The street that brings a whole new meaning to 'messy wardrobe'

  • @gillian_orr

Marks and Spencer has filled Brick Lane in east London with 9,513 discarded garments, the same amount of clothing the UK throws away just every five minutes.

It is to raise awareness of its new initiative, called "shwopping", which asks customers to bring in old or unwanted items – of any brand – when they visit M&S; so those jeans that no longer fit, the peplum dress which seemed like a good idea at the time, or the blazer you're sick of the sight of, can be reused, recycled or resold rather than being thrown away and ending up in our groaning landfill sites. Working in collaboration with Oxfam, it hopes to kick-start a "buy one, give one back" culture to make us approach recycling clothes in the same way that we now recycle glass, plastic and newspapers without thinking about it. "Shwop" drop boxes will be available in 342 UK stores and the donations will either be resold in Oxfam branches or sent abroad and redistributed in places such as Africa.

M&S has also enlisted the fab Joanna Lumley to help out, and let's face it, with her famously breathy voice, she's about the only person who can make a word as ugly as "shwopping" sound attractive. So what does Lumley intend to purge her wardrobe of? "Oh dear," she laughs. "I'm going to have to take up a whole branch of M&S for myself with all the things I have stored up."