By now most of you would have seen the advert for ‘Shwopping’, headed up by the fabulous Joanna Lumley. So if you are in any doubt as to what shwopping is all about, we are here to let you know. Shwopping is a great new way to recycle clothes by bringing an old item of clothing into an M&S store (it doesn’t have to be brought from M&S) each time you come to buy something new. You’ll find a ‘Shwop Drop’ box (by the tills in most stores) where you can put the old clothes in. Once the boxes are full, all the clothing then goes to Oxfam to be resorted where they either resell it in one of their stores or on their website, forward it on to those who need it in the Third World, or recycle the fibres to make new material (which businesses like M&S can make into new clothes). The best bit is that absolutely nothing goes to landfill. Oxfam will use the money raised to help people around the world overcome poverty.
All M&S clothing stores are participating in this scheme, including M&S Outlets but not the Simply Food stores and we’ve heard that Shwopping is now a permanent fixture in the stores, so any time your local store is open, you can go shwopping!
And this is what happens to the clothes that you bring in:
- Resells clothes – in shops, online, at festivals or through overseas enterprises, like Frip Ethique in Senegal.
- Reuses clothes – garments that can’t be worn again are sold to designers who restyle them for use in new collections.
- Recycles clothes – even if they don’t make the grade, old clothes are never sent to landfill. Instead, they’re sold in bulk to reprocessing companies where they could be reborn as mattress filling, carpet underlay or as a last resort, incinerated. Some of the garments will even be turned in to new fibres for use in new garments.
- Not a stitch is wasted – every penny raised helps fight poverty around the world.
If you didn’t think that clothing going into landfills is a problem, think again. Approximately 500,000 tonnes or 1 billion items of clothing are sent to landfill each year – that’s 114,000 per hour. Neither the planet’s landfill sites, nor its resources, are infinite and we know that placing unwanted clothing items into the bin (and therefore into landfill) when they could be recycled or re-used – is not sustainable. Marks & Spencer are hoping that this new project will encourage a new way of buying clothes in the future. They are not saying that we should buy fewer items, but just be more aware of what happens to clothes that we no longer want for ourselves. The fact that they can be so useful for someone else, and Marks & Spencer are prepared to do all the work for us is a no brainer really. I mean, I’ve tried selling clothes at a car boot sale and it’s difficult!
Shwopping is integral to the stores Plan A scheme which is an environmental and ethical programme which aims to make M&S the world’s most sustainable major retailer by 2015. Through Plan A they are working with customers and suppliers to combat climate change, reduce waste, use sustainable raw materials, trade ethically, and help their customers to lead healthier lifestyles. And, as part of Plan A, M&S has committed to help customers recycle over 20 million items of clothing a year by 2015.
Plus, you don’t just get to feel good about yourself when you Shwop. You can enter a weekly £100 gift card prize draw (details can be found on the Shwop Drop box). You can also join Facebook Shwopping page for chances to win more prizes and get updates on the difference shwopping is making. So next time you go shopping, go shwopping instead and change the way we buy clothes from now on.