Unfortunately, the process of waterproofing textiles is a highly polluting one. The industry uses perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) to weatherproof textiles; these compounds not only are very toxic to produce, but they are released into the environment during use with collateral effects such as cancer. When I discovered that I was so horrified that I decided to throw away all my toxic raincoats and look for a new clean alternative.
On the positive side, I have to say that in recent years the industry has been moving towards increasing sustainability by adopting materials produced with recycled PET fibers which not only do not require PFC treatments, but also contribute to clean up the environment.
These high-tech fabrics from recycled fibers are a good green alternative to polluting textiles, the other possibility for the eco-conscious consumer are fabrics who were first developed in the pre-oil era. I am talking about the waxed cotton canvas that had been used for centuries by sailors and fishermen.
Between high-tech and pre-industrial my personal preference goes to the latter, because of its natural feel and texture; however, the high tech choice is definitely more practical in terms of cost and maintenance of the garment.
The final shortlist for the search of my new eco-friendly non-toxic raincoat includes both types, and I’m still undecided, let me know what you think.