High street retailer Marks & Spencer (M&S) has today launched a new clothes recycling campaign fronted by model, actress and activist Joanna Lumley.
Lumley has become a worldwide ambassador for the M&S corporate responsibility programme Plan A and is to be the face of the new ‘Shwopping’ initiative in which the retailer will ask its customers to bring in an old piece of clothing each time they by a new one.
Donated clothes will be resold, reused or recycled through charity organisation Oxfam, and M&S hopes this could eventually save as many as 350 million items of clothing from ending up at landfill sites every year.
Lumley commented: ”I’m really excited to be working with M&S and have long admired Plan A. Their latest initiative, Shwopping, is all about getting customers to recycle unwanted clothes every time they shop at M&S. It’s a big, bold campaign and a first for the high street.
“We’re asking people to open their hearts, their minds and their wardrobes. Remember we used to just throw away plastic bottles. Now we recycle them without even thinking about it. We need to do the same with clothing. Bring in something old; buy something new. Swap and shop. It’s that simple.”
M&S estimates that 10,000 clothes go to landfill sites everday and to emphasis this problem Lumley, the retailer’s CEO Marc Bolland and Oxfam CEO Barbara Stocking visited a East London street today covered in that number of clothing items.
TV, print and online advertising has been launched to try and promote Shwopping and encourage a culture of ‘buy one, give one away’ on the high street.
Bolland added: “We’re leading a change in the way we all shop for clothing, forever. This is the right, responsible move for the UK’s biggest clothing retailer and the ultimate goal is simple – to put a complete stop to clothes ending up in landfill.
“We want to get back one garment for every one we sell. For us that’s 350 million a year. It is a big number, but with our customers’ help, we will do it.”
Previous Plan A schemes launched by the retailer in the last year include ‘the big beach clean-up’ which saw M&S customers help tidy litter from the British coastline, and the creation of the first ever carbon-neutral bra.
Lumley first made her name playing Purdey in the 1970s TV series The New Avengers but is perhaps best known for her turn as alcoholic Patsy in comedy series Absolutely Fabulous which first aired in 1992.
In 2008 she won wide acclaim for spearheading a campaign which won veteran Gurkha soliders the right to settle in Britain.