The consumption of textiles accounts for roughly 5% of the EU’s environmental footprint and apparel and footwear account for approximately 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.

Per year, EU citizens buy more than 12kgs of clothing each, the production of which contributed 195 million tonnes of CO2e to the atmosphere and used 46 billion cubic meters of water.

Its time to make a change!

25 billion gallons of water is required for a single years’ worth of global textile production. To give a tangible example, it takes up to 2,720 litres of water to produce enough cotton for just one single t-shirt. That is the equivalent to almost three years of drinking water. And it takes 200 gallons of water to make a single pair of jeans, the equivalent of approximately 285 showers.

Through the UN Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action, the Global Fashion Agenda and the G7 Fashion Pact, the sector has shown a strong commitment to pivot to a more sustainable and circular approach and aim to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

We need to change the way clothing and textiles are designed, produced, used and handled at the end-of-life stage. Reversing the trend of higher sales, lower utilisation of clothing, and a single-use attitude towards fashion will require a concerted effort, prompted by bold and new social innovations.

This challenge will reward the most innovative approaches to reduce the overall environmental footprint and improve the societal impact of the fashion market, help make it more accessible and fair, and aspire to change behaviors in a sustainable way. Solutions should clearly aim at delivering impact, pursue sustainability, and be scalable or replicable post-competition – at the local, national or European levels. 

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As part of its efforts to transform Europe’s economy into a more sustainable one, the European Commission has implemented a number of actions targeting textile, footwear and retail, such as: 

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We are looking for ideas from one or more of the fields listed below and we encourage solutions that address several of these areas through a systems perspective:

Solutions for sustainable use and consumption 

  • Change consumption patterns and behaviors regarding the linear use of ‘fast’ fashion. 
  • Extend the life cycle of fashion products.
  • Reduce the use and consumption of fashion and textiles through innovative business models in favour of reuse, upcycling and sharing. 
  • Make sustainable and fair fashion more broadly accessible. 
  • Stimulate socially inclusive processes throughout the fashion value chain. 

Solutions for sustainable production 

  • Net zero waste and climate neutral fashion and textiles production. 
  • Closed loop fashion and textiles systems. 
  • Sourcing of alternative, sustainable feedstock. 
  • Innovative techniques that build on traditional or local crafts for socially sustainable products. 
  • Innovations that reduce the environmental footprint of the fashion market.

Solutions for improving the end of life stage

  • Environmentally and socially respectful ways of recycling textiles, while maintaining their value. 
  • Reuse of textile by-products before they become waste.