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Local communities are making second-hand school uniform their first choice in Leeds

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Zero Waste Leeds has launched a Uniform Reuse campaign to make school uniform reuse the norm in Leeds.

The project, funded by Leeds City Council and Leeds Community Foundation’s Jimbo’s Fund, aims to encourage more families to reuse and donate school uniform. In the last two months alone, over 80 new exchange schemes have been set up by local parents and local councillors, as well as schools and community groups.

School Uniform reuse helps to protect the environment by reducing the amount of uniforms sent to waste. It also helps parents by reducing the cost of buying new uniform, and it is tackling any stigma associated with second-hand clothing through making excellent quality uniform available to parents across Leeds, often for free.

Zero Waste Leeds aims to make it as easy as possible for people to learn more about uniform reuse. A map of all known schemes is available online, alongside an inspiration guide offering help and advice on how to set up a new scheme and contribute to the campaign. The School Uniform Exchange Facebook page is also available to join for more tips and guidance www.zerowasteleeds.org.uk

Councillor Fiona Venner, Leeds City Council’s executive member for children and families said:

“This campaign has made incredible progress since it started two months ago and it shows how important it is for local communities to establish the re-use and recycling of school uniforms as a norm.

“This project manages to address two main issues; the cost of new uniforms and protecting the environment. It is a vital campaign for providing high quality uniforms to vulnerable families and to help them save money, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, but it’s also significant for protecting the environment by encouraging people to re-use the uniforms and not let them end up in waste bins.

“Even though this has been happening organically and gradually across Leeds for many years, the involvement of the parents, schools, and communities in this co-ordinated project is definitely visible and brings many benefits to our city.”

Councillor Debra Coupar, Leeds City Council’s executive member for communities said:

“We recognise that there has been a severe impact financially for families in Leeds; firstly by austerity and more recently by COVID-19. It is a fact that more families are having to claim benefits during these difficult times.

“I am delighted that we have a uniform exchange scheme that will not only save money for these families, but is also helpful to the environment by recycling perfectly good school clothing.”

Gill Coupland, one of the founders of Zero Waste Leeds said:

“Here at Zero Waste Leeds, it’s our job to put a spotlight on the issue of school uniform reuse and start the conversation across the city. At the same time we’re showing people how they can help and be part of the solution.  We have now mapped over 80 schemes across the city which provide school uniform reuse opportunities for 190 schools.

“Our inspiration guide is packed with practical advice and live examples of existing schemes and we have networked people across the city through Leeds School Uniform Exchange on Facebook which now has over 1,000 members. We’re making second hand the genuine first choice for Leeds when it comes to school uniform; reducing both the cost to local families and the carbon footprint of our city.”

  • Map of school uniform re-use opportunities – the map shows all known uniform reuse schemes in Leeds and is available online to every parent in Leeds. It can also be used by organisations/workers such as Third Sector or social workers for the purpose of signposting families: www.google.com
  • Inspiration guide – this guide book will provide every uniform re-use scheme advice and information on how to run a successful, accessible, engaged uniform re-use service. Every school will be provided guidance on how to promote school uniform re-use. This will include how to engage and begin conversations to encourage informal re-use where there is no capacity to set up a formal scheme: www.canva.com
  • School Uniform Exchange Facebook Page -Share uniform available or needed, as well as best practices, ideas and experiences through an online network of individuals and exchange groups: www.facebook.com

Zero Waste Leeds is a project of Social Business Brokers CIC a social enterprise that has been working for over ten years on creative, collaborative approaches to tackling social and environmental problems in Leeds.

The goal of Zero Waste Leeds is to build a mass movement to make Leeds a zero waste city by 2030. Zero Waste Leeds’ other projects include #LeedsbyExample on-the-go-recycling, Plastic Pioneers and Zero Waste Fashion.

Facts and figures:

  • £6.4m total cost of new school uniform this year in Leeds for all new starters at primary and secondary school
  • 163,000kg of CO2 could be saved if every new starter in primary and secondary school in
  • 2,700 litres of water needed to make just one cotton T shirt
  • 70m barrels of oil are needed to make the polyester in our clothes every year
  • The average cost of school uniform in 2020 is estimated to be £348.55 per child.

Leeds City Council is committed to making Leeds carbon neutral by 2030. To find out more about how we are tackling climate change, visit www.leeds.gov.uk

Source Leeds City Council