Marks & Spencers teams up with Oxfam

Marks & Spencers teams up with Oxfam

2.4 billion items of unworn clothing in the British wardrobe

New research unveiled on first day of the ‘M&S and Oxfam Clothes Exchange’

Almost half of the clothes in Britain’s wardrobes go unworn, a new survey from Oxfam and Marks & Spencer has shown. A YouGov report, commissioned to mark the first day of the M&S and Oxfam Clothes Exchange, shows that 46 per cent of people’s clothes – an estimated 2.4 billion items – have sat gathering dust on shelves and hangers and were not worn once in the last year.

The M&S and Oxfam Clothes Exchange is designed to encourage people to recycle their unwanted clothes by donating them to Oxfam. From today, customers making a donation of M&S clothes to one of Oxfam’s 790 stores across the UK and Republic of Ireland, will receive a voucher worth £5 (€7), valid for one month, to use with their next purchase of £35 or more on clothing, homeware or beauty products at M&S. The Exchange will be trialled for six months and reviewed on an ongoing basis.

The YouGov research also shows that people between the ages of 25-34 own the most expensive unworn clothes – worth an average of £228. These unworn clothes could be easily donated to Oxfam to raise vital funds for Oxfam’s work to tackle poverty. In addition, the research reveals that the average person in the UK has 101 items in their wardrobe worth just over £430. Men have an average of 77 items in their wardrobes while women have 124.

Barbara Stocking, Director, Oxfam said:
“There are huge numbers of gorgeous clothes sitting unworn in people’s houses. Oxfam is the original clothes recycling service, and we can turn these forgotten garments into urgently needed money to tackle poverty.

“The M&S and Oxfam Clothes Exchange means that people who donate their unwanted clothes can save money at M&S while also helping the environment by wasting less, and helping Oxfam improve the lives of countless people around the world – so everyone benefits.”

Sir Stuart Rose, Chief Executive, Marks & Spencer said:
“Through the M&S and Oxfam Clothes Exchange we are encouraging customers to dig deep in to their wardrobes to help fight poverty. By simply donating clothes they no longer need, customers will not only enable Oxfam to increase the important work it does to tackle poverty around the world, they will also help reduce the one million tonnes of clothing sent to landfill each year.”

Marks & Spencer is supporting the Exchange as part of Plan A. Launched a year ago this month, Plan A sets-out M&S’ 100 ‘eco-targets’ for the next five years, including aiming to become carbon neutral and send no waste to landfill from its operations.


For further information, go to or

For further information for media, please call:
Marks & Spencer
Olivia Ross 0208 718 1618 / 07795 968 641
Clare Wilkes 0208 718 8642 / 07831 829 891

Rob McNeil 01865 472334 / 07909 860 370

Additional facts and figures from the M&S and Oxfam Clothes Exchange survey, carried out by YouGov:

· People in the South West of England are the most likely to donate their clothes to charity shops – 84 per cent will do so.
· The number of clothes owned across Britain does not vary much, except in Wales, where there are 17 fewer items in the average wardrobe – 84 items compared to the national average of 101.
· Londoners have the most expensive clothes in their wardrobe – with an average total value of £534.
· People in the West Midlands have the least expensive clothes in their wardrobes – with an average total value of £384.
· People aged 18-24 have own the most expensive clothes – with an average total value of £503
· People aged over 55 have the least expensive clothes – with an average total value of £402
· People in the South West are the most likely to donate to charity (84 per cent), while people in the East Midlands are the least likely to (72 per cent)

Survey carried out by YouGov in December 2007, sample size 2,082 people across Great Britain.

Notes to editors:

M&S and Oxfam Clothes Exchange
· The M&S and Oxfam Clothes Exchange will raise more money for Oxfam to help people escape poverty around the world. This includes dealing with issues in more than 70 countries, ranging from campaigning against unfair trade rules that keep developing countries in poverty, to providing tools, seeds and skills to poor farmers. It also means helping vulnerable communities when disasters happen; supporting women’s rights in developing countries and working to tackle climate change and HIV and AIDS.
· Vouchers not issued for M&S intimate apparel (such as lingerie, underwear and swimwear), hosiery and socks that are donated to Oxfam.
· One voucher provided in return for donations containing at least one piece of M&S labelled clothing, or a handbag, pair of shoes, belt, hat, pair of gloves or scarf.
· In the Republic of Ireland, M&S vouchers will be for €7 off €50 on M&S general merchandise.
· One M&S voucher can be used for each transaction in M&S for general merchandise products – clothing, home or beauty (not food).
· One million tonnes of clothing sent to landfill each year, source DEFRA 2006.

Oxfam and textiles
· Oxfam is the only major charity to operate its own textile sorting facility, Wastesaver, which maximises revenue from textiles that cannot be re-sold in its shops and minimises the amount of textiles sent to landfill. The facility sorts clothing and resells it through a number of different routes, including:
· redistribution to Oxfam shops
· selling on the Oxfam online shop and at festivals
· to designers who restyle garments and reuse fabrics in their collections
· to textile wholesalers in the UK and overseas
· the low grade items not sold as clothing are sold in bulk to recycling traders where it is used, for example, as mattress filler, carpet underlay, upholstery and car sound insulation.
· M&S and Oxfam will also explore the possibility of taking materials that can’t be sold or recycled through traditional methods, such as embellished denim, and recycling it into cardboard boxes, for example, or back into denim clothing.

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