Cause Marketing FOCUS > You're busy. Our blog, Cause Marketing FOCUS, helps you cut through the rhetoric and focus on the practical tips and ideas that can fuel your growth. Welcome!



Waste Reduction Is Sexy! Say Fashion Industry Sustainability Trend Setters H&M and Marks & Spencer

Posted by: Trisha Stezzi on 2/28/2013

cause marketing | sustainability: waste-reduction

Corporate social responsibility is in style, no doubt about it.  Now, it appears that “waste-reduction” is also “in fashion.”  Two major fashion retailers have launched fashion-forward waste-reduction sustainability campaigns that could revolutionize the industry. Marks & Spencer, and H&M are each making sustainability sexy via programs that encourage and facilitate reducing, reusing, recycling and upcycling.  These brands are meeting their consumers where they are – at the mall – with programs that engage them around a topic that is of significant importance to them, environmental impact.  Not unlike the perfect little black dress, thoughtfully designed CSR programs can become priceless.

There are a myriad of studies emphasizing the importance that millennials and other consumers place on social impact. These two brands look to be making a grab for market share in the fashion space when it comes to sustainability.  To hold onto the lead, they’ll need to continue meaningful consumer engagement and tell compelling stories showcasing specific impact and authentic commitment.

Marks & Spencer – Shwop (shop + swap = shwop)

British retailer Marks & Spencer created the “Shwop” program to inspire a fashion revolution.  The brand has set out to create a new standard for the fashion industry by focusing on the impact that can be made by re-using, recycling and upcycling (but you already knew that since we gave you the heads-up in a recent Cause twINFO post). 

Consumers can donate clothing, accessories and shoes at permanent in-store shwop boxes and at pop-up shwops.  For doing so, they are entered into a weekly drawing for a £100 gift card.  Related prize drawings also take place on Facebook. Consumers’ shwopped items are donated to Marks & Spencer’s nonprofit partner Oxfam who resells, reuses or recycles them to help people around the world overcome poverty.  This is a zero-waste program. Since 2008, over 10 million garments have been schwopped, equating to £8 million (or 421,052 fishing rods, for example). 

To raise awareness the campaign utilizes social media, celebrities and creative guerrilla marketing tactics like dressing a factory with 10,000 used clothing items to help people visualize the enormous amount of clothing going into UK landfills every 5 minutes. Check it out here.  

Shwop is part of  Marks & Spencer’s environmental and ethical program “Plan A” which aims to make it the world’s most sustainable major retailer by 2015.

Harvard Business Review’s “Can Advertising Change The World?” blog post by Julia Kirby, includes this perspective from Marks & Spencer CEO, Marc Bolland:

"We're leading a change in the way we all shop for clothing, forever." He hopes the movement will catch on to the point where all stores take back one garment for every one they sell. "For us that's 350 million a year," he says. "It is a big number, but with our customers' help, we will do it."

Well, it looks like it worked Mr. Bolland…

H&M Launches FIRST EVER Global Garment Recycling Program

This week, H&M (#42 on Forbes Most Powerful Brands) launched its own garment recycling program “Don’t Let Fashion Go To Waste,” claiming honor of "first global garment recycling program."  Consumers can bring up to 2 bags of clothes per day (in any condition) to donate via 1,500 fashion collection boxes worldwide (269 U.S. locations plus 48 global markets) located in H&M retail locations. Clothing donors receive a coupon for 15% off-a-single-item for each bag contributed.  H&M will donate 1 cent per pound of clothing collected to “a local charity chosen by H&M.” 

H&M partnered with it's US program beneficiary Global Green USA to kickoff the global garment recycling program at Global Green's 10th annual Pre-Oscar party.

H&M has partnered with I:CO, which stands for “I collect.” I:CO provides the infrastructure to ensure that valuable raw materials from the donated textiles enter a closed loop production cycle and remain there. From collection to recycling, consumer goods are recycled and put to a new use, thus actively contributing to climate protection.

Click here to learn more about H&M’s sustainability efforts or view their 7-point commitment showcased here in H&M Conscious Actions 2011 Highlights.

There are certainly other fashion retailers facilitating the donation of clothing to support good causes (Burlington Coat Factory & One Warm Coat, Aeropostale &, and BonTon & Goodwill Industries come to mind).  However, the angle promoted by Marks & Spencer and H&M of sustainability via waste-reduction is a new approach that pivots to make sustainability the "cause” being “marketed” through “strategic partnerships.”  Deeper integration of cause marketing strategies within broader CSR programs like these is an emerging trend due to consumer demand for social impact and sustainability information/engagement combined with the coming of age of cause marketing as a viable practice.

Now…if they could just give me a coupon for 3 inches of guaranteed “waist”-reduction when I support these “waste”-reduction programs I’d definitely be a customer for life!

Like this post?  Sign up for the For Momentum monthly e-newsletter here.

About For Momentum Staff Blogger Trisha Stezzi

Trisha Stezzi, Creative & Digital Director, Account Services
For Momentum

Trisha's insights are informed by 16+ years of creating and implementing custom cause marketing partnerships for major corporate and nonprofit brands combined with her passion for innovation, creativity and love of social media. Read more posts by Trisha here.

Categories: 6. Cause News |
Create a trackback from your own site.


    • Feb 28 2013, 8:47 PM Trisha Stezzi
    • This Fast Company Coexist blog post "Clothing Companies Start Creating Their Own Circular Economies" points out that North Face is also working with i:co, installing "Clothes the Loop" bins in 10 stores in Chicago, New York, and San Francisco.

    • Apr 15 2013, 12:23 PM Brandon
    • I think this is one of the most significant info for me. And i am glad rendaig your article. But wanna remark on some general things, The web site style is perfect, the articles is really excellent : D. Good job, cheers

Leave A Comment

Please enter the CAPTCHA phrase above.

Tag Cloud


Cause Talk Radio Podcast


Episode 126: What Companies Want from a Nonprofit Partner
Recorded July 2015

Sharing insights from For Momentum's 2015 Corporate Partner Survey, Mollye Rhea talks to Megan Strand and Joe Waters about what companies really want from their nonprofit partners. 

In this episode of Cause Talk Radio, Mollye, Megan and Joe discuss:
  • How the most common question clients asked For Momentum became the basis for the survey.
  • What hunches did the survey legitimize? What answers surprised For Momentum?
  • How companies are shifting their interest in nonprofits from a sales focus to a genuine interest in social impact. 
  • How companies are looking for good nonprofit partners and are eager to work with more than one partner.
  • How brand alignment, awareness are driving factors for partnerships.
  • How the tremendous growth in the social good movement has given nonprofits an unprecedented and powerful opportunity with businesses.
  • Mollye's thoughts on what nonprofits need to do to engage companies.
  • The biggest mistakes nonprofits make when they call on a company.
Listen to Mollye Rhea on Cause Talk Radio Episode 126: What Companies Want from a Nonprofit Partner.

FREE Resources

For Momentum's Giving Tuesday E-book: Corporate Partners, Activate!


Statistics and trends from this growing global movement and ideas to supercharge your Giving Tuesday campaign with a cause partnership.

For Momentum: Cause Marketing Statistics
For Momentum Cause Marketing Statistics

A categorized compilation of industry statistics showcasing demand and relevance of cause marketing


A handy glossary of 200+ cause marketing terms
to help demystify industry jargon and inform

your strategies



Social Media




Creative Commons License
Link back to the post if you'd like to share it!