As part of our #LeedsFashionFutures project, we were joined recently on our Facebook page by Dr Mark Sumner, a lecturer at the School of Design at the University of Leeds who specialises in sustainability, clothing and textiles.

Gill from Zero Waste Leeds and local TV and Radio Presenter Peg Alexander explored with Mark a whole range of issues in relation to sustainability, clothing and fashion.

There are so many factors at play - including the materials our clothing is made from, water consumption for growing raw materials, water pollution from the dyeing process, and the working conditions for the people who make our clothes - with many, of course, living in the Global South. The clothing industry can be a vital source of income for people and for countries as a whole - but it can also be responsible for poor working conditions and low wages.

And then we need to consider the environmental impacts of the choices we make.

Whether we decide to buy more clothes in the first place. How often we wear them. How often we wash them - and at what temperatures. Whether we attempt to extend their life - by making small repairs. And what we do when we no longer need them - do we throw them away? Or share them - or give them away?

Gill, Peg and Mark explored all of these issues - alongside other key issues - such as how our clothing choices can be very much part of who we are, and how we express ourselves - particularly when we're younger. As Mark suggests,

"Clothing is perhaps the most powerful non-verbal communication device that we have."

These are all themes that we're exploring throughout our #LeedsFashionFutures project - keep an eye out for more on Zero Waste Leeds social media, and on our Leeds Fashion Futures Facebook group.