Campaigning & Education
At Nikwax we recognise that our own efforts to reduce environmental impacts are but a drop in the ocean compared to the global problem. That’s why we look for ways to amplify our effect, cooperating with other businesses and investing in young people. Our own Managing Director, Nick Brown, is Vice President of the European Outdoor Conservation Association (EOCA), a group raising funds from across the industry to support conservation projects. Nick is also an Ambassador for the World Land Trust, an NGO working to protect threatened ecosystems around the world. Nick’s time is precious to the company, but we also know that these activities help promote conservation and environmental responsibility to a wider audience.
Working with local schools
If we want to progress into a better world, in which people think, act and vote in an environmentally responsible way, it is vital that we equip the next generation with the right tools. At Nikwax we believe that an appreciation and understanding of the natural world, and our place in it, should be a key part of a child’s education.
Staff from our Technical Development and Environmental Management teams, make regular visits to local primary and secondary schools, working with teachers to give workshops on science and sustainable business. Students also visit the company to learn about health and safety in the workplace.
In 2012, Nikwax provided funds for the construction of an “outdoor classroom” at the Ticehurst and Flimwell Primary School. Teachers hope to use this space to give lessons on the environment, but also as a hide from which children can watch the wildlife on the school pond. Our hope is that these experiences will help instil a respect for nature which the children can go on to apply throughout their lives.
Small grants can make a big difference
Sometimes a small grant at the right moment can open up big opportunities for individuals and projects. If you know of a project or person in need of a little back up, please do write to us. Nikwax will always consider such appeals, and do whatever we can to help.
Tchad Solaire – Waterproofing for solar cookers
In 2011, Nikwax was approached by Tchad Solaire, a charity working to improve the lives of Darfurian refugees in the Chadian desert. The need for cooking fuel has put enormous pressure on the surrounding ecosystem, and brought refugees into conflict with the local population. Women leaving the refugee camps in search of firewood are regularly attacked and raped.
Tchad Solaire provides simple but effective solar cookers and training to thousands of families, vastly reducing their need for firewood, and therefore reducing the risks to women and the local ecosystem. These simple devices made from cardboard and aluminium foil, are manufactured inside the refugee camps themselves, providing employment and dignity to the people involved.
Tchad Solaire approached Nikwax because moisture from spillages and condensation was reducing the lifetime of their cardboard cookers. The Nikwax lab developed and tested a special formulation for use in the camp workshops. Tchad Solaire’s testing suggests that Nikwax treatment can extend the life of a cooker by about 50%, delaying the frequency with which they need replacing. For an NGO trying to make the most of limited resources, this represents a significant saving, and allows them to reach more families with the same budget.
The first 300 litre shipment went out to Chad early in 2012, with a larger free shipment of concentrate due later in the year. We’re looking forward to developing an ongoing relationship with Tchad Solaire. To find out more about Tchad Solaire, click here.
Sponsored Student at the COP15 climate negotiations
In 2009 Nikwax was approached by Rose Melissa Ilboudo, a student from Burkina Faso studying International Development in Norwich, UK.
Alongside her studies, Melissa was a tireless fundraiser and campaigner for sustainable development projects in her home country. In her spare time, she travelled around East Anglia giving presentations about the effects of climate change on Burkinabe farmers. Farming is Burkina Faso’s main economic activity, and climatic changes are putting the livelihoods of millions at risk. Melissa’s fundraising supported projects to train farmers in water conservation techniques, and supply drought resistant crop varieties.
Melissa’s work earned her an invitation to join the Burkinabe delegation to the COP15 climate change negotiations in Copenhagen. This was a fantastic opportunity for a dedicated young person to gain valuable experience of international negotiations, and represent her country’s interests at a critical time.
However, no funding was available from her government to cover expenses, and she could not herself afford the trip to Denmark. For lack of a few hundred pounds, it seemed that Melissa would not be able to attend. Luckily, a course mate familiar with Nikwax’s environmental philosophy, suggested she write us a letter and see if we could help. We immediately recognised the importance of such an opportunity, and were more than happy to grant her funding for travel and accommodation.
Melissa is now studying for a Masters Degree. She is determined to return to Africa and dedicate her career to improving the situation of her people, and build their resilience to climate change. We are confident that she will achieve much, and are happy to have played even a small part in her personal development.