Our Ethics


Where do our ethics come from?

Páramo, and its sister company Nikwax, are still owned by their founder Nick Brown. Nick's lifelong concern for social development and environmental protection has driven early adoption of responsible practices, and has attracted many like-minded thinkers to work amongst us. Páramo is a company of people who want to make a difference as well as make a living, and our policies and programmes reflect this.

Páramo's® no compromise outdoor gear offers high performing waterproofs without users having to sacrifice environmental and ethical principles.

Choose a topic below to find out more about what we do and why...

ETHICAL MANUFACTURING


Páramo’s partnership with the Miquelina Foundation in Bogotá, Colombia began in 1992. This partnership gives valuable opportunities for vulnerable people – women at risk of prostitution and drugs are offered training and employment, homes and childcare. Over 80% of Páramo’s annual production occurs at Miquelina, including all our Analogy waterproof garments.

The Miquelina Foundation

In 1977, a Colombian nun, Esther Castaño Mejia set up a sewing workshop with a few second hand sewing machines to offer practical help to women rescued from the streets of Bogotá. The workshop provided training and experience enabling women to apply for jobs in other factories, but at this stage was not a commercially viable manufacturer.

Páramo’s founder, Nick Brown, made contact with Miquelina in 1992, and since then Páramo and Miquelina have grown together – allowing Miquelina to help significant numbers of women and their families, and enabling Páramo to make high quality outdoor clothing.

With encouragement from Páramo, Miquelina incorporated as an independent charitable foundation in 1997 and in 2002 obtained ISO 9001 accreditation, a highly prestigious international standard recognising dedication to quality.

Miquelina’s achievements

The profits of the factory are reinvested in equipment and significant donations are made to the other associated projects, including a housing cooperative, canteen, nursery school and training facilities. Miquelina has developed from a small section of a charity that survived on donations to an important source of employment and funding for community projects.

The Foundation provides employment and training for 400+ vulnerable women each year, who want to improve their lives. 120+ houses have been built, 460 under 5s attend the nursery and 450 children eat daily in the canteen.

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PÁRAMO® RECYCLING SCHEME


If you no longer need your Páramo, we'll take it back.


Paramo Recycling SchemePáramo is always looking for the path of least environmental impact. The Páramo Recycling Scheme is our way of providing a safe route for disposal of unwanted garments. We'll take back any Páramo product (except underwear), and either find it a new home, or recycle it into new fabric. As a reward for your effort in getting old gear back to us, you can expect a generous discount on new Páramo products.

What we do with your gear

Repair and re-use...

  • It is always preferable to re-use before recycling, so if an old garment can be refurbished at reasonable cost, our expert workshop will do so. Repaired and refurbished items then make their way to appreciative new owners via our second-hand outlet.

Buy Páramo Recycled...

  • You can choose from the best garments returned through the Páramo Recycling Scheme - these garments may have already seen adventures and have now been restored to good condition so that they are primed and ready for a new adventurous owner - at a generous saving!

    With a 12 month warranty, they will enjoy the chance to get out on the hill again!

    To visit Páramo Recycled on eBay click here

Recycle...

  • If an item is beyond repair, it is stripped of any useful components and baled up ready for shipping to a specialist recycling facility. We aim to use a chemical recycling process which, unlike traditional textile recycling, preserves the value and quality of the material. This ensures the material doesn't enter a spiral of "downcycling" which eventually ends up in landfill. Your old garment will become high quality fabric rather than cheap and disposable cushion filling.

Why recycle Polyester?

Recycling reduces the need for landfill...

  • By recycling polyester, we divert it from the main alternative which is to bury it at landfill sites. Creating new landfill sites is becoming increasingly difficult to do without destroying areas of natural habitat and aesthetic beauty. The less polyester we send to landfill, the less we have to dig up the countryside.

Recycling reduces carbon dioxide emissions...

  • Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a greenhouse gas, and as such a driver of climate change. There are two ways in which recycling polyester can reduce CO2 emissions. Firstly, it eliminates the risk of the fabric being incinerated as a means of disposal, which would release the carbon locked up in the material. Secondly, it requires less energy to recycle polyester than is required to replace it with virgin polyester made from scratch. Most of the energy used in industry still comes from burning fossil fuels, so a saving in energy means a saving in CO2 emissions.

Recycling reduces the demand for extraction of raw materials...

  • The raw material used to make polyester is crude oil. Extracting oil from the ground is a dirty business, laden with environmental and social risks (see Deepwater Horizon, Canadian tar sands, Amazonian pollution). By recycling polyester, we conserve the material we've already extracted and help reduce the need for more drilling.

Our fabrics are uniquely suited for recycling...

  • The Nikwax Analogy fabric system is what makes Páramo waterproof clothing so durable and easy to repair. This same system, which avoids the need for mixed materials, membranes and taped seams, also makes our gear uniquely suited for recycling. It uses 100% polyester, which unlike most other materials, can be broken back down to its basic building blocks and reformed into new fibre.

Up to £50 off your next purchase!

Páramo is always looking for the path of least environmental impact. The Páramo Recycling Scheme is our way of providing a safe route for disposal of unwanted garments. We'll take back any Páramo product (except underwear), and either find it a new home, or recycle it into new fabric. As a reward for your effort in getting old gear back to us, you can expect a generous discount on new Páramo products.

How to participate

Recycling your Páramo garment is easy. You can either send it in by post, or hand it in personally at one of our participating retailers including our own Páramo brand shops or bring it along to a Páramo direct event.

By post...

Please print, complete and send this form with your freshly laundered garment to the address below. Once we receive your garment and completed form, our Customer Service team will send you a confirmation email containing your discount code which can be used online or in our Covent Garden or Wadhurst brand stores.

Páramo Recycling Scheme,
Páramo Ltd,
Unit F, Durgates Industrial Estate,
Wadhurst, East Sussex,
TN5 6DF.

In person...

Drop your laundered garment in at our Covent Garden shop, our Wadhurst Shop, at one of our participating retailers or, alternatively, you can bring it along to any Páramo direct event.

You'll be able to use your discount that very same day. Alternatively, the staff in our own brand stores or at Páramo events can arrange for an online code to be sent to your email address for use at a later date if you prefer.

Full Terms and Conditions...

Only garments made with genuine Nikwax Analogy or Páramo fabrics will be accepted into the recycling scheme. By entering a garment into the Páramo Recycling Scheme, the participant surrenders ownership of the garment to Páramo Ltd. In exchange, the participant will receive a discount on an immediate in-store purchase, or will receive an online voucher issued by Páramo HQ for use on the Páramo Hill & Mountain or Naturally Páramo websites. In either case, the discount will be awarded according to the following criteria:

In exchange for...

Exclusions

Páramo will award...

Conditions for use of discount voucher

Any garment made using genuine Nikwax Analogy fabrics, and not specifically listed for exclusion.
This includes garments branded as Nikwax Analogy Waterproof, Nikwax Analogy Fleece, and Nikwax Analogy Insulator.

Gaiters, waterproof caps, and of course any non-Analogy garments.

A single use £50 discount applicable to items worth more than £125 RRP.

Only one discount can be used at a time. The discount cannot be used in conjunction with any other promotional offers including multi-buys, points schemes etc.
The discount can however be used in conjunction with prepaid gift vouchers.

Online voucher codes will be valid for 12 months from the issue date.

Any other genuine Páramo garment, not specifically listed for exclusion. This includes windproofs, Nikwax Fleece, Parameta base and mid-layer garments.

Underwear (briefs, boxers, microshorts and long johns) cannot currently be accepted for health and safety reasons.

A single use £10 discount, applicable to purchases worth more than £25 RRP.


The in-store discount applies to purchases made at the Páramo Shop in Covent Garden, the Wadhurst Showroom or at Páramo direct events only, and cannot currently be used with third party retailers.

Páramo cannot take responsibility for any items lost in the post, and suggests that participants retain proof of postage.

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GEAR THAT LASTS


Gear that lasts

Páramo garments offer significant advantages over other manufacturers’ garments in terms of durability and longevity. Fabrics and components are high quality; designs are classic and timeless, translating function into style.

Páramo waterproofs use fabrics designed NOT to become obsolete. The unique Nikwax Analogy fabric system provides fantastic ultra-breathable and Directional performance, keeping the weather out without recourse to laminates, membranes or taped seams. As a result, there is no element to break down or fail over time. Instead, the waterproofing is renewable indefinitely with water-based Nikwax aftercare products. Páramo waterproof garments are easily repairable and are not compromised by puncture (you could stick pins all over a Páramo waterproof, take them out and it will still keep the rain out). As a result, many of our original jackets are used daily and still performing equally well after 15+ years.

Individuals who choose Páramo aren’t forfeiting outdoor performance. They get superior garments, with a lifetime guarantee, renowned for long term performance, durability and renewability, chosen by mountain professionals such as rescue teams, outdoor instructors and mountain guides and organisations such as National Parks.

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SUPPORT FOR CONSERVATION


Support for conservation

Our love for the outdoors goes beyond being active in it – we also recognise our responsibility to protect it. Without rainforests and other natural habitats, we would not only forfeit the marvellous biodiversity which makes them so stunning, but also endanger the vital ecosystems which humans rely on. That’s why Páramo have helped to fund a variety of conservation projects.

Working with the World Land Trust

World Land TrustLike any other area of the business we want to make sure that our money is well spent. Donating to the World Land Trust is the best way we can find to ensure that threatened ecosystems are protected, not just today, but forever. The World Land Trust strategy is to use donations to purchase land in areas of ecological importance, and work with local partners and communities to manage the reserves sustainably.

Working with local people is at the core of the World Land Trust’s philosophy. Land purchases are ultimately handed over to local NGOs, who are best placed to gain the support and understanding of the communities involved. Small scale sustainable development projects allow the reserves to support themselves, ensuring their long term survival. Visit the World Land Trust website to find out more.

At Páramo and Nikwax we have been calculating our primary carbon dioxide emissions since 2007. Every year since then we have offset those emissions, plus an estimated figure for a pre-2007 year, by donating to the Río Canandé Reserve in Ecuador. These funds are used to regenerate damaged areas and prevent further deforestation by extending the reserve.

As well as a donation to cover our carbon footprint, we make a matching donation for use in the World Land Trust’s most urgent appeals. The WLT Action Fund provides the means to make land purchases where ecosystems are under imminent threat. Visit our blog for the latest updates on our work with WLT.


Working with EOCA

EOCAThe European Outdoor Conservation Association raises funds from across the outdoor industry to support conservation projects nominated by its members. By the end of 2016, EOCA will have contributed more than €2 million to conservation projects around the world.

Páramo’s founder and MD, Nick Brown, is now Vice President of the association - cooperating with other businesses is an important way to spread the conservation message and encourage wider participation.


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WORKING TOWARDS WATER-REPELLENCY
WITHOUT HAZARDOUS FLUOROCARBON CHEMICALS (PFCS)


PFCs are commonly used, but at a cost to human health and the environment.

In December 2013, Greenpeace produced the report "Chemistry for Any Weather – Part II" to follow up its 2012 publication “Chemistry for Any Weather”, highlighting the continued widespread use of hazardous perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) in the outdoor industry. PFCs are a family of chemicals with very useful water and oil repellent properties, and as such are often applied to outdoor clothing.

However, PFCs also have some very undesirable properties; all PFCs are persistent in the environment meaning they cannot be broken down by natural processes, and many members of the PFC family have been shown to be bio-accumulative, meaning that they build up in the bodies of animals. A growing body of scientific research has also linked PFCs to a range of human health issues including damaged immune systems in children1, an increased risk of breast cancer2 and compromised fertility3.

The direct risk to consumers from using PFC treated clothing is minimal, especially when compared to using a PFC based spray in your home. However, the manufacturing process for PFC treated clothing is responsible for release of these substances into local waterways. Because PFCs don’t break down in the environment and can be easily transported in air and water, any release of these chemicals contributes to a global background pollution for everyone. This is why we believe that the ideal solution is to eliminate the use of PFCs in both manufacturing and aftercare.

Páramo works with Nikwax to find a safe alternative

The findings of the Greenpeace report came as no surprise to our founder and CEO, Nick Brown. As leader of our sister company Nikwax, he has been an outspoken critic of the use of these chemicals in the outdoor industry. Nikwax has specialised in waterproofing products for use at home in a washing machine, and has never used PFCs because of the high risk of exposure to the consumer.

Nikwax aftercare products are manufactured from raw materials in Nikwax’s own facility in the UK, allowing 100% confidence that PFCs are not used. In contrast, the Páramo supply chain makes use of third party textile mills around the world, and it has always been challenging to know exactly which chemicals are applied to the fabrics we buy.

As a response to that challenge, we have now developed a methodology which allows us to ensure that PFC finishes are not used on our clothing. We do this through a combination of strict specification to our suppliers, rigorous testing for the presence of fluorine, and application of a Nikwax fabric finish which we know we can trust.

Our definition of PFC free

When we say that a Páramo product is PFC free, we mean that no PFCs have been used in its manufacture. However, PFCs are now so widely dispersed in the environment that even the water we drink from the tap has a small level of background pollution. This level of contamination cannot unfortunately be be avoided.

We ensure that third party textile suppliers are not using PFCs on our behalf by testing each batch of fabric we order. PFCs are a large family of different chemicals and testing for each one individually would not be possible. Instead we test the fabrics for the presence of fluorine, the defining element in all PFCs. If our testing shows that elemental fluorine is not present above a certain level, then we can be confident that a PFC treatment has not been applied.

Our current threshold limit for the presence of fluorine on fabric is 0.007% by mass. Any fabrics which do not pass this test are rejected and sent back to the supplier.

This methodology has been applied to all production since 2014, which means that an increasing proportion of stock in our warehouse is guaranteed to be free of PFC-treatment. Before long all new Páramo water-repellent products available will carry a guaranteed PFC treatment free label.

1 Grandjean, Phillipe, Elizabeth Wrefrord Anderson, Esben Budtz-Jorgensen, Flemming Nielsen, Kare Molbak, Pal Weihe, and Carsten Heilmann. "Serum Vaccine Antibody Concentrations in Children Exposed to Perfluorinated Compounds." The Journal of the American Medical Association 307 (2012): 391-97. (available online here)

2 Bonefeld-Jorgensen, Eva C., Manhai Long, Rossana Bossi, Pierre Ayotte, Gert Asmund, Tanja Kruger, Mandana Ghisari, Gert Mulvad, Peder Kern, Peter Nzulumiki, and Eric Dewailly. "Perfluorinated compounds are related to breast cancer risk in Greenlandic Inuit: A case control study." Environmental Health 10 (2011): 88. (available online here)

3 Fei, C., J. K. McLaughlin, L. Lipworth, and J. Olsen. "Maternal levels of perfluorinated chemicals and subfecundity." Human Reproduction 24 (2009): 1200-205. (available online here)

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