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Nikwax Wins Prestigious Queen’s Award for Eco-Friendly Product Innovation and Sustainable Practices.

The Queen's Awards for Enterprise: International Trade 2010 Nikwax, global leader in high performance, environmentally-friendly waterproofing solutions, has become the first outdoor brand ever to receive a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Sustainable Development. The award is the most prestigious British environmental award and is testament to Nikwax’s clean waterproofing technology and its commitment to promote sustainable practice.

As a winner of The Queen’s Award, Nikwax will be invited to attend a special reception at Buckingham Palace in London, and will be proud to use The Queen’s Award emblem on Nikwax packaging. The awards are made annually by HM The Queen, and are only given for the highest levels of excellence demonstrated in each category.

Nikwax also has been voted number one by users in four recent outdoor industry awards, which recognized Nikwax products as the leader in both ease of use and durable performance. Breathable jackets can be waterproofed in the washing machine at home, using Nikwax TX.Direct in place of normal detergent. There is no need for heat activation – unlike the many treatments on the market that contain harmful perfluorinated compounds (PFCs).

Nikwax has been keeping people dry and comfortable in the outdoors since 1977, when current Managing Director, Nick Brown, founded the company. Led by Brown’s vision to protect our beautiful outdoor surroundings, the company has always identified environmental and social responsibility as a priority. Nick Brown-crop “We must stop to think about the fuel we burn to arrive at our walk, the energy and materials consumed in the clothing that protect us from the elements, and even the wear on the pathway,” said Brown. “We may be destroying the very hills that we care so much about. Restoring the waterproofing of your outdoor clothing is in itself a sustainable act; using far less energy and money than replacing equipment; and for us, it all counts.”

Nikwax’s stringent restricted chemicals policy sets it apart from other aftercare manufacturers. Nikwax prohibits the use of flammable and aromatic solvents and potentially persistent materials like PFCs – chemicals widely used by other brandsin the waterproofing of outdoor clothing. In contrast to the industry norm, Nikwax is the only established aftercare business in the world never to have used PFCs, knowing that they persist in the environment and can bioaccumulate, building up at higher ends of the food chain.

As tighter legislation kicks in and environmental awareness heightens, Nikwax is fast becoming the go-to brand for environmentally safe waterproofing technology for leading outdoor gear manufacturers worldwide. The latest Nikwax innovation – Nikwax Hydrophobic Down – is about to hit retail stores in Rab’s new range of down-filled sleeping bags and jackets.

Delivering sustainable processes is a fundamental part of Nikwax’s day-to-day rhythm. The company harvests rainwater for use in the manufacture of core products, and has invested in a solar generation system that provides virtually the entire electrical usage of its main office unit, and is carbon balanced though the World Land Trust. Nikwax’s waste reduction initiative has already seen the company’s proportion of waste recycled go from 16-percent in 2006 to 71=percent in 2013. With an 80-percent target for 2014, the company aims to become waste and landfill free in five years. But it doesn’t stop there.

“Taking the ethical route rather than the easy-money road is a difficult decision for some, but minimizing our environmental impact was always the way for me,” said Brown. “I feel immense pride when I see our product on the retail shelves – it’s a win for the customer and conservation. The Queen’s Award is a great endorsement that says, yes, you’re doing alright, keep going.” Nick Brown with Nikwax 2

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The Sustainability of Ski Resorts

Pure backcountry skiers need only look at their gear’s supply chain and their own tracks in the snow to see the environmental footprint of their fun. For those of us who enjoy the occasional chairlift ride and hot soup mid-mountain, the sustainability of skiing infrastructure becomes more complex.

Ski Area Management 101

Snowflake 1

Credit: Brenda Starr~’s Photostream (http://www.flickr.com/photos/brenda-starr/)

Most ski areas in the United States operate at least partially on land leased from the Federal government. Base areas will often be on privately owned land, thereby granting slightly more leniency with the management of that infrastructure. It’s fair to say that most Federal oversight focuses on safety and ski area interactions with Federal laws, such as the Endangered Species Act.

The bottom line, environmentally speaking, is that ski areas are pretty much just like any other corporation: they establish their own environmental ethics.

National Sustainable Slopes Initiative

Stepping in to facilitate an in-progress, industry-driven movement, the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) – a trade association for ski area operators – collaborated on a “Sustainable Slopes Environmental Charter” in 2000. Along with its solution-oriented principles, the charter doesn’t dance around the fact that “…ski areas have some unavoidable impacts.

Updated in 2005, the charter outlines broad philosophies and values. It defines industry-held principles to be used as guidelines for: ski area operations, planning, design, construction, water usage and quality, summertime activities, energy usage and conservation, waste management, fish and wildlife management, forest and wetlands management, air and visual qualities, related transportation, and education and outreach.

The charter even touches on climate change. In 2003, the NSAA partnered with the National Resource Defense Council (NRDC) for a “Keep Winter Cool” program. (Ed. Note: The program no longer exists in its original form.) The NSAA doesn’t mince words.

“Through this policy, we aim to raise awareness of the potential impacts of climate change on our weather-dependent business and the winter recreation experience; reduce our own greenhouse gas emissions; and encourage others to take action as well.”

It goes on to say that not only should ski areas operators voluntarily reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but they should also advocate for national reductions through legislative and regulatory means.

Ask Your Home Area

A list of “endorsing resorts” is on the last page of the online Charter. But to find out what is truly happening on the ground, as opposed to general principles, check out the website for your home area.

Take Aspen Skiing Company, for example. The tony resort may make the news for Charlie Sheen outbursts and other celebrity sightings, but of real interest is its longstanding environmental commitment. The organization has had a vice president of sustainability, Auden Schendler, for over 13 years.

Among the myriad awards and the simple steps like recycling efforts and retrofitting lighting systems, Aspen Skiing Company dives in head first on big projects, too. In 2012, the company earned its sixth Golden Eagle Award for ‘Overall Environmental Excellence.’

The award was earned in large part from a creative collaboration with unlikely suspects: coal and energy utilities. The three entities invested $5.5 million on a methane (a greenhouse gas) capture system at a nearby coal mine. The methane project eliminates the equivalent of three times the carbon pollution the ski resort would otherwise create each year in energy use. Additionally, the project generates carbon negative electricity equal to the amount of energy used by Aspen Skiing Company annually. This is expected to hold true for at least 15 more years. (This paragraph paraphrased from www.aspensnowmass.com/environment. Click through for more comprehensive info.)

What is your local ski area doing to mitigate its environmental impacts? Check into it, and do what you can to help.

Nikwax applauds all efforts – small and large. Sometimes the least recognized achievements have the greatest impact.


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Nikwax is Green to the Core!

For the third consecutive year, Nikwax has received a highly regarded Sunday Times Best Green Companies award, which goes to companies that are recognized as visionaries of sustainable, environmental business practices. Nikwax was founded in 1977 with environmental responsibility as one of its main principles, and continues to lead by example with its staunch environmental policies. Nikwax is the only outdoor company to be honored with the prestigious award.

Nick Brown, Nikwax founder and MD, says, “Nikwax works tirelessly within the company and with suppliers and stakeholders to remain true to our environmental commitments. Our environmental ethos is at the core of everything we do and forms an intrinsic part of every aspect of our business practice. We are incredibly proud to receive this recognition, and to demonstrate that companies of any size can be sustainable and profitable.”

Read about what we did to be recognized here.

London Sunday Times Greenest Companies