The British firm, Nikwax, make a line of environmentally benign aftercare and waterproofing solutions that give footwear, apparel and equipment an extended useful life. For this reason we've featured them in a few TreeHugger gift guides as they reduce the consumption of resources by keeping gear performing without having to buy new stuff.
Last month Nikwax received the international ISO 14001 certification for environment management. Normally this wouldn't move this writer, because ISO 14001 is more about recording management processes, than ensuring real change happens on the ground. It is conceivable that a land mine factory could be ISO 14001 accredited, but that wouldn't make its product any more environmentally credible. But for Nikwax we'll make an exception and be impressed. This assessment paper on Environmental Management Systems for UK Businesses (PDF) sums up the ISO 14001 situation: "The ISO 14001 also has many shortcomings. The most often heard criticism is that ISO 14001 certification does not measure the actual environmental performance of a plant or company. [...] The ISO 14001 standard simply assumes that a good environmental management system will, if they are implemented effectively, lead to continuous environmental performance improvement."
But such concerns seem not to apply to Nikwax, because they have used the ISO 14001 certification process to actually improve how they run their business, rather than as the marketing tool that many enterprises seek it for. Their media release on SNEWS indicates what else they've accomplished:
"Metrics established through the 18-month process of achieving certification shows the remarkable dedication and results of the Nikwax team. By checking waste control, optimizing consumption of resources (water, electricity, fuel, etc.) and boosting pollution prevention, Nikwax:
• Increased recycling from four lines to 10
• Decreased waste to landfill by 50-percent
• Now uses 95-percent renewable energy
• Trained 60-percent of staff in environmental awareness
• Reduced gas consumption by 21-percent"
That's on top of making products which were already all fluorochemical-free, derived from nature-based ingredients, not tested on animals, biodegradable, whilst free of propellant gases and volatile organic chemicals.
All of which helps explain why Nikwax also scored a place as the only British outdoor company in The Sunday Times Green List 2009
More Outdoor Gear
• TreeHugger's How to Green Your Outdoor Sports.
• Holiday Gift Guide: For the Outdoors Enthusiast