You find a product that works for you and you stick with it, because why would you want to try a different brand when the one you use works? And therein lies the problem for brands like Storm. They're not a new brand, having been around since 2005, but I'm sure they'll accept that they don't have the universal recognition of the big two in the UK Nikwax and Grangers. Being honest, I'm no different from anyone else; I've got a well known brand that I've used for years and use it by default. I've had countless emails from the PR and marketers at Storm, but I've never really seen an incentive to switch.
What persuaded me to give Strom a go is quite simple - they've launched a range that have abandoned the ubiquitous plastic bottles and pouches in favour of aluminium bottles. Recently National Geographic stated that over 91% of discarded plastic is not recycled. Aluminium is 8 times more likely to be recycled. Recycled aluminium uses 95% less energy than production from raw materials while saving 97% of greenhouse gas emissions. As the outdoor industry is increasingly looking at product longevity and repairability as the next marketing battleground the sale and use of consumer cleaning products is only going to increase and the eco-credentials of these products is increasingly important.
Cleaning and proofing products have undergone many changes over the last 20 years, from reformulating to remove damaging chemicals to more environmentally DWR proffing and reactivating. Storm, for example, claim a range of products that are free from pollutants, certain plastic compounds and chemicals such as PFC, PFOA and PFOS. The eco-friendly Storm Care range Care is also the only brand within the outdoor aftercare industry offering a true wash and clean process in a single wash cycle.
You get two bottles with the Eco Friendly Apparel Care Kit, a technical wash and a proofer, together with a measuring cup. The bottles at 225ml wil give you 3 full washes using 75ml of each solution. Note that the dosage cup is not a single measure! The instructions are simple: WASH; Shake bottle and pour 75ml into detergent compartment. PROOF; Shake bottle, pour 75ml into conditioner compartment, wash following garment manufacturer’s guidelines. Allow to drip dry then finish drying with a tumble dry for around 20 minutes or until fully dry.
To put Storm Care to the test I selected what's best described as an "over-loved" Keela jacket that's been a default daily coat for at least 5 years and was well overdue a good clean. The DWR was no longer functional, with parts of the sleeves regularly wetting out, and there more than a few signs of use from food stains to memories of assorted mud splatters.
Before commencing the wash and proof it's important you start off with a clean dispenser as standard detergents can prevent the process working properly. Then it's simply a matter of following the instructons - the clear, watery, wash solution in the main dispenser and the white, milky, proof solution in the conditioner compartment and off you go.
In short it worked well. The oily sheen the fabric had aquired from literally hundreds of wears was gone, the mud/food/grass stains were gone. I've yet to get the chance to test it in a decent rainfall but spray tests have shown positive beading. The results, so far, appear to be on a par with the 2 stage, 2 wash, solutions I've previously tried; given that products are either water repllent or not and clean or not. It's impossible to say it removes a stain better than Nikwax or Grangers and impossible to say it restores water repellency better than the alternatives.
What you get then is a product that does the same as all the others and appears to do it just as well. The USP is the "eco-friendly" side of the product. It achieves comparable results in a single wash, rather than seperate cleaning and proofing, and uses containers that are 8 times more likely to be recycled that plastic bottles and pouches. It's an environmental argument for using the brand and it's obvious that the marketing department have seen the trend and responded. The bottles look more like a flashy energy drink than a clothes washing liquid, and the energy savings and recyclability are well highlighted.
It's refreshing to see a brand taking notice that even 50% recycled bottles that are all the rage at the moment are still 50% non-recycled plastic and are less likely to be recycled than aluminium. It's still not perfect though; customers will still be buying single use containers with every purchase. What would be a real sea change would be to have customers bringing their bottles back with them to a shop and having them refilled from a bulk container.
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