Over 7.7 million items of clothing have been prevented from ending up in landfill by donating your unwanted clothes to Shwopping, the award winning partnership between M&S and Oxfam. The value to Oxfam of Shwopping is immense and has generated over £5 million for the charity since Shwopping launched in April 2012.
Not only has Shwopping stopped a huge amount of clothing going into the ground it’s enabled these clothes to get a second chance with Oxfam. The clothes, and let’s not forget shoes, handbags and a whole raft of other accessories are given the chance to be sold again in Oxfam’s high street shops, on Oxfam’s online shop or through social enterprise schemes like Frip Ethique in Senegal and of course to help dress the many people attending festivals up and down the country. Those items that Oxfam can’t sell are also put to use whether they are recycled into mattress stuffing or carpet underlay, they just won’t end up in landfill.
M&S has a goal of recycling one clothing item for every clothing item sold in their stores and Oxfam want to help them achieve this. So far this simple customer mechanism of donating clothing has enabled Oxfam to help many people with the money raised.
The £5 million raised through Shwopping was enough, for example, to cover the amount of money spent in Liberia and Nepal by Oxfam in 2013/14.
Liberia, one of the poorest and most challenging places for development work, Oxfam, in the year 2012/13 were able to help 200,000 people with projects such as building water pumps to ensure a clean supply of water, providing support and training to women’s groups to help them develop ways of earning secure income and to set up community co-operatives to enable members to be able to send their children to school for the first time thanks to their increased income from farming (see picture below).
Photo: Lydia Flomo, attending to seedlings, is a member of the 50-strong Gbalin Co-operative which was founded with the support of Oxfam – Photo by Aubrey Wade
In Nepal, during the same year, Oxfam have been able to help 150,000 people with projects such as introducing seeds that are at less risk of drought and training farmers in skills to cultivate enough food to feed their families and become self-sufficient. Oxfam has also been able provide special rainwater harvesting tanks to help remote communities access clean water (see picture below) and has also helped the flood prone South of the country to be better prepared for, and able to cope with, disasters. This includes helping raise houses above flood levels, building and maintaining community cyclone and flood shelters, providing first aid training and rescue boats, and setting up early warning systems to alert people if the weather changes.
Poor access to clean water means many rural communities in Nepal have to make a several-hour round trip to collect water that is often dirty and unsafe. Rainwater Harvesting Tanks like this one help communities living in rural areas access clean water.
Let’s continue to Shwop, keep those clothes out of landfill and help as many people as we can, M&S and Oxfam can do this like no one else.
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