UK retailer Marks & Spencer has commenced a new 'Shwopping' campaign to support Oxfam and help reduce clothing waste being sent to landfill. Marks & Spencer is inviting shoppers to become shwoppers by donating unwanted clothing each time they buy new items.
Clothes donated through the shwopping campaign will go to Oxfam to be sold on or recycled to help the poor. It is hoped that 350 million items of clothing will be given each year. None will go into landfill.
The innovative campaign is being backed by actress Joanna Lumley, the global ambassador for Marks and Spencer's (M&S) Plan A, which is designed to position M&S as the world's most eco-friendly retail chain.
Joanna Lumley said: We're asking people to open their hearts, their minds and their wardrobes. Remember we used to just throw away plastic bottles. Now we recycle them without even thinking about it. We need to do the same with clothing. Bring in something old; buy something new. Swap and shop. It's that simple."
Shoppers wanting to take part in the scheme will be able to donate any brand of unwanted clothing. They simply deposit the items in Shwop Drop cardboard boxes that will be by tills in M&S branches across the UK. Each shop will have at least two drop-off points. M&S Simply Food shops are not included.
Those donating can register details about the shwop by text and enter a monthly draw or can do so through the M&S Facebook page.
The donated clothes that are unsold will go to needy people around the globe - lighter clothing to Africa, warmer clothes to Eastern Europe - or will be recycled into new clothing or furniture fabrics.
The shwopping scheme was officially launched by Joanna Lumley, who is fronting the campaign advertising, and Marc Bolland, CEO of M&S in Dray Walk, East London, filled with 9,500 discarded clothes to represent the number that go into landfill every five minutes.
Each year, one billion pieces of clothing end up in landfill - a quarter of all items sold.
It is hoped that 'Shwopping' will encourage UK shoppers to adopt a new 'buy one, give one' attitude.
Mr Bolland says the store is pioneering a permanent change in the way people shop.
Chief Executive of Oxfam, Barbara Stocking, says the campaign will help raise millions of pounds for the charity and will help them transform poor people's lives.
M&S previously worked with the charity in 2008 on the Oxfam Clothes Exchange when customers received a £5 vouched in exchange for clothes donations. The scheme, which has so far seen 10million items of clothing donated, will continue.
In conjunction with the shwopping launch, the Centre For Sustainable Fashion at the London College of Fashion is opening a Shwop Lab until 9 May at the Old Truman Brewery, Brick Lane, East London.
The pop-up area examines the future of fashion through links between leading UK players in sustainable design and fashion.