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Sustainability Spotlight: Maintain your Gear with Nikwax and Keep it out of Landfills Longer

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You know we’re all about supporting sustainable brands here at Terradrift. We’re also all about making gear last and keeping it out of the landfill, which is a major win for sustainability. Well then, there couldn’t be a more perfect brand to highlight in this here Sustainability Spotlight series than Nikwax. We’ve used their stuff to clean and maintain our gear for years, so we thought it was high time we sat down with Heidi Dale Allen, the brand’s VP of marketing, so we could hear more about how Nikwax is keeping it clean and advocating for keeping the gear you already have in use for longer. Read on, son!

Various Nikwax products
Various Nikwax products

Terradrift: What is Nikwax about? Why does the company exist and what is its mission?

Heidi Dale Allen: Nikwax makes high performance cleaning and waterproofing products for outdoor clothing, footwear, and equipment. The whole basis of the company is extending the life of gear. The founder, Nick Brown, made his own waterproofing wax for leather (Nick’s Wax- get it?) as all the options at the time softened leather, compromising the support of his hiking boots. He made it his goal to produce a high performance waterproofing that went above and beyond what was available to really help extend the life of his boots. This mentality continues to be a driving force for all Nikwax products!

Well, we’re glad he branched out from just leather cleaner! Where does sustainability come into play in that mission?

When Nick founded the company he had a young family. Beyond extending the life of his outdoor gear, it was also very important to him to create products that were safe to use in the home. This led to our company motto “high performance, low impact.” All Nikwax products are free of PFCs (and we have NEVER used them), as well as aerosol-free, VOC-free, phosphate-free, phthalate-free, and are not persistent in the environment. We never test on animals, and post our RSL list on our website for all to see.

A rain jacket pre-and post-waterproofing.
A rain jacket pre-and post-waterproofing.

Huzzah for that! The brand has always been environmentally conscious, right? What are some ways Nikwax has done things differently?

Indeed. We were one of the first outdoor companies to openly decry the use of PFCs and were the first aftercare company to have an entirely PFC-Free product range. We also were the first outdoor company to retroactively offset its operational carbon emissions all the way back to our founding in 1977.

Impressive! Let’s talk about the brand’s “4 C’s.” What are those about and what do they stand for?

It’s an easy way to break down our areas of environmental focus. Take a look at this image for a breakdown:

Nikwax 4 C's: Clean Chemistry, Carbon Balancing, Conservation and Consumption Reduction.

Why is keeping outdoor gear maintained such an important part of environmental stewardship?

The average American throws out 82 lbs. of textile waste per year. By using Nikwax to extend the life of your outdoor clothing, footwear, and gear you can help reduce this type of waste. We like to say that the greenest outdoor gear is the gear you already have!

Heard. Do you think outdoor brands (and we as consumers) have a duty to protect the places we all love to play and explore?

Of course! It’s our house, we need to keep it clean.

Love it! I know we have some gear that could use some love and cleaning! A summer of camping can sure put some wear and tear on items like tents and rain jackets. So excuse me while I go maintain and protect some gear. And find the brand’s full lineup of products, from tech wash for base layers to synthetic boot cleaner, to wash-in water repellent and more right here. Then protect your gear and get out there and wander on.

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