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Nikwax and the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award: The Perfect Outdoor Partnership

For the last 12 years, Nikwax and the Duke of Edinburgh Award’s (DofE) have joined forces to help many hundreds of thousands of participants stay comfortable and dry on their DofE expeditions. Not only that, but every purchase of Nikwax products fuels the charity’s mission by funding the next generation of DofE participants – empowering them to push boundaries, acquire lifelong skills, and discover newfound confidence. This remarkable partnership is forging a path for the responsible and eco-conscious explorers of tomorrow!

The DofE: Empowering Young Adventurers
Founded in 1956, by the late Prince Philip, the DofE Award has since expanded to more than 140 countries.  Designed to inspire and challenge young people, this programme offers a great opportunity to develop new skills, take participants out of their comfort zone and reach their full potential through a series of outdoor and community-based activities.  With diversity in mind, the programme is made up of four core components: volunteering, physical fitness, skills development, and adventurous expeditions.  The end result not only being a Bronze, Silver, or Gold Award, but also valuable life skills and a deeper appreciation of nature and the great outdoors!

More recently, the DofE has embarked on ‘Youth Without Limits’, a powerful new strategy which champions inclusivity and accessibility for all.  It reaches out to those who may be marginalised in society or held back by disabilities – the programme means DofE can be available to everybody.

Nikwax: Protecting Nature, Preserving Adventure
Nikwax have been proud to play a part on the DofE journey.  Producing high-quality and environmentally friendly waterproofing and cleaning products for outdoor clothing and gear, it makes us a perfect partner for the DofE. 

Our products are designed to extend the life of your outdoor gear, keeping it performing as new for the long haul.  With reliable waterproofing, your gear remains protected and comfortable even in unpredictable weather. Additionally, by not having to purchase new items every year, you can reduce waste and save money, bonus!

The combination of our product range and longevity of our DofE partnership means together we are able to endure the most challenging adventures.

Nikwax and the DofE
We share common goals through our collaboration.  As well as nurturing a generation of responsible adventurers, Nikwax is committed to protecting the environment with use of recycled plastics, reducing and off-setting carbon emissions, as well as supporting environmental and social causes by donating 1% of our sales to charity.

Our partnership reinforces responsible exploration and environmental stewardship, demonstrating the importance of taking care of our wild isles with young adventurers witnessing first-hand the importance of preserving natural spaces for future generations. 

The future is in their hands
Together, the DofE and Nikwax empower young adventurers to embark on a journey of personal growth, leadership, and environmental stewardship.  Our planet can only benefit from a new generation of eco-conscious and adventure-driven explorers.

Viva the outdoors and all it has to offer!

To learn more about cleaning and caring for Expedition gear, visit:

General kit care advice
Sustainable kit care
Waterproofing and kit care poster

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Interview: we talk environment, sustainability and lockdown, with Nikwax’s Sustainability Director

Here at Nikwax, our passion for the great outdoors and protection of the environment is at the heart of what we do. We constantly strive to improve our sustainability and environmental credentials throughout the business, and with that focus, we employed our own Director of Sustainability.

We speak to Maïté Angleys about Nikwax, the outdoor industry, and the impact of lockdown.

So then Maïté, how did you become Director of Sustainability?
I undertook a Bachelor’s Degree in Intercultural Business Studies and during this course, I started to ask questions about business ethics. Much of what we were taught included telling us ‘this is how businesses should run’ … I began to question that information, or simply did not agree with what I was being told. When the questions became more pressing from me, it led to me moving on to do a Masters in Sustainability Management. I wanted to learn how you lead a business in a sustainable way.  

As part of my Masters, I ended up doing an internship with Páramo – this went really well and I actually went on to do my thesis with Páramo. I analysed sustainability management tools and held a meeting, which Nick Brown (CEO) sat in on. He seemed impressed and went on to ask if I would like to start in a role as Director of Sustainability at Nikwax!

Nikwax has achieved a vast amount over the last 44 years and continues to do so. Since joining the company, what has been a key moment for you within your role as Sustainability Director?
Firstly, it is the creation of the role of Sustainability Director, not because of me having this role! The fact that Nikwax chose to have this role embedded high within the company structure, solely dedicated to this topic, is key. To me, it says a lot about how Nikwax takes this issue seriously – many other companies do not have such a role in their organisation.

We have also just completed the development of our sustainability strategy for 2025. We have seen that across the entire company people have put in extra hours, interest and creativity to the development of this strategy. This is remarkable and cannot be taken for granted. 

What are the current key focuses for Nikwax, in terms of sustainability and the environment?
The most pressing issue is the climate crisis and loss of biodiversity, so we are focusing on our climate action programme, where we work towards energy reduction and reduction of GHG emissions.

With biodiversity loss, we have been re-naturalising the farmland behind one of our business locations in rural Sussex. We are trying to heighten biodiversity right on our doorstep and want to ensure the beautiful landscape continues to exist.

Lastly, our chemical management system, where we are developing a comprehensive and holistic system to ensure nothing hazardous comes in or leaves our production. The chemical management system helps us to constantly develop further and lessen the environmental impact of our products and our production.

Nikwax has forged relationships with a number of environmental organisations, can you tell us a little about these?
Since 2007, we have had a key relationship with the World Land Trust (WLT) through Carbon Balancing. We compensate our operative emissions and our contribution helps to protect and regenerate vital ecosystems. WLT focus on using donations to purchase land in order to conserve fragile habitats, rather than, for example, undertaking reforestation to compensate for C02 emissions. After all, you cannot simply replace one ecosystem with another!

We have worked with the European Outdoor Conservation Association (EOCA) since its foundation in 2006. The great thing with EOCA is that they raise funds from members of the outdoor industry and they have supported some vast conservation projects, which get voted for by members and the public. Our CEO, Nick, was actually the Vice-President for some time on the board of EOCA.

One of their recent campaigns was to plant 2 million trees – which is a lot! – a target they achieved in two years. The Plastic Free: Mountain to Sea project followed, focusing on plastic removal from the environment (rivers, forests and mountains). They smashed their 2-year target of clearing 3,000km of waste, instead clearing a total of 4,183km of plastic pollution! Bringing outdoor members together, they maximise the impact they would have, compared to if each organisation just campaigned by themselves.

Lastly is the Green Commerce and Chemistry Council (GC3). They are US-focused and hold an annual roundtable for green chemistry, which again involves some big industry players. They are dedicated towards developing sustainable chemistry and chemical solutions. There are companies involved such as DuPont and Dow, large-scale companies that may not focus so much on sustainability compared to others. However, in order to evoke change, these are the people to speak to, because the impact they can have due is enormous.

Where would you like to see the outdoor industry in the next 5 years, in terms of sustainability?
For it to be completely PFC-free! This is something that should have happened five years ago – there is no excuse for bigger industry players to proclaim that there is such a thing as “harmless PFCs”, we know there isn’t. To be fully PFC-free definitely needs to happen.

I would like to see the industry well on its way to achieving a Net Zero Co2 emissions target, in line with science-based targets.  Targets are considered ‘science-based’ if they are in line with what the latest climate science deems necessary to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement – limiting global warming to well-below 2°C above pre-industrial levels.

What key things do you feel people could do to help make their lives more sustainable for the planet?
Everybody should always try to consume/purchase less, which is not easy, but with each purchase we make, stop and ask yourself “Do I really need this?”

Secondly, try to purchase better quality products in order to make things last longer. If you purchase items that are better quality, then a) you would have more money and b) things would last longer.

Lastly, think about the impact that advertising has on you. What is causing that need to have something new, to have something else, which can lead to being wasteful? We underestimate how many companies put these thoughts in to our heads, with subtle techniques to keep buying. This need to purchase is often planted into our brains by companies who may not have a very sustainable business model. It is about an awareness that we should try and have.

Do you feel that the past year, with people experiencing lockdown and the pandemic, has had any impact on the environment, or how people just think about the outdoors?
Yes, I think there is a certain change. We can see this across all of Europe – people are becoming more aware of what natural environment is right there on their doorsteps. There is a great meme about the pandemic, ‘Covid or The Great Walk’ – people are walking around their houses and local areas because they cannot travel further afield, so have to explore their immediate location.

Sadly, this is potentially not very long lasting because there is the chance that once this pandemic is over, people could return to their old habits very quickly. I would like to see people learn from this current situation because there is a lot we can compare between the pandemic and the climate crisis. It is something where we have to look reality in the eye, as the climate crisis is so real and right on our doorsteps.

What is your favourite outdoor pastime in Germany and why?
Cycling through Munich. I cycle everywhere – I never used to cycle, it was not something my family really did. I always found it too cold and rainy. However, now I cycle everywhere – you get to see all parts of where you live – you can cycle through the seasons and see your surroundings change around you. I get to experience changes in my neighbourhood and it just makes me feel happy.

Can you give us one happy tip to help people get through this current time when we are experiencing lockdown life?
During lockdown, I have found group Zooms are fun. After a day working online you often wish to escape from your PC, however, meeting online allows you to socialise with a group of people you have not seen for some time, and who have all come together for downtime and some fun. It’s a great mood lifter and a means to interact with friends!

 

 

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Nikwax Expands its Environmental Commitment

Here at Nikwax, we have always been committed to protecting the natural world we love and enjoy, and this is where the focus has been over the over the last 40 years since the company’s inception -by manufacturing low impact products. We have consistently measured our environmental footprint, so we have a solid understanding of any impact we may make on the environment and subsequently make improvements. From balancing our carbon emissions to ensuring chemical safety with our products, here at Nikwax we always strive to make a difference – and now we are furthering our efforts!

Based in rural, leafy Wadhurst, East Sussex, we recently purchased a site with 10 acres of land attached to it that had previously been used for grazing sheep. We wished to expand our environmental focus and not let the land to go to waste.

An exciting project is underway, whereby we are developing this land to expand biodiversity through the creation of different habitats. Our aim is to conserve, protect and restore the land’s natural resources, bringing our environmental and sustainability commitments to the local area. At Nikwax, we feel it is our obligation to reduce our impact on a local level; aside from the global stance we have always had on environmental issues of climate change, or PFC pollution. We have an opportunity right here on our doorstep that could help make a difference!

We have just started a woodland area, with 1,000 trees planted by staff over three days! The species planted are ones suitable to thrive in the location and they include: Common Oak, Hornbeam, Walnut, Field Maple, Hazel, Holly, Hawthorne, Dogwood, Sweet Chestnut, Quickthorn, Spindle, Crab Apple, Aspen, Wild Cherry, Alder Buckthorn and Small Leaved Lime. There will also be a small orchard, containing a selection of fruit trees.

During initial investigations into the land, a camera trap was used to see what wildlife visits the area. Footage showed deer, foxes and badgers all frequenting the land and it became clear that work we undertake needs to incorporate a healthy area for these species and others, to still inhabit, as well as encourage new wildlife to the area!

There are things we can do to help different species flourish on the land, including using dead wood to create insect banks; retaining dying trees, where possible, as a means to support insect and fungi communities; and, ensuring no use of chemical pesticides on the land, but instead sourcing alternative methods. Plans are in place to implement and establish both a grassland area and a wildflower meadow, which would be prime to attract insects, butterflies and bees, as well as installing boxes on the site to encourage barn owls on to the site. A further habitat would be the creation of a Scrape: this is a shallow depression in the land with sloping edges that would hold water seasonally and would support a variety of invertebrates (beetles and bugs etc), as well as provide a vital feeding area for wading birds. Some of the species that would be drawn to the addition of a scrape are important in conservation, so research would be done to ensure that water is held in the scrape through the key months of March to June, as they provide a vital food source for the wading birds.

In the long-term, we hope the site can develop to house a variety of natural zones that will educate and inspire people, with a view that down the line we can look to incorporate the wider community in some way.

Nikwax Sustainability Director, Maite Angleys, said, “Not only our products, logistics and operations form part of our holistic approach on sustainability. When looking at the concept of planetary boundaries, biodiversity is one of the crucial aspects we have to consider. Public discussion aims mainly at a reduction of CO2 emissions, which is an important aspect but the disastrous results of loss of biodiversity are by far underrated. By restoring the natural habitats and woodland we are taking a first step to strengthen local biodiversity and continue our tradition as sustainable, innovative business.”   

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EOCA – Why care?

Recently having a connection to our environment has become increasingly popular. This stems from the disconnect we have with the environment on a day to day basis when we are all plugged into various devices, updating our statuses on social media and watching the all-important hilarious cat videos on YouTube. The need we feel to unplug ourselves from our computers, phones and social media has fuelled the need we feel to go ‘off grid’, have a ‘digital detox and simply just get outside.  So the necessity to protect our environment is more important than ever.

EOCA uses the mantra ‘Leave only footprints, take only photographs, keep only memories’. EOCA’s mantra reminds us that the future enjoyment of our environment is down to us, ultimately if we want to continue to play in nature’s playground then we must take steps to protect it.

For those of you who don’t know who the European Outdoor Conservation Association (EOCA) are or what they do, EOCA is a group of businesses in the European outdoor industry who raise money to put into conservation projects worldwide, giving back to the great outdoors and helping towards the protection of our environment. In their first 12 years of existence, they supported 100 projects raising over £2.1 million.

The steps that we take to protect our environment can be just that ‘steps’, no matter how big or small we can all definitely do more. EOCA has some basic advice that we can all follow when you are tuning out and enjoying the great outdoors:

  1. Keep safe – plan ahead and be prepared.
  2. Be mindful of locals – park thoughtfully, and keep dogs under close control.
  3. Co-operate with farmers and other landowners and managers.
  4. Respect and leave undisturbed the natural habitats and wildlife you come across.
  5. Preserve the past – do not remove or tamper with historical structures.
  6. Respect and be courteous to other outdoor users. Minimise your impact on their ‘natural experience’.
  7. Take home your litter and waste or dispose of it responsibly.
  8. Check and follow the laws and codes of conduct established in your country for the activity you are planning to undertake.
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How to clean and waterproof your winter jacket

We often get asked how to use our products effectively. And while we love answering your questions, we thought it might be useful to create a ‘How To Use’ guide for two of our most popular products – Tech Wash and TX.Direct Wash-In.

Nikwax Tech Wash

  •  First, remove all detergent build-up from your detergent draw (regular detergent is water attracting so the draw must be cleaned out thoroughly)
  • For cost-effective cleaning, place up to two items in your washing machine
  • Add either 100ml of Tech Wash (soft water area) or 150ml (medium/hard water area) into your detergent tray, or in the drum with a Nikwax wash ball
  • Set your washing machine and wash according to the garment’s care label.

For those stubborn stains that just won’t come out, use Nikwax Tech Wash neat with a sponge or nylon brush and scrub lightly before cleaning with Tech Wash as normal.

 Nikwax TX.Direct Wash-In

  • As with Tech Wash, thoroughly clean your detergent draw
  • After cleaning with Tech Wash, add one or two items to your washing machine
  • Add 100ml of TX.Direct per item to your detergent tray or wash ball
  • Set your washing machine and wash according to the garment’s care label

And voila! Clean and waterproof garments with minimal hassle and great results.

Hopefully this will clear up some FAQs, but feel free to fire across any other question you have. Contact us by:

Twitter: @nikwax

Facebook: www.facebook.com/nikwax.waterproofing

Phone: 01892 768400

Email: info@nikwax.com

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Nikwax grant sends environmental film maker to Iceland

In May of this year, I was able to travel with Risan Media to Iceland with the support of a Nikwax Environmental Grant.

I wanted to travel to Iceland to document parallel scientific research around climate change, renewable energy production and outdoor recreation on glaciers. I had been communicating with Dr. Tomas Johannesson from the Icelandic office of meteorology and I coordinated my trip in May of this year around the annual spring mass balance research by the Icelandic Meteorological Office and Glaciological Society on the Mýrdalsjökull volcanic glacier ice cap.

The trip was incredible and I was able to film throughout the country and was afforded a very special opportunity to interview Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, the President of Iceland.

Before heading to Iceland, I also garnered the support of Bergans of Norway, Fitwell, Swany, Sierra Designs, PraNa, Giro, Voile, Mountainsmith and Seagate from the US. I was fortunate enough to gain a sponsorship with SNO Glacier water, the only nitrate free glacier and high in oxygen water from Iceland. I was also able to establish partnerships with some supportive Icelandic companies such as Icelandair, Geysir, Hotel Laxnes, the Blue Lagoon, Einstök, Heydalur, Hotel Hraunsnef, Hotel Isafjordur, Bergmenn Mountain Guides, Húsabakki, Hestar and West Tours.

I flew from Denver to Reykjavik, picked up my car rental and headed off to film at the Blue Lagoon geothermal springs. I enjoyed the mineral waters and filmed there and along the southwest coast.

The next day I visited the Hellisheidi geothermal plant for a tour and interview regarding the process and capacity of geothermal energy production there, and was amazed that they are able to heat Reykjavik by piping the hot water to the city.

Next up I met with the team of scientists from the Glaciological Society and Meteorological Office. I loaded up the super jeeps on 38” wheels and headed south along the coast. There, the ocean meets farmland with sheep and horses, tall cliffs and waterfalls. We headed up a gravel road north towards the ice cap with three vehicles. Once on snow, the team would deflate the immense tires so that we would have traction as we climbed the almost 1500 meter ice cap that covers the Katla volcano.

The team broke into three groups and began conducting research at different locations. The vehicle I was in traversed bumpy snowdrifts following the GPS to the research location that they have visited annually. The team began drilling ice cores into the flat, snow-covered ice cap and carefully measured the cylinders of snow and firn in length and mass in order to calculate density.

I had a great time filming on the ice cap and it was suggested that I join a scientist the following day on the neighboring Eyjafjallajökull outlet glacier. The research that day consisted of steam drilling into the ice for ablation poles that are used to calculate glacier ablation/melting and ice velocity. I enjoyed hiking on the ice with crampons and have previously done some steam drilling on the Gulkana glacier in Alaska with a team from UAF, so the technique was familiar.

Hot springs in Iceland
One of Iceland’s fantastic natural hot springs

I then drove North mostly along the coastline and travelled along the winding roads of the West Fjords to Heydalur. The historic guesthouse has many horses, a stocked trout pond on the stream that meets the fjord, natural hot springs and an indoor greenhouse.

Then I headed to the historic town of Isafjordur, which is situated below steep snow-covered peaks. I was able to interview and enjoy a sea kayaking session with the talented sea kayak guide, Halldór Sveinbjörnsson, in the waters of the inlet there.

The following day I arrived at Husabakki near Dalvik and settled in at the hostel to prepare for a day of split boarding from sea to summit with Bergmenn Mountain Guides. We had a group of 8 or so with two guides and skinned up spring corn snow on peaks rising from the ocean outside Akureyri. It was a bit cloudy but the snow was good and thrilling to ride straight down towards the ocean.

Todd and Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson
Todd meets with Icelandic President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson

My last day in Iceland allowed for filming throughout Reykavik and a visit to the presidential residence, Bessastaðir, for an interview with Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson. The President is very intelligent and kind and responded to my questions in great length. I asked him of his youth growing up in Isafjordur, where I had just been. Most of our conversation was focused on his perspectives and initiatives on climate change impacts in Iceland and the Arctic. He discussed his cooperative initiatives between countries of the Arctic and the Himalayan region with these issues. He also elaborated on the concept of the Himalaya as the Third Pole in regards to the volume of ice that, with climate change, is impacting the livelihoods of billions of people.

The President established the first Arctic Circle Conference in 2013, which was attended by 1,200 delegates from over 40 countries. He suggested I attend and I registered with Risan Media to attend the conference. It looks like I will have an opportunity to lead a presentation and to show a Risan Media Iceland video at the conference as well!

The support from Nikwax enabled me to have diverse experiences in Iceland and to document further material for The Risan Film Project. You can find further information on the projects at www.risanmedia.com

To find out more information about Nikwax Environmental Grants and to apply, visit https://www.nikwax.co.uk/en-gb/environment/campaigning.php

 

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Hannah and Chico: Welsh Vacation

The latest blog from Hannah and her trusted friend, Chico:

I last sent a message at the very beginning of last July’s heat wave, when the rains of June were still fresh. The walk around Wales took another four and a half months; Chico the donkey and I finally arrived back in Aberystwyth in mid-November, having completed the full 1000-mile circumnavigation of the country.

We were very lucky. The adventure was dreamed up in 2012 during the wettest summer on record, and the organising all happened during last spring’s interminable coldness, when we all wondered whether the trees would ever get the chance to sprout leaves. I’d like to say it took faith, but actually I just tried not to think about it.

Here comes the rain…

After the heat wave which blazed right through July and half of August, we slow little travellers walked right on through a very mild September and October. There was rain, but never for more than a day, which meant that we always dried off before the next shower.

November got tougher – the rain started falling with vigour, and it doesn’t take long to become quite mouldy and wretched. My shoelaces, less than a month old, rotted and snapped. Food supplies got wet, bread in particular soaking up the leaks. Usually I’d manage to find a phone box to refold my map in, but occasionally there was nothing. Those maps – north Pembrokeshire and south Ceredigion – are still wrinkled and rubbed, with place names ominously missing forever, like whole villages might have been washed into the gutter along with us.

Chico, a hater of rain through and through, from his desert-dwelling genes to his unsuitably fuzzy, oil-less hair, had got so dependent on me that he’d often opt to stand in the rain where he could see me rather than take shelter. We were a sorry bunch.

And yet I wouldn’t have changed it for anything. I was living outside, and rain is part of outside (and Nikwax helps!) I was walking around Wales, and rain is definitely part of this green isle. But most of all, the rain was a fine reminder to be flexible, and attempt to be relaxed with uncertainty.

Power alarms

Climate change seems to be behind the extremes of weather, and that is scary. For the span of human history we have been creatures at the mercy of the elements, and now we are the ones with the power – it doesn’t sit easily.

I think privileged humankind are suspended between feeling powerful and feeling powerless. Collectively people suddenly have the power to change the weather, but individually it’s hard not to see my shorter shower, diligent recycling or energy-saving light bulb as a tiny squeak of desperation in the roar of threatened existence.

Individually we have the power to change how we live. So what to do? Do what you can, of course. Mend and reuse, buy less and recycle, ally yourself to brands and companies that you know care. Make changes that enrich your life, not ones that feel like sacrifice.

And make friends with uncertainty. During the heat wave I had friends who flew to the Philippines, to Croatia and to Spain, for guaranteed sun on their understandably precious summer holidays. Meanwhile I basked and burned, day after day, in fantastic Welsh sunshine – absolutely not guaranteed and somehow all the more wonderful for it. When the rain began there were still all sorts of sensory treasures – the smells and sounds of storms, wild winds that Chico and I leaned into on Strumble Head, occasional rainbows, and fierce hailstorms on the tent at 3am.

Make friends with uncertainty. Adventure stems from it, a donkey as a companion guarantees it! You need a resilient and resourceful attitude to cope with it, and that’s a thing well worth cultivating. And it looks to be the way the world is going.

And then? Get out there, whatever the weather.

 

See more Seaside donkey activity here: www.seasidedonkey.co.uk Like Hannah and Chico on Facebook here: www.facebook.com/seasidedonkey … and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/hannahengelkamp Hannah is currently working on the book and the film of the adventure, following a successful Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign. You can pre-order the book and film at www.seasidedonkey.co.uk/shop, or sign up to the newsletter to be kept informed of progress!