The “Beyond Your Clothes” campaign, part of the Smart Textile & Garments project, is a Pan-European crusade aiming to raise awareness on the environmental consequences of the fast fashion industry and its social impact. The new initiative was funded by the European Commission and implemented by Sequa GmbH, a globally operating non-profit development organization. Other partners of the project are Greenpeace, River Blue Documentary and DG International, a logistic company.
The campaign, launched on May 3, 2021, will run until the end of June and is supported by a guerilla activation and a social media presence. With text and studies provided by Greenpeace, ILO (International Labor Organization), and UNICEF the “Beyond Your Clothes” campaign also includes website technology (www.beyondyourclothes.com) and provides, in an interactive and ludic approach, different layers of information to a wide audience with varying levels of awareness on the impact of their consumption, and aims to transform them into more conscious and empowered consumers.
Photo: Beyond Your Clothes
Recycling image of the Beyond Your Clothes campaign
According to studies released within the campaign, worldwide clothes consumption has increased by 60% in only 15 years and is set to exponentially rise. Meanwhile, with Covid-19, an unprecedented level of unsold garments are burnt or destined for landfills. As a result, some countries are now submerged by this growing issue and are considering exporting to stop the accumulation of textile waste.
Consuming habits have massively evolved recently, with brands creating up to 52 different collections per year compared to just two seasons a few decades ago. The fashion and textile industry produces two billion T-shirts per year, and one single cotton T-shirt can require 2,700 liters of water, the equivalent of 900 days of drinking water for a single person. In the same direction, in 2017, textile purchases in the EU generated about 654 kg of CO2 emissions per person according to the European Environment Agency (EEA).
Furthermore, the ILO estimates that 170 million are engaged in child labor, with many kids employed in the textiles and garments production chains to satisfy the increasing demand.
Photo: Beyond Your Clothes
Beyond Your Clothes campaign image
The EU’s Strategy for Sustainable Textiles connected to the campaign aims to reduce the impact of fast fashion on the environment, adopting a new Circular Economy Action Plan. It includes the EU’s new comprehensive Strategy for Textiles with proposals to put in place a new sustainable framework, alongside developing eco-design measures to ensure that textile products are fit for circularity, as well as establishing the uptake of secondary raw materials, tackling the presence of hazardous chemicals, and empowering business and private consumers to choose sustainable textiles and get easy access to reuse services.
Additionally, the EU aspires to achieve high levels of separate textile waste collection by 2025. The “Strategy for Textiles” part of a wider approach called the “European Green Deal,” which identifies textiles as a priority sector for the EU to pave its way towards a carbon-neutral and circular economy.
Sabine Erez, Sequa’s project director, commented about the initiative.
Sabine Erez, project director, Sequa
What are the aims of this campaign?
The main aim of the campaign in to increase the knowledge and awareness of European consumers on sustainable fashion and on sustainable purchasing practices. Also, we wanted this campaign to resonate with a young audience who might not be aware of their clothes’ consumption environmental impact. This is how we came with this idea of building “The Beyond Your Clothes” campaign, which has been built like a “behind the scenes” journey.
What actual results do you expect to get from it?
The target is to reach two million European consumers’ attention between 18 and 55 years of age, to raise their awareness on the social and environment impact of their fashion consumption and to give them some ideas on how to change their purchase behavior.
Which are the major actors of change you expect will react and start taking action after this campaign?
We assume that the sustainably active consumers will be the first to take action and advocate for the campaign.
How will the campaign develop, and how long will it last?
The campaign has been built of a first organic phase in April in order to identify PR and influencers activities and starting the social media and online display paid activation on May 3. The campaign will last until the end of June. The website will still available on the long term.