The Shwopping Revolution
We think that old clothes shouldn’t just be thrown out, they should have a future…
Marks and Spencer, Oxfam and Joanna Lumley of Absolutely Fabulous (i’m pretty sure “Patsy” wouldn’t approve of this scheme) have joined forces and launched a revolutionary new scheme titled “Shwopping”.
To be a Shwopper you need to bring your old item(s) of clothing (they don’t need to be from M&S) to one of the M&S Shwop Drops. All clothing will then go to Oxfam who will either resell it, recycle it to make new material or send it to those in need in a Third World country. The main aim is for M&S to collect as many clothes as are sold and change the way we all shop to reduce the amount of clothing sent to landfill.
Approximately 500,000 tonnes, equivalent to 1 billion items of clothing are sent to landfill each year. The capacity of the planet’s landfill sites are limited, so throwing unwanted clothing items away when they could be recycled or re-used is hardly sustainable. Marks and Spencer and Oxfam hope this project will help see a move away from ‘disposable’ fashion into a society that instead adopts a ‘buy one, give one’ culture, where reusing, recycling and reselling old clothing becomes the norm.
You can Shwop at all M&S stores, except the Simply Food outlets. You aren’t required to buy from M&S when making a Shwop deposit, you can just donate your unwanted items as you would in a Charity shop.
Which poses the question: How is this different to taking your clothing to an Oxfam store yourself?
M&S are trying to raise awareness of the landfill issue whilst encouraging donations to Charity shops and increasing the recycling of textiles. As further incentive to Shwop, all customers who donate through an M&S store are entered into a weekly prize draw to win a £100 gift card. Those who donate directly to an Oxfam store will be offered an M&S voucher, but only if their item is from M&S.
I guess I’ve always been a Shwopper of sorts. At least once a year I wake at dawn, fill my boot till it barely closes and head to the nearest boot sale. I find it very satisfying to re-home my previously loved items whilst making enough money to buy new items to love. Win-win situation! Or am I being selfish, when really I should be donating to Charity shops and helping to support those in need?
The issue for me is this, I feel that Charity shops sell their goods far too expensively. I understand they have costs to cover and are selling the goods in order to cover these as well as to fund/support research/educate into their chosen cause.
But they seem to have stepped away from the original purpose of Charity and second-hand shops, which to my knowledge is to cater to those who are less fortunate and therefore cannot afford to buy from the likes of Marks and Spencer. If these items are in fact for those in poverty how do they afford them? I understand that the money raised through Charity shops goes to help support those less fortunate, but I can’t see how the less fortunate living here in the UK, can afford to buy from them.
Charity shops tend to sell their stock of mostly second-hand items at almost original prices. I can’t see how this encourages either those who can’t afford to buy outright, those buying just to support the Charity or even those buying in order to re-use goods.
Browsing the Oxfam website, I came across a pair of boots listed for £800, ok so they were worn by Beverley Knight when she won 2 MOBO awards in 1998 and this is obviously not an everyday sales item, but would something like this not be more suited to a fundraising auction rather then a Charity website?
Personal feelings aside this is a great campaign. Awareness of depleting landfill sites and the need to move away from being a ‘disposable’ society are issues that need to be brought to the mainstream and with Marks and Spencer working alongside Joanna Lumley and Oxfam, mainstream is definitely where it’s at.
What are your views on Charity shops? Will you be joining the Shwopping Revolution?