Oxfam: Marks and Spencer’s schwop­ping’ partnership

Exhibited by
Jane Bardsley
September 17, 2013
Medium of Communication
Target Audience
Type of Charity
International relief/development
Country of Origin
Date of first appearance
April 2012

SOFII’s view

An excellent partnership that is benefiting both Oxfam and Marks and Spencer. But most importantly it is fulfilling the needs of people in the UK and in developing countries miles away. The planet benefits as well.

Creator / originator

Oxfam and retailer Marks and Spencer (M&S).

Summary / objectives

‘Shwopping’ aims to change consumer behaviour through encouraging people to donate unused items of clothing either directly into Oxfam stores or into one of the 703 Marks and Spencer stores throughout the UK. Any brand of clothing is accepted but M&S clothing is encouraged through a £5 reward voucher.


Back in 2008, Oxfam were already talking to a number of key retailers about how to improve the supply chain into their stores. Working closely with Marks and Spencer, Oxfam also identified that they needed to source more good quality items to sell in their stores. Initially this partnership created the clothes exchange where members of the public could get a £5 M&S voucher for taking a Marks and Spencer’s item into Oxfam stores along with their other items.

This helped solve a consumer challenge too. The average UK household owns around £4,000 worth of clothes – but around 30 per cent of clothing in the average wardrobe has not been worn for over a year, most commonly because it no longer fits. This unused clothing is worth £30 billion.

Sadly 31 per cent of used clothing is sent to landfill.

Oxfam and M&S and wanted to change consumer behaviour, to stop all those clothes going to landfill. Marks and Spencer is also a commercial business and wanted to live out their brand values and increase footfall into their stores.

Shwopping takes the clothes exchange to a new level. Customers can take any clothing into any M&S store and know that all the contents of their donation will be recycled. Some items go to Oxfam stores for resale in the UK, some items are shipped abroad where they help drive local economies and provide low cost clothing to people in developing countries. 

Special characteristics

A genuine retail partnership that solved a number of challenges faced by both the partner and charity. It also responded to a consumer need.


Number of items donated: 3.8 million

Amount raised: £2.3 million


A very simple idea that brings together partners who are committed to changing consumer behaviour for the long-term good of our planet.

SOFII’s Once Upon I Wish I'd Thought Of That (IWITOT) 2013 – Jane Bardsley* presents Oxfam and M&S's partnership

*Sadly, Jane Bardsley passed away in February 2014 from cancer, aged 39. She had been head of partnerships at Battersea Dogs & Cats Home for just over two and a half years, having previously worked for media organisations including Emap, Capital Radio and EMI Music.

Oxfam and M&S want to make sure that these clothes don’t end up in a landfill.
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Schwopping encourages people to donate their unwanted clothes rather than chuck them in the bin.
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Some clothing found its way back to M&S shops. That’s successful recycling.
Nearly four million items that could have ended being dumped have been recycled.