Climate change blog: SwopItUp

Zaqiya - founder and CEO of SwopItUp

What do you do?

I am the founder and CEO of an environmental initiative which essentially is a clothing exchange run in schools all about promoting youth action against climate change.

How long have you been running SwopItUp for?

We had our first pilot event about a year ago, but it's been in the works since summer 2018.

What made you want to start it?

I’ve seen that there’s a big need for youth action on climate change, lots of people say it’s the adults that need to do something about it, but at the same time it starts with your own personal actions. It started when I was on holiday and there was a market where to get clothes really cheaply which all second-hand and they were nice and unique and I just want to be able to spread this to my peers and the goal is for it to become a national programme so that everyone has this opportunity to reduce their own carbon footprint.

What's the best thing about SwopItUp?

I would say the uniqueness of all the clothes because you get so many different clothes coming in that when you find something that fits you well and is your style you know you meant to have it, you also know that you're not going to see anyone else wearing it and it's unique to yourself and that's what I like about also pre-loved clothes in general.

How can people can get involved?

We've got a website where anyone can sign up and try and get their school involved. But people getting involved in anything climate-related is great. Find other people who are also interested to come up with ideas and you can cross-compare, the more information sharing on climate change, the better.

Where do you see SwopItUp going?

I can see it becoming a national programme within schools, but I would also like to see it go international and so it’s always part of school’s curriculum. I’d like to see every student getting involved. It might start with clothes, but we can also use SwopItUp for other things like forward to other things like reducing your plastic and food waste.

Any comments on the fashion industry?

I would like to see fewer weekly trends that suggest that we need to constantly be buying new clothes. It’s pressuring people to buy so much, it’s not good for your wallet or the environment and creates an incredible amount of pollution. 40% of girls think they must wear something new every time they go out, and social media plays a huge role in that.  

What do you think would be the best way to combat that pressure?

Treat yourself every so often but buy pre-loved where you can. Following lots of fashion and influencer pages is just going to keep putting pressure on you to think that you need to keep buying more clothes. We don’t need to be wearing different clothes to school every day. Also, to not go over there 1.5 degrees Celsius warming, people would have to only buy an average of 9 pieces of clothing each year each year and to stay well below that it would only be 3 pieces each year, it’s all about quality of quantity. SwopItUp keeps clothes in circulation instead of constantly adding new ones to the mix.

Follow Zaqiya on social media @zaqiyacajee for more tips and ideas on how you can be more sustainable.