*UPDATE* No More Gore-tex!!

By PSU EcoMerge Capstone - 4:30 AM

Eco-friendly Alternatives to Gore-Tex Brand Waterproof Products

            Looking for some eco-friendly alternatives to Gore-Tex brand waterproof apparel?? Then this post is for you! The following Greenpeace-approved brands are recommended as replacements for products with fluorine membranes that are based on PTFE (Gore-Tex). These alternative brands include garments made from polyester, polyurethane, paraffin, and dendrimers. If you are unfamiliar with Gore-Tex and the controversy surrounding products manufactured with Gore-Tex technology, then please spend a couple of minutes reading a little bit about the controversy here in a previous blog entry. The next time you are thinking of buying Gore-Tex brand waterproof clothing, please think twice and go with one of these eco-friendly alternatives instead!!

Gore-Tex under a microscope

Bionic-Finish Eco (www.rudolf.de) – Bionic-Finish Eco products have an extremely high abrasion resistance, even after 10,000 abrasion cycles! Bionic-Finish Eco by the Rudolf Company makes use of star-shaped branched polymers known as dendrimers, which allow the only complete fiber protection system worldwide for industrial textile and household garments. Their products have oil, water, and soil repellent finishes that perform much better than the conventional fluorine compound-containing finishes.

Bionic-Finish Eco under a microscope

Ecorepel (www.schoeller-textiles.com) – Ecorepel products are environmentally friendly paraffin alternatives to fluorocarbon finishes. Their products consist of PFC-free and water repelling high-tech finishes that are 80-100% biodegradable. Ecorepel was just launched a little over two years ago in January 2012, but its effectiveness has already been proven on many products such as denim, soft-shell and fleece.

Ecorepel under a microscope

Purtex (www.purtex.net) – Purtex is an eco-friendly, 100% solvent-free polyurethane treatment for textile finishes and coatings that is safe for both humans and the environment. Purtex products are completely biodegradable and free from fluorocarbons and metals like antimony. Purtex is one of 20 brands to have adopted Greenpeace’s “detox” standards as an alternative to toxic textiles and clothing.

Purtex under a microscope

SympaTex (www.sympatex.com) – SympaTex products include an assortment of garments with fluorine-free membranes that are both waterproof and “breathable”. SympaTex products mostly consist of polyester with some polyurethane blends that are extremely durable and completely recyclable. A plus side with polyester is that it does not require the use of farmland or insecticides, unlike conventional cotton production methods.

SympaTex under a microscope

Keep an eye out for a future blog post that will include a discussion of some eco-friendly apparel companies that carry products made with the above technologies. With the information you have learned about PFCs in this post, the information you have learned about Gore-Tex in this post, and the alternatives to Gore-Tex listed above, you will be able to use the list of eco-friendly suppliers of alternatives to Gore-Tex that will be available in the next blog post to make conscious changes to your lifestyle habits, with the hope of limiting your exposure to PFCs. By limiting your exposure to PFCs, you can contribute to a healthier lifestyle that is better for you and the environment. Please check out some of the articles mentioned in the recommended reading section below. Thank you!!

Recommended Reading

Insane in the Membrane” by Mike Kessler of Outside Magazine:  A great, in-depth article about the Gore-Tex controversy. http://www.outsideonline.com/outdoor-gear/Insane-in-the-Membrane.html

Breathable but Unbeatable: Alternative Membranes Take on Gore-Tex” by Norman Chan of Tested.com (affiliate site of Jamie & Adam of Mythbusters): A lengthy list of eco-friendly alternatives to Gore-Tex. http://www.tested.com/science/43590-war-on-goretex/

Waterproof Fabrics Buying Guide” by Ellis Brigham Mountain Sports: A great explanation of the workings of waterproof fabrics, with a comparison between Gore-Tex and its competitors. http://www.ellis-brigham.com/advice-inspiration/guides-and-advice/buying-guides/waterproof-fabrics-buying-guide

Chemistry for any Weather: Greenpeace Tests Outdoor Clothes for Perfluorinated Toxins” by Greenpeace: THE comprehensive PFC report by Greenpeace. http://www.greenpeace.org/romania/Global/romania/detox/Chemistry%20for%20any%20weather.pdf

Case Study on Polyurethanes: Sustainability, Comfort, and Versatility” by the European Diisocyanate and Polyol Producers Association (ISOPA): A great case study that covers 75 years of polyurethane. http://www.polyurethanes.org/index.php?page=case-studies-2

Is Polyester Really All That Bad for the Environment?” by Devon-Ritchie of Solcomhouse.com: An interesting read about polyester and the environment. http://www.solcomhouse.com/is-polyester-really-all-that-bad-for-the-environment-125.htm

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