M&S & Oxfam’s 1-Day Clothes Exchange Clear Out

Oxfam M&S 1


A new animated webfilm, from artist Will Barras, promotes and explains the new ‘Clothes Exchange partnership between UK charity Oxfam and bellwether retailer M&S.


The two have teamed up to help shoppers support the world’s poorest people. The idea is simple, bring your old M&S clothes or soft furnishings to any Oxfam shop and you will receive a £5 voucher to use at M&S.


It’s a nice, simple way to clear out your home, save money, reduce waste and raise heaps of money for Oxfam.


The campaign is spearheaded by a celebrity clothes clear out – called The One Day Wardrobe Clear Out. Stars of the fashion and TV world have had a big wardrobe clean through to the campaign. Donating items which the public can then purchase through an online charity auction.


The scheme aims to reduce the number of clothing items sent to landfill, while raising awareness of the causes that donations made through Oxfam support. Customers can exchange unwanted items at Oxfam shops in return for a voucher giving a £5 discount for every purchase over £35 on clothing, home and beauty in M&S stores.


An app, which can be accessed through the Marks & Spencer website, allows customers to visualise ‘how your clothing could make a difference’. By dragging a priced item of clothing onto a model, a description of the resulting benefit to the Oxfam cause is displayed.


Donating a handbag that is sold on for £16, for example, could ‘help combat climate change and preserve traditional livelihoods by protecting a hectare of Columbian rainforest’.


2500 tonnes of unwanted M&S clothing is said to have avoided being dumped in landfill since the start of the scheme.




Since the Clothes Exchange started in January 2008, it’s helped prevent over 2,500 tonnes of clothing going to landfill. Selling the clothes has raised an extra £3 million for Oxfam work.


Working with Oxfam allows Marks & Spencer to offer another avenue of its ‘Plan A’ approach to dealing with some of the biggest issues facing the global community. The eye catching, interactive app gives an element of fun as well as providing insight into the good of their actions, although it may have had a stronger following if it had been directly accessible through Facebook.


Other brands, such as Patagonia, have promoted the idea of clothes recycling by setting up a forum for customers to exchange clothing, but by partnering with a well-known charity like Oxfam (which has stores on many of the same high streets as Marks & Spencer) gives an instant authority to the scheme.


Marks & Spencer’s approach promotes the feel good factor of raising awareness of the issues at the same time as facilitating customers to buy new goods without feeling guilty about previous, unwanted purchases.


However, what we liked about Patagonia’s approach is that it encourages responsible behaviour without the need to offer a monetary incentive, and has the potential to reduce excessive consumption rather than increase it by encouraging the purchase of more goods in exchange for donations.


Marks & Spencer’s effort at steering its customers towards eco-responsible practices could have benefitted from taking a higher risk approach to promoting clothing recycling than by supporting a scheme that has an obvious profit motif attached








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