Today COSH! is launching and demonstrating its new (bèta) fashion retail tool at Circular Textile Days in 's-Hertogenbosch. COSH! is an online platform guiding consumers to local sustainable clothing shops and helping cities transform their retail scene into a circular one.

Niki de Schryver, founder and CEO of COSH!, is excited to announce we’ve developed a tool where actual deeds and actions speak louder than words. “Where simplicity and holistic thinking is rewarded.”

What is that innovative tool? COSH! was one of 15 European startups that joined the European DigiCirc BioEconomy accelerator. During the 3-month fast track program, they created the COSH! store index following the principles of ‘Earth Logic. The resulting retail sustainability self-assessment tool won a €120.000 euro grant in the finals of the EU Digicirc Award in Paris.

Data extracted on brand-level

The self-assessment retail scoring tool was built using the 800 brands COSH! has screened over the past few years and thanks to this large volume of data, the tool has become very accurate. The goal of the tool? The tool is a way for retailers to visualize their own progress, and help them see which brands they should replace with more fair and circular brands in order to increase their score. It's the next step in COSH!'s mission to make circular and slavery-free products mainstream.

The retail tool has been tested at the store-level in fashion capital Antwerp and in Bruges.

Looking beyond the existing datasets

Yes, the industry's Higg Index already exists to assess the sustainability of certain textile fibres, but it only focuses on fibres and information like water use and soil eutrophication in the phase where the fibre is transformed into undyed yarn.

COSH!'s index strives to go beyond that by including social factors and circular opportunities for fibres in the end-of-life phase. Why, you might ask? Because the end-of-life phase influences the recycling potential of fibres and textiles, as well as the likelihood that the garment will end up in landfill. Not to mention the planetary damage this would cause, depending on its biodegradability. COSH!’s tool also has a wider scope as it’s positioned at the brand and store level, instead of the fabric level.

What does the COSH! index base its score on?

The COSH! brand scoring system assesses a wider range of factors, looking at the raw fibres and the different dyeing techniques used, as well as most of the certifications obtained for the fibres, textiles and producers that the brand uses. Based on that assessment, brands are awarded appropriate scores. COSH! then calculates a retailer’s score by computing the sum of the scores of the brands it stocks.

Following the ‘earth logic’ theory, which is a holistic approach that emphasizes the correlation between the environmental, social and economic dimensions of sustainability, we also take into account the potential harm that materials used by brands present to actors like local communities and animal lives. For example, by assessing whether materials are 100% free of animal-derived products and if they would be suitable for vegetarians.

We do consider, however, that using animal-based materials can also have positive side-effects. Using alpaca wool, for instance, helps support the cultural heritage of indigenous communities, other small-scale farmers or herding communities, and presents more recyclability options in the end-of-life phase of the final products.

The brand assessment explained above is a key building block to create a reliable store index.

The COSH! store index targets areas that retailers can impact themselves: the sum of the brands they stock, the packaging they use in-store and for online orders, and the energy sources and suppliers they use. As the Energy Performance Score (EPC) score of the buildings they rent is not something they can impact, we are leaving this out of the equation.

How does COSH! ensure its data is trustworthy?

Scientific impact measurement implies by definition uncertainties on the impact data. For example, the uncertainty on national GHG inventories is approximately 20%, according to Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. The data sources are thus not 100% reliable, but they are good enough to move forward and make a positive impact. The cost of doing nothing and waiting for perfection is much higher. COSH! firmly believes in taking positive action, while we wait for perfect data. We have built and are building tools that either connect to existing product transparency tools or will connect to future Product Environmental Footprint calculators. Our focus remains on monitoring and progressing retailers in cities as they are the heart of our communities.

Coming to a standstill due to potentially incorrect data and information? That's just losing precious time instead of making conscious shopping choices. COSH! is here to accelerate the shift to a slavery-free and circular economy.

The launch

We are happy to bèta launch the store self-screening tool at the Circular Textile Days and gather feedback from the most critical experts in the field. We are also looking for cities to collaborate with on our first full city retail scan.

Come and meet us at 1931 Congress Centre, 's-Hertogenbosch on the 13th & 14th of September! Retailers already interested in testing the tool can contact COSH! via [email protected]

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