M&S and Oxfam push clothes recycling

Rosie Baker

Marks & Spencer is launching a fashion campaign in partnership with Oxfam that will encourage customers to recycle clothes in the hope of reducing the number of garments going to landfill.

M&S is asking customers to bring unwanted items of clothing to M&S when they buy a new garment at M&S. Donations from any brand, including M&S’s high street competitors, will be accepted and passed on to Oxfam to be reused, recycled or resold.

It is not known whether customers will be financially, or otherwise, rewarded for donations. M&S hopes that it can collect £350 million items of unwanted clothing - one for every new item it sells through the “ Shwopping” initiative.

The high street retailer is expanding its existing partnership with Oxfam in a bid to transform shopping habits and the way consumers recycle clothing.

Watch our video Q&A with M&S’s marketing director Steve Sharp at the launch of the campaign

Joanna Lumley will front a marketing campaign, including TV ads, and serve as M&S’s global eco and ethical ambassador. The initiative is part of its Plan A responsible business strategy.

The campaign will include a Facebook app designed to “socialize” ‘shwopping’ and a pop up ‘Shwop Lab’ in collaboration with London College of Fashion’s Centre For Sustainable Fashion in East London.

CEO Marc Bolland says: “We’re leading a change in the way we all shop for clothing, forever. this is the right, responsible move for the UK’s biggest clothing retailer and the ultimate goal is simple - to put a complete stop to clothes ending up in landfill.”

The ongoing campaign launches today (26 April) with a PR stunt in London’s Brick Lane that will see M&S cover the street, including benches and trees, in old clothes to demonstrate how many garments are sent to landfill every five minutes in the UK.

M&S wants to highlight the potential value of the one billion items of unwanted clothing thrown away each year for future uses such as loft insulation or reused materials.

M&S says it aims to “lead the crowd in transforming the way we shop for clothes, creating a “buy and give back” culture where old clothes are seen as a valuable commodity rather than a throwaway item”.

The M&S Oxfam One Day Wardrobe Clearout initiative won the retail category at last year’s Marketing Week Engage Awards. To see this year’s Engage Awards shortlist visit our awards page.

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