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  • This January two thirds of M&S customers are planning a New Year’s wardrobe clear-out 
  • M&S is encouraging them to take advantage of its rewarding Shwopping scheme – where nothing pre-loved goes to waste, and customers receive a treat!  
  • Shwopping is a key part of M&S’s Plan A sustainability programme which has a singular focus on the retailer becoming a net zero Scope 3 business by 2040

With clothing a popular Christmas gift (45% of the UK planned to gift it this Christmas) it’s perhaps unsurprising that a recent M&S survey has found that the majority of its customers are planning a January clear-out to make space for new items. 65% of M&S customers are planning to sort out their wardrobe this January and in response the retailer is calling on them to donate their pre-loved clothing to Oxfam via its long-standing Shwopping scheme. Following a refresh of Shwopping in September, this New Year is the first time customers have been rewarded with a treat for donating items from their post-Christmas clear-out – all they need to do is ensure they’re signed up to M&S’s loyalty scheme, Sparks, and scan the QR code on the box when they drop off their clothes at any of M&S’s Clothing stores; the treat will then appear in their Sparks hub. More than 13 million people in the UK are already signed up to Sparks, where good things happen every time you shop (or shwop).

Shwopping – any items welcome 

When asked what they are planning to do with the clothes they clear out, donating to charity shops and recycling were the top customer responses. Additionally, around a quarter of customers think they will sell some, and one in five are thinking about passing them on to family and friends. One in five of those planning to have a New Year’s clear-out said they might put garments in the bin, so M&S is encouraging customers to donate to its shwopping boxes good quality, clean clothes that Oxfam can sell to raise money for its work fighting poverty around the world. Items that customers can give to Oxfam via the Shwop boxes includes shoes, handbags, jewellery, belts, hats, scarves, and bras - and these can be from any retailer (not just M&S). During January M&S will be encouraging customers to take part via its local social media pages. 

Carmel McQuaid, Head of Sustainable Business for M&S, said:

We know our customers are busy and we’re passionate about helping them live lower carbon lives by offering simple solutions that make it easy. Reselling, reusing, and recycling clothing is a simple way that we can all make a difference and our long-standing shwopping scheme with Oxfam is a brilliant programme that rewards customers for doing their bit.”

Shwopping – 13 years of reselling, recycling and reusing

M&S launched shwopping in 2008 and to date over 35 million items have been donated raising an estimated £23m for Oxfam’s vital work across the world – making it a great way to help people and the planet. All clothing items that customers donate are sent to Oxfam where they are sorted for recycling. Oxfam’s unique recycling plant, Wastesaver and partner CTR, stop textiles being sent to landfill. Damaged or low-grade items can be sold to recycling traders so they can, for instance, be turned into car soundproofing or mattress stuffing. Absolutely nothing goes to waste which is critical as approximately 336,000 tonnes of clothing (worth around £140 million) is sent to landfill each year – a figure the planet cannot continue to sustain. 

Lorna Fallon, Retail Director for Oxfam, said: 

“If you’re thinking about having a clear-out after Christmas, drop clothes off in the Shwop bins in M&S. Not only is it better for the environment, but Oxfam can sell good quality, clean donations to raise vital funds for our work around the world.”

Shwopping – an important part of Plan A 

As part of its Plan A relaunch in September, M&S set out a multi-stakeholder plan spanning customers, colleagues, suppliers, and the wider industry to drive reduction in its Scope 3 emissions. To help customers enjoy lower carbon lives, M&S outlined a programme of initiatives including continuing with Shwopping with the addition of rewards. This important reset came as the latest M&S Family Matters report shows climate change concerns continue to grow amongst UK families - with 64% of the 5,000 respondents naming it as a top concern and it is the fastest growing topic of family discussion. Following the reset of Plan A, M&S has been working at pace to bolster existing commitments (such as shwopping) and introduce new ones including trialling clothing rental with Hire Street. The retailer will be working at pace throughout 2022 to drive carbon reduction and to have important conversations with customers through its ongoing Look Behind the Label campaign. Customers can find out more about what M&S is doing on the Look Behind the Label hub on M& - from its cotton commitment to its climate-conscious coffee.  

Carmel McQuaid’s Top 7 Tips for sustainably sorting your wardrobe this January  

  1. Take your time. 
    The average woman has 110 items in her wardrobe (and the average man has 83) so having a sort out can feel a bit overwhelming, especially if you’re adding new items you received for Christmas, so break it into chunks – maybe this week you’ll tackle the jeans and next the jumpers. January feels like the month you have to have a sort-out but shwop boxes (and treats) are available all year round so there’s no rush.
  2. Be honest with yourself.
    If you’re never going to wear it – let it do some good by donating it to a good cause (to date shwopping has raised £23 million for those in need around the world). One popular trick is to turn all your hangers to face the same way and when you’ve worn an item flip it the other way, if in six months the hanger hasn’t flipped to show you’ve worn it – you probably aren’t going to.
  3. Remember – there’s lots of options – just don’t bin it!
    There are so many different options for pre-loved clothes that help them do some good – from giving to a neighbour to donating to your local charity shop. In addition to shwopping at M&S stores customers can also Shwop at Oxfam shops – if you have an item of M&S clothing in your Shwopping when you take it to an Oxfam store they’ll give you a £5 off M&S Clothing & Home voucher.
  4. Repair & Restyle 
    A new year sort-out isn’t just about getting rid of clothes, maybe now is the time to finally resew the missing button onto your shirt, or take your boots down to the local High Street to be reheeled. It’s also worth thinking about how you look after your new clothing – new M&S cashmere for Christmas? Natural moth repellents are a good investment! And it’s not just about repairing – but restyling, we can all feel a bit fed up in January – including with our clothes – but at M&S we’re increasingly looking at how we show our customers different ways to wear our versatile clothing which is built on staples and non-seasonal pieces. Throughout January our Instagram page will be bursting with ideas – especially around weatherproofing and layering. 
  5. You’re already recycling, resusing and reselling – why not try renting! 
    January is about new beginnings so it’s also a great month to try something new - just before Christmas we teamed up with Hire Street – a great site on which customers can try renting clothing from just £13. 
  6. Make a New Year’s Resolution to Wash at 30!  
    Once you’re clutter free think about how else you can lower the impact of your wardrobe – washing at a lower temperate is a really good one. In 2007 we launched a campaign to encourage customers to wash at 30°C, saving around 40% energy per wash and that advice still stands 14 years later! It’s a small new year’s resolution that can make a big difference! The M&S quality also means that our products don’t necessarily have to be washed as much and lots of them have ‘stay new’ finishes which prevents colour fade when you do wash. We also make our clothes with our busy customer in mind which means a lot of items don’t need ironing – not only a time saver but keeps clothes looking good for longer.
  7. Get the whole family involved. 
    We all know how passionate many of the next generation are about sustainability so get them involved in the process of sorting & shwopping. January can often feel like a very long month and having a good sort-out can be fun – especially if accompanied by M&S snacks! 

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About Oxfam

  • Oxfam is a global movement of people all working towards the same goal – an end to the injustice of poverty. Together we save and rebuild lives in disasters, help people earn a living, and speak out on the big issues that keep people poor, like inequality and climate change.
  • Oxfam has more than 70 years’ experience championing second-hand. The first shop was opened in Broad Street, Oxford, in 1948 to raise money from the donations of second-hand items for the Greek famine.