We’re working to improve how we communicate environmental issues
We really do believe that Nikwax stands out when it comes to environmental policy. The company is still owned and run by its founder Nick Brown, and it is his passion and understanding of environmental science which guides the rest of us in our work. We don’t have to justify our decisions to profit focused shareholders, so if Nick believes in an environmental project, and we can afford to do it, then we will.
What we haven't done well in the past is to communicate to the general public what we do and why we do it. We collect and analyse large amounts of data on our environmental performance for internal use, but have yet to find a way of easily sharing it with our customers. That’s what we’re working on now, and our hope is that it will allow the public to judge our environmental credentials based on measurable, verifiable facts.
In the coming months this area of the website see a major reworking.
Expect to see, in video, graphic, and written forms…
- A full explanation of our environmental philosophy, what the issues of greatest concern are, and our strategy for addressing them.
- Transparent and honest presentation of the audited data we collect on carbon emissions, resource consumption, waste management, packaging, and more.
- Details of all the conservation and development projects which we support, including the World Land Trust, Trees for Life, the Miquelina Foundation and Tchad Solaire.
- And much more!
In the meantime, here are some important and verifiable facts about our environmental policy.
We DO NOT, never have and never will...
- Sell or produce aerosols;
- Use any kind of fluorocarbon water repellents in our products; PFCs : C8, C6 or otherwise.
- Produce high performance products which extend the life of outdoor gear;
- Measure our carbon footprint and offset it with the World Land Trust;
- Measure other environmental footprint indicators, such as water consumption and waste;
- Aim for continuous improvement - working to reduce our impact every year;
- Promote the conservation of wild spaces and our environment, as shown in the article below.
"The real motivation behind environmentalism is spiritual"
Article by Nick Brown, published in Walk magazine, December 2011.
I wonder how many of us can remember the first really big hill we climbed, and looked down to see an expanse of greens and blues below us and above, and experienced wonder and passion. There is no doubt in my mind that, whatever our personal beliefs, feeling the beauty and power of landscape unencumbered by machines and human noise is one of the great spiritual connections. It is about love.
The first mountain I climbed, at about 12 years old, was Snowdon. Subsequently I have had the privilege to visit the Andes and walk up to a point near Machu Picchu, where I could look down 3,000 metres to a river bed and lush tropical forest, and up 2,500 metres to massive snowy peaks, and know that it took me 4 days to walk there; it is about sensation.
And you know that the fact that you sweated your way up the hill and burst your lungs to arrive at that point becomes an integral part of the experience. It was all worthwhile. And the closer you look at nature, the more you find that same expanse of beauty in something you can hold within your hand.
It is entirely natural that we would want our children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren to be able to feel the same wonder. Therein lies the core of sustainability; we want to keep the world for future generations.
How green is my jacket?
But, do we stop to think at that point on the trail about the fuel we burned to arrive at the start of our walk, or the energy and materials consumed in the clothing we wore to protect us from squalls and downpours? Or the erosion on the pathway that we trod to bring us to that point, that may be destroying the very hills that we care for so much?
Walkers are as concerned with the bigger picture of global warming and environmental manufacturing as they are with footpaths and countryside protection. We all want to be green, but we need to tread a path between being an environmental Taliban or eco-puritan, and being an irresponsible outdoor hedonist. We must not ban the music of trekking in wild places, but equally we should keep 4x4 drivers out of irreplaceable avian habitats in wetland national parks (a sore point for me, having seen the damage on a walking trip in Sardinia just last month)!
We all need to start somewhere and 2012 could represent a turning point to a more sustainable you. I’ve put together five steps that you might find helpful in your quest to walk a more sustainable path.
- Get yourself more informed. If you become more aware, then you will become more motivated to act. I was really spurred to act when I attended a fantastic international conference in Perth in 2005, about change in the mountains. It was then that I first appreciated the scale of change taking place, through listening to properly informed scientists (Mountain Research Institute). If you want to read about environmental change the BBC News website is excellent, as is the Met Office, and also New Scientist.
- Start small and improve. Continuous, small improvement is (literally) infinitely better than no improvement. Start small. Just getting a few more waste bins for your kitchen is a small investment which makes recycling easier. Loft insulation will save you energy and money in the long term. Start with the easy things, like choosing a low emission car, where measurement is transparent. At Nikwax we have controlled down our energy consumption, so now we are putting in some solar panels, and using rainwater for some of our production.
- Support companies that take the environment seriously. One retailer said to us, “We want to be seen to be green, so you need to make your label greener.” I nearly boiled over. Look deeper than the eco-label – progress is about empirical, measurable, verifiable action. Starting questions might be, “Does the company have a corporate and social responsibility document? Are they audited? Do they declare how they measure their environmental impact?” If any of the answers are no, then you may as well ignore their environmental claims.
- Support people who communicate the importance of environmental protection. Get involved in spreading the word: sustainability is not about pain and self-flagellation. It is about intelligent living and looking after the global family. It is a good idea to choose an organisation and then work with it. Nikwax and Páramo support the World Land Trust, and use them to offset carbon emissions. I am on the governing body of the European Outdoor Conservation Association (EOCA), which collects money from outdoor companies to support conservation projects.
- Don’t get stuck in the past and be discouraged. Be aware that we have already changed our environment. Sustainable thinking should also be about adaptation and conservation in a changing world. Massive change is now inevitable, but a sustainable approach to living will make a brighter future for our global family.
Finally, none of us can be perfect, but if we aim for continuous improvement and positive compromise, there is a chance of a better future for the generations to come.