Welcome to our Environmental Superheroes – Nikwax blog post. This is the first in an occasional series celebrating outdoor brands flying the flag for sustainable manufacture. We hope you find it of interest.
That well known superhero Spiderman once said that ‘with great power comes great responsibility’ and, of course, he was right. Anyone in a position to influence and guide the way others act surely should be the best role model possible. For manufacturing companies this is especially important in relation to their ethos of environmental protection.
Peak Mountaineering is a tiny fish in a very big pond and yet we always aimto do our best. We are well aware that most of our operations have a negative environmental impact. So, we try to balance that as much as possible by demonstrating and influencing good practice whenever and however we can. The bigger fish can have the same ethos and yet spread their message much wider.
In the outdoor industry some fish do more influencing than others and we think they should be celebrated and applauded. Of course, companies may simply push their good environmental practices as a marketing tool. It is usually easy to see those that are genuine in their intentions. These are the ones we are interested in. So, in this occasional series we celebrate those Environmental Superheroes. Those who, like Spidey, take their great responsibility seriously. First up is Environmental Superheroes – Nikwax.
I have a long history with Nikwax. They have been in business 40 years and I remember they were the product I was encouraged to use, as a young scout, on my very first pair of walking boots. Now I can’t deny that was a fair few decades ago. Even then it was clear they were a force to be reckoned with and recognised as a quality brand.
The brand was set up by Nick Brown in 1977. Nick was a keen backpacker and saw a market gap for a good quality leather proofing product. Soon, Nick also saw the need to minimise environmental impact. From very early in their history the brand focussed on creating a water based range that was both user friendly and avoided harmful aerosols.
In my earlier years I must admit that environmental focus completely passed me by. I was simply looking for products that worked. Effectiveness is still a major factor for me, but being planet friendly is now a major reason I always choose Nikwax products. This for my own equipment proofing needs. As a business, they are also the only proofing brand we use.
In a recent interview Nick said that consumers increasingly ‘will want the brands they choose to have a history they can be proud of’ and he is so right. Nikwax stacks up extremely well on all proud history parameters and the brand is now a global leader in enviro friendly aftercare and waterproofing solutions.
Nikwax is distributed in 50 countries, has never used aerosols or fluorocarbons, their products aren’t tested on animals and they are constantly innovating to improve and develop the sustainability and performance of their offerings. It is a proud history and, even after 40 years in business, a very bright future awaits for a company founded simply by a globe trotting student with an idea.
I say a bright future because that’s the future Nikwax is now focused on. The company has an impressive tally of industry and enviro awards and has just added the prestigious Outdoor Industry Sustainable Innovation Award for their BaseFresh laundry conditioner. BaseFresh, along with WoolWash, BaseWash and SandalWash is a range designed for all technical base layers and wicking clothing and is offered under their Sweatproofing banner.
We all have a choice to make in the brands we choose and the products we use. However, in the product area Nikwax operate in I’m not sure there are many other obvious options. The company produce great products and give back in every way. This is through organisations like the EOCA and World Land Trust. Through initiatives like this, for example, they are protecting tropical forests. Infact, they have amazingly encouraged enough vegetation regeneration to offset all their carbon emissions for the time since they first went into business.
Nikwax products are also used in areas you might not even imagine. Many brands use their PFC-free hydrophobic down in their sleeping bags and jackets. Paramo use Nikwax for their waterproofing systems. We always use Rab sleeping bags and the hydrophobic treatments have revolutionised the down performance in the moist climates we often work in.
The Nikwax website is a brilliant resource (available here). All their environmental credentials are clearly explained and supported by relevant scientific test data. Nikwax also offer a clear insight into their philosophies and there is lots of information about how to care for your garments.
We need more Environmental Superheroes in all aspects of our life, but for outdoor activists the desire to protect the wild places we hold so dear is vital. We also can’t avoid the need to use proofers and chemical products to protect us from the elements. The question is how we can balance the two. Fortunately, Nikwax is on our side.
We hope you found this Environmental Superheroes – Nikwax piece of interest. We are adding to this series all the time. You may also find our superheroes piece about Aku of interest too. This is available here.