice makes an impact. The problem with PFCs is big, but every little thing we can do to eliminate them from our lives and planet is a positive step. Thanks for joining us in the journey!
Forever shoes, not forever chemicals!