John Lewis is piloting a service in which customers can arrange for unwanted clothing bought from its shops and website to be collected from their home – and be paid immediately for each item, regardless of its condition.
The department store group’s initiative is being tested by over 100 John Lewis customers, with social enterprise Stuffstr.
This app-based service links to data on what products the customer has bought from John Lewis over the past five years, and values those items. Customers select the products they want to sell and are immediately shown the amount they can receive for them.
Once a customer has a minimum of £50 worth of clothing to sell, a courier will collect the products within three hours. As soon as the products have been collected, the customer is emailed a John Lewis e-gift card for the value of the items they have sold. Items bought back are then resold, or mended so they can be resold, or recycled into new products.
Martyn White, sustainability manager at John Lewis, said: “We already take back used sofas, beds, and large electrical items such as washing machines, and either donate them to charity or reuse and recycle parts. We now want to offer a service for fashion products.’
“It’s estimated [by charity WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme)] that the average UK household owns around £4,000 worth of clothes – but around 30% of that clothing has not been worn for at least a year, most commonly because it no longer fits.
“We hope that by making it as easy as we possibly can for customers to pass on clothing that they’re no longer wearing, we can ensure that the maximum life is extracted from items bought from us. All customers need to do to earn money from their unwanted clothing is to ‘tap’ on the clothing they want to sell and hand it to a courier – and it will be given to someone else to love or made into something new.
“If the concept proves successful, the next stage will be to offer an option for customers to donate the money to charity.”
Last year, John Lewis reused over 27,000 electrical products and approximately 2,000 used sofas, and recycled materials from 55,000 mattresses.
John Atcheson, ceo of Stuffstr, added: “We’re excited to be working with John Lewis on this new service. Every item has value – even old socks – and we want to make it as simple as possible for John Lewis customers to benefit from their unwanted clothes. This service gives customers an incentive to buy high quality, longer-lasting products – and buying such products is a win for both customers and the environment.”