M and S team up with Oxfam in clothes recycling initiative

February 12, 2008 at 2:43 am

If your wardrobe has received a boost this Christmas, you may be planning a trip to the charity shop with your old clothes. If they happen to originate from Marks and Spencer and you have an Oxfam shop near you (find your nearest branch here) then you are in luck, because the two organisations have banded together in an unusual initiative designed not only to boost Oxfam’s funds but also to cut down on the one million tonnes of clothing sent each year to landfill sites in the UK. Many of these clothes are perfectly serviceable and could be sold in charity shops, and the rest could be recycled.

A £5 voucher will be given for each bag of clothes donated to any of the charity’s 790 shops, provided at least one item bears the M and S label. The vouchers are valid for a month and can be redeemed against purchases of at least £35 in the clothing, beauty and homeware departments of Marks and Spencer. There is nothing to stop people donating multiple bags of clothes, each one with an item from M and S, thus obtaining more than one voucher, although a spokeswoman said that the retailer would be monitoring the scheme carefully for signs of abuse.

The initiative was announced as part of Marks and Spencer’s Plan A Scheme which promotes environmental awareness in an effort to make the store carbon neutral within the next five years.

The director of Oxfam, Barbara Stocking, said “Recycling and reusing clothes – and anything else we can sell – has always been central to Oxfam’s fundraising, as well as being good for the environment. Through our unique textile sorting facility and the resourcefulness and skills of our specialist staff, Oxfam is able to make the most from all the clothes we receive. People’s unwanted clothes really will raise much-needed money to help people living in poverty.”

Oxfam is a bit of an expert in the textile recycling field, being the only major charity in the UK with its very own facility for sorting and redistributing textiles. Based in Huddersfield, its Wastesaver plant receives 12,000 tonnes of clothes, textiles and shoes each year which cannot be dealt with at store level. This mass is sorted and resold either in shops, online or to wholesalers at home and abroad. Any items which don’t make the grade, are sold for a variety of uses such as mattress filling, insulation or carpet underlay.

Whilst a large percentage of the UK population buys their underwear at Marks and Spencer, you may rest assured that you are not going to see any holey socks or greying Y-fronts adorning the shelves of Oxfam. Items of lingerie, underwear, hosiery, socks and swimwear are excluded from the scheme for reasons of hygiene and one assumes lack of demand!

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One response to “M and S team up with Oxfam in clothes recycling initiative”

  1. Caroline Cook says:

    In theory yes – but M and S are monitoring for signs of abuse – they don’t accept socks either!

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