Record Numbers Swap Clothes as Part of M&S and Oxfam’s Latest Shwopping Event

joanna-shwopping

Swishing/swapping parties have taken off big time over the last couple of years. Giving the opportunity for people to swap clothes that they don’t wear for clothes that they do is a fab idea. It’s sustainable and quite often totally free (although some parties might charge an entry fee, often donated to charity). What’s more, if you took part in one of the recent Shwopping events by Marks and Spencer’s and Oxfam, you will have received a £5 M&S voucher, amazing!

The One Day Wardrobe Clear Out was held on Thursday 9th May and asked customers to help ease the landfill burden by bringing their unwanted clothes into M&S to swap for pieces donated by other customers. 435,000 used and unwanted items were shwopped over 12 hours – the equivalent of 604 items a minute.

The event, as part of M&S and Oxfam’s sustainable fashion initiative Shwopping, will see every item left donated go on to be re-sold or recycled by the charity, cutting waste and raising much-needed funds in its fight against global poverty. The record number of items shwopped will raise an estimated £504,600 for Oxfam.

Adam Elman, Head of Marks & Spencer’s Plan A Delivery, said:
“It’s amazing to see so many people taking part and shwopping their clothes to support Oxfam. 435,000 clothes donated is a fantastic achievement; this is by far the most successful clothes-recycling event we have ever had! It doesn’t stop here, with over 1 billion items sent to landfill each year in the UK, we hope that customers will continue to adopt a ‘buy one, give one back’ culture when they shop and help us to build a more sustainable future.”

Since its launch in April last year, Oxfam has received over 4.3 million items of clothing thanks to Shwopping, worth over £2.8 million for the charity. All money raised by Shwopping, fronted by Joanna Lumley, is used to support Oxfam’s projects around the world. Don’t forget to check out the Oxfam Fashion blog and remember you can shop for Oxfam pieces online.

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Donating Clothes to Charity has never been Easier

It has literally never been easier to donate unwanted clothes and accessories to charity. As well as the parade of charity shops on our local high street, there are donation banks at the supermarket, car parks and workplaces and well-known names are starting to take donations into their stores too.

This year’s ‘Give Up Clothes for Good’ campaign for example ran from 1st-30th April 2012 and asked people to drop off their unwanted quality clothing, accessories and homeware at their local TK Maxx store. All the stock was then sold in Cancer Research UK shops, raising an incredible total of £3.1 million for research into children’s cancers. Since 2004 the TKMaxx/Cancer Research partnership has raised over £13 million.

H&M did something similar stateside, but the story to gain most recent press attention is that of shwopping at M&S. M&S have put a huge amount of resources into a TV and print campaign with Joanna Lumley to advertise their shwopping scheme which is described on a press release as follows:

“All M&S clothing stores will now accept unwanted clothing of any brand, all year round. It’s a new, free service for customers aimed at creating a new ‘buy one, give one’ culture on the UK high street. Through Oxfam, the clothes will be resold, reused or recycled and the money raised will go to help people living in poverty. Not a single item will go to landfill and the ultimate aim for M&S is to recycle as many clothes as it sells – 350 million a year.”

I have no doubt that this is great PR for Oxfam, and for M&S for that matter, but I see publicity as the main outcome of this scheme. Who is going to traipse around town with a bag of unwanted clothing to drop off at M&S (which is big and busy and will probably require queuing) when the nearest charity shop is at the end of the street? And will M&S employees have a clue what to do with the items when they receive them? Perhaps TKMaxx is a good example that they will and I am being far too sceptical.

Any encouragement to develop a more robust second-hand culture where it is the norm to donate and reuse rather than throw away is clearly beneficial.

So how do customers shwop?

In stores, M&S customers will be invited to leave their old or unwanted clothes in specially designed ‘Shwop Drops’ (cardboard recycling boxes). There will be over 1,200 Shwop Drops across the UK (at least two per store) alongside till points. If customers would like to register their shwop they can follow the instructions on the box to text and enter into a monthly prize draw.

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