Design & Sustainability on

PFC-FREE: A Better DWR For A Cleaner, Healthier Environment

— By: The Team at Nau

At Nau we design clothing to function in your everyday environment, not in rare extremes. So, when we learned about the potential negative impact of PFCs on people and the environment, our path was clear: find an effective PFC-free DWR solution as soon as possible. Beginning with our Spring ’17 Collection, we’re happy to say that vision is a reality. With our latest collection we’ve removed PFCs from our DWR treatments and transitioned to safer alternatives that are better for you, for our environment and for future generations to come.

So,what are PFCs? How do they impact our environment? What are the alternatives? This FAQ explains everything you need to know about our new PFC-Free DWR.

 

What is DWR?

Durable Water Repellent (DWR) is a textile treatment applied to fabric used for clothing, like a jacket. The treatment prevents water from saturating the fabric by causing water to bead & roll off the surface. It keeps your jacket drier, which ultimately keeps you drier.

 

 

What are PFCs?

You can find Perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) in a wide variety of commercial applications. PFCs are used in carpeting, cookware, food packaging, clothing treatments (including traditional DWR) and more. In clothing specifically, PFCs increase the surface tension of the fabric, which helps water bead up and roll off.

 

 

Why remove PFCs?

PFCs are a non-natural substance, meaning they don’t break down (are persistent) in the environment. That persistence leads to a build-up (bioaccumulation) of PFCs in the food web. Scientists have found traces of PFCs in air, water, remote ice caps, plants, wildlife and even in human beings.

Early studies have already shown they are harmful to living organisms, but there is still a lot to learn. Further research is being done on how PFCs get into the environment, however, top theories include manufacturing, washing & waste.

 

Is wearing clothing with PFCs harmful to my health?

No. Thus far, all the research we’ve seen indicates that wearing clothing with PFCs does not have an impact on the health of the wearer. So you don’t need to immediately stop wearing the jacket you’ve had for the last few years.

The primary problems with PFCs occur at the point of manufacture and at end of life disposal (if your jacket goes to the landfill). At those two points in the clothing lifecycle the compounds can get into the environment.

It’s important to reduce or eliminate PFCs from the manufacturing process, which is what we’ve done.

It’s also important to be thoughtful about maintaining your clothing so it has a longer life and is less likely to end up in a landfill. Read below for tips on taking care of your clothing with DWR treatment.

 

What is your PFC-free alternative?

Nau uses a variety of PFC-free DWR alternatives. We use  biobased and hydrocarbon polymer-based chemistries in order to achieve the best water repellency performance with the lowest impact. All of our PFC-free chemistries are screened by accredited third party organizations such as Bluesign, ZDHC, Oeko-tex Standard 100, and globally-recognized Restricted Substances Lists to ensure safety for mill and factory workers, for Nau customers, and for the environment.

Through industry standard performance testing we’ve found that water repellency for our PFC-free DWR is comparable to traditional iterations.

 

 

How do you care for products with PFC-free DWR?

Taking care is always important. That’s especially true for clothing with PFC-free DWR. While PFC-free alternatives have a greatly reduced impact on health and the environment, the treatment’s lifespan is shorter as well. However, if you take care of your jacket, we’re certain it will keep taking care of you.

To maintain the performance of your PFC-free DWR treated clothing you should always follow the directions on the care label. You should plan to reapply a PFC-free DWR product regularly to maintain water repellency. Textile treatments like PFC-free DWR break down over time from dirt, sweat, oil that naturally occurs through wear.

At Nau, we like to use Nikwax (they’re PFC-free), which can be found at many outdoor stores & on the Nikwax website. We prefer their detergents too, but most non-toxic laundry detergents do just fine.

Remember, the better you maintain your clothing, the longer it will last. Giving your clothing a longer life helps lessen your environmental impact in a big way. Also, keep these easy care tips in mind:

  • If your garment with DWR gets dirty, use spot treatment over full-garment washing when possible.
  • When washing a garment with DWR (usually once a season), choose cold water over hot.
  • Lastly, use a dryer on the tumble dry low setting for garments with DWR to improve water repellency.

 

At Nau, better isn’t a goal for us, it’s our design philosophy. That means there’s always an opportunity to make better, together. If you have feedback, further questions or would like more detailed information, let us know. Send us an email, tweet, or Facebook message and we’ll do our best to get you an answer quickly.

And make sure to check out the new Spring ’17 Collection of jackets, featuring pfc-free DWR, on nau.com.