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Change Makers: Zaqiya Cajee lets teens swap clothes, for both the looks and the environment

WONKedition's interview series Change Makers spotlights Gen Zers that are taking action to change the world.

August 2020
Meet the founder of SwopItUp:

Who are you?
I’m Zaqiya Cajee, a 17-year-old girl from London and I am the founder and CEO of SwopItUp.

What’s SwopItUp?
SwopItUp is a clothing exchange program that runs in schools. We also strive to educate young people around the impacts of fast fashion on the environment. I founded the initiative when I was 15 and I am now 17 and leading groups of volunteers to grow SwopItUp nationally.

Why did you start SwopItUp?
I started SwopItUp because I was tired of feeling like I couldn't make a massive impact in the fight against climate change. I could no longer sit back and hope someone else would do something to save my future, I had to act. I have always loved thrifting but it wasn't until a few years ago that I realized how much better for the environment it is instead of buying new. So I set out on a mission to educate people on the impacts of fast fashion on the environment. However, I also saw a gap in the market of preloved clothes for teenagers. There are plenty of swops and charity shops for adults and even for very young children. The only source of preloved clothes for teens are hand-me-downs from siblings or cousins but that leaves very little space to allow teens to experiment with style and personality. SwopItUp gives 11-18 year olds the chance to experiment with fashion for free whilst doing their bit for the environment.

Where do you see yourself and SwopItUp one year from now?
In a year I see SwopItUp being a national program in all schools. Giving students everywhere in the country the opportunity to swop their clothes and save them from going to landfill. As well as encouraging young people to learn skills from public speaking to up-cycling and everything in between. Students will have an awareness of how human behaviours and small actions can collectively have huge impacts on the environment."

Find out more about SwopItUp.

Other Change Makers:
- Kriti Sarav’s WhyFI Matter$ gives teens money skills
- Grace Maddrell takes action for young LGBTQ+ people and solo strikers
- Sameer Yasin started Green Kingdom to help people hurt by climate change
- Laura Muwanguzi gives hope to Uganda's children with sickle cell anemia
- Jacob Cramer’s Love for the Elderly embraces seniors across the world
- Oseriemen Atamewan is challenging all South Africans to plant trees
- Maria Raquel Thomas started a cosmetics business to solve everyday problems
- Ananya Kamboj is a teenage changing the world through sports

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