During COP26, we launched #ZeroWasteClothing to explore the climate impacts of clothing and what we can all do to help slow down fast fashion.

This includes using our collective voices to influence change where it matters.

The campaign was built around insights we gathered during our six month Leeds Fashion Futures project run in collaboration with The RSA, as part of their Regenerative Futures work. We also used the sustainable fashion expertise on our doorstep at the University of Leeds School of Design.

#Zerowasteclothing campaign

Over the two weeks of our campaign we heard from local people through a series of Facebook and Instagram lunchtime live chats.

We spoke to students from Leeds University Fashion Soc (pictured below), social media fashion influencers, a Leeds-based academic who spent 15 years working in retail for major international brands and now focuses on sustainability within the fashion industry, people who work in the city's thriving secondhand clothing scene and a TV/radio presenter who chooses to wear secondhand clothing on air and off.

Here are some of the highlights from our campaign.

Climate impacts of clothing

We were delighted to speak to Dr Mark Sumner who is a leading academic in the field of sustainable fashion. He recently published an essay for the UK Government's All Party Parliamentary Climate Change Group highlighting key challenges that the clothing industry will need to confront to get to net-zero emissions.

This pie-chart summarises where clothing-related climate emissions come from. We were surprised to see that how we care for our clothes - washing, drying and ironing - accounts for 20% of the industry's emissions. Given the fashion industry is responsible for around 8-10% of global emissions, that is really significant.

We spoke to Mark about some of the most impactful things we can all to do help slow down fast fashion. You can listen to our interview with him below.


Following the research on the environmental impact of clothing, we decided to focus on the following four themes:

Take better care of your clothes

This was high on our list because making just a few small changes to how we care for our clothes can make a big difference to their overall environmental impact. Our best tips to take better care of your clothes are:

  1. Wash your clothes less
  2. Only wash at low temperatures
  3. Check your garment labels
  4. Hang your clothes out to dry

Read our blogpost for more tips.


Next big impact action we can take is to to Buy Better and by that we don't mean buying more expensive clothes!

We share our tips for buying better in our blogpost here and ways you can do that easily in Leeds. They are:

  1. Do a wardrobe audit before buying any more new clothes
  2. Swap or donate clothes that you no longer wear
  3. Do the 'will I wear it 30 times test?'
  4. Buy secondhand/vintage
  5. Check the brand.

At the start of our campaign, Rob from Zero Waste Leeds did a wardrobe audit to see how many clothes he owned. You can find out how we got on - and the changes he made following the audit, here.

Zero Waste Clothing Map

To make it even easier to make sustainable fashion choices in Leeds we updated our #ZeroWasteClothing map adding new categories like vintage shops, clothes exchanges, dress agencies and a list of sustainable fashion designers.

We also had the opportunity to discuss the importance of choosing second hand over buying new through Facebook and Instagram Lives.

We spoke to June from The Leeds Jewish Welfare Board shop and Lauren from Leeds Community Clothes Exchange to discuss the wonderful world of pre-loved shopping and the many options available to the people of Leeds.

We also hosted our very first Instagram Live to explore how we can switch to more sustainable alternatives with Leeds Fashion Society from the University of Leeds. We met content creator and fashion advocate Gaia Rattazzi, fashion design student and sustainability architect Aerielle Rojas and sustainability and fashion enthusiast Mano Mori.


As part of our #ZeroWasteClothing campaign we shared information on how we are making great second hand school uniform the first choice for families in Leeds. During the campaign we published our latest Impact report showing all that's been achieved since we launched the project last year.

Tracy and Gill from Zero Waste Leeds ran a  lunchtime Facebook Live to discuss the Uniform Exchange Project with Jenny from Fresh Start Community Project Morley, organiser of the most successful uniform exchange in the city.


Around 30% of clothes in UK wardrobes has not been worn for at least a year whilst we buy on average 13 items of new clothing every month! One good way to slow down our fast fashion habits is to value the clothes we have and wear them for longer.

There are many ways to extend the life of our clothes and make sure we wear them for a longer period of time including:

  1. Do the "Will I wear it 30 times?" test
  2. Organise your wardrobe so that you can make the most of what you already own
  3. Repair/Upcycle your clothes

Read more about our top tips here.


Last but definitely not least, we've been sharing ways that we can all use our voice to influence change. That means asking the brands that you buy from what they're doing to reduce their impact on the planet, emailing your local MP or the government body influencing decisions around the environmental impact of the fashion industry. It's so important to talk to your friends and colleagues about any changes you're making and why too. See our full list of impactful actions here.

We had the opportunity to discuss this in more detail with journalist and TV, Radio and Podcast presenter Peg Alexander during another Instagram Live.

We asked Peg about her pledge to stop buying new new clothes and how she uses her influence as a public eye figure to raise awareness on sustainable fashion.

It has been a great campaign and one that has helped us engage with different audiences across the city. Thank you to everyone that made it possible!