Nilmore Clothing at CEE Climate Community Lab: Sustainable, climate-friendly and fossil-free fashion for a better future
Nilmore is one of the winners of this year’s edition of CEE Climate Community Lab, alongside The Civil Affairs Institute from Poland and Valea Jiului Society from Romania. They are based in the Czech Republic and aim to make the coal regions in their country more attractive for the people living there so they don’t have to move out in search of work and leisure opportunities. We have talked to them about their experience with the project but also about their brand, the project they have developed during IdeaLab, its mission, and the way they see the future in the local coal regions.
For those who don’t know you: tell us a bit about yourselves and your team. What circumstances brought you together and how did your activity evolve from your early days until today?
Nilmore® is the world’s first circular clothing brand. We make textile circular and sustainable to give people an opportunity to wear sustainably. It was founded by Mikulas Hurta, a fashion revolutionist and pioneer of circular fashion, in 2018. We spent 2 years researching and developing and innovative circular materials and their recycling. We have developed a new clothing fabric called cPLA (circular polylactide) and brought it to the market in 2021. In this year we won a couple of prizes in various competitions, such as 1st place in S Brand 2021 for the most sustainable brand, 1st place in Green Light 2021, 1st place in The most sustainable start-up of 2021, and 1st place in Startup Voucher 2021.
In the next year, we will introduce other fully circular materials and expand our portfolio. Currently, we are a team of 10 people who came from different fields (industrial management, clothing technology, marketing, …). We are connected by one common goal – to make a positive change in the textile industry which is one of the biggest polluters in the world.
What is the current situation in your region and why did you take an interest in programs related to the Just Transition Mechanism?
The region is impacted by coal mining and is quite unattractive to live in due to air pollution, environmental conditions, and a bad situation in the labor market. There are a lot of people who lost jobs once coal mines were closed, and their work transition is very difficult. There is also a lack of perspective in terms of job opportunities which forces inhabitants to move for work, studies, and leisure to other regions. We are interested in a positive transition of our region because it is the place we were born, and we would like to stop the outflow of population and support its attractiveness for people.
Tell us a bit about your experience with CEE Climate Community Lab. Where did you learn about the project from? How did you find the activities that you have been involved in?
We are mostly interested in the capacity-building training in Futures Literacy concerning the coal regions and the IdeaLab competition. We were contacted by representatives of Impact Hub who visited us and introduced the project to us. We told them about our view on the regional situation and outlined our visions on how to improve it. Then, we were invited to the online sessions where we worked on concrete ways to help the region. It involved very interactive calls connecting wonderful people from different regions which deal with similar issues.
What have been the most valuable lessons from your participation in CEE Climate Community Lab?
The most valuable lessons or let’s say pieces of information were all the opinions and points of view mentioned by colleagues from other countries. It was nice to hear about the status of their regions and find out they fight with very similar problems as our region does. Based on this, we found the topics we need to solve. From a practical point of view, the most valuable lesson was the last one where we built a concrete framework of the project and agreed on the way to work on it. Furthermore, we created a couple of synergies that will allow us to implement our circular textiles as a part of the bigger solution to the transformation and environmental problems.
Can you please describe for us the winning solution? What does it imply?
Project OpenMind connects teams from various regions. Each team will build a community of people and organizations interested in the improvement of their region. It will be done via educative sessions, workshops, discussions, and events where we will talk about environmental problems, transition opportunities, ideas for improvements, etc. The region is very conventional, so it is very important to thoroughly listen to people’s opinions and work together. We will build a co-working space that will provide a base for project activities. We would like to make connections between the public, employers, universities, local authorities, and other organizations to spread and make further steps towards our goal: to make this region more attractive so that people do not have to move to other regions or countries.
What could be the greatest opportunities for the implementation of the solution? What about the potential roadblocks?
There are already efforts from authorities and other organizations to make this region a place to work, relax and live in. For example, we also cooperate with the POHO2030 project focusing on the development of Pohornicka krajina. In recent years, the environmental and regional development topics have gotten more and more popular and some initiatives with similar focus already exist, which creates continuous support which can make this region really likable and that should also set an example for other cities, regions, etc. For a long time, we were not paying as much attention to our environment as we should and projects like OpenMind will help us improve this aspect.
In terms of potential roadblocks, we could be talking about the current attitude and the conventional way of thinking of the people living in this area. Many of them have already doomed the idea of better environment, life and/or comfort in this region. So it will take some time to start the discussions and create an open-minded environment to make our discussions productive. During our work on the OpenMind project, we agreed that we do not want to be “dictators” who will set some roadmap for transformation and improvement of the region but we would like to talk and collaborate with the citizens and all the stakeholders in the region to make it as smooth and pleasant as possible.
Finally: what are the project’s strongest points / greatest advantages? Would you recommend the experience to other organizations from the civil society?
We see a very strong point in the international base and the experienced project team. Moreover, the project involves people and organizations with great skills in the environmental and regional transition area. The timing of the project is spot on as well, as its topics are highly actual. The effort to make a positive regional change is a very important activity for all regional subjects as it benefits everybody by creating better conditions and a better world.
Nilmore® makes the clothes they sell circular and sustainable thanks to the new and innovative cPLA material gained from renewable resources, which is zero waste, climate-friendly, and fossil-free.
The cPLA material is 100 % recyclable and its carbon footprint is 86 % lower in
comparison to polyester and the water footprint it creates is 98 % lower in comparison to cotton. Once the products are worn out they can be returned via Nilmore® Circular System and then fully recycled to new products, again and again. This means that you can create and buy new products without ever having to use new resources.
Climate Community Lab was created in 2020 as an initiative of EIT Climate-KIC. Its main purpose is to connect private citizens and various organizations from Central and Eastern Europe who are interested in climate action. In 2021, EIT Climate-KIC alongside a team of partner universities and communities – 4CF, The University of Warsaw, Impact Hub Prague, and Impact Hub Bucharest have focused on ideas meant to support the transition of coal regions towards a sustainable future.
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