Brits toss $142 million in clothing after single wearing

Ever tossed an ugly sweater from your aunt in the trash after wearing it over to her house just once? If you're a Brit, that action added you to the ranks of the more than 12 million citizens who do the same thing every year.

As it nears the end of its five-year Plan A sustainability initiative, Marks & Spencer released a poll last week last week showing that British consumers annually dump nearly $142 million of clothing worn a single time into landfills.

In the latest promotion for its Shwopping customer clothing recycling program -- which takes in used clothing and donates it to the Oxfam human rights organization -- M&S released a YouGov poll of 2,200 UK consumers stating that in the past year, one in five UK consumers threw at least one item of clothing away after only one wearing. The Shwopping program, launched in April, accepts in-store clothing donations – including apparel, accessories and shoes -- of any kind and condition for resale, re-use or recycling of basic materials.

The research caps a busy three months of environmental news from the London-based retailer, which began the $300 million initiative in 2007 with the tagline, "There is no Plan B." The 118-year-old chain also announced it reached its goal of becoming the world’s first major retailer to become carbon neutral and to make all of its children’s clothing from fully traceable materials.

No dollar results yet

While confirming that UK shoppers have brought in 500,000 items of clothing since launching the "Shwopping" program in April, a M&S spokesman would not give details on whether the program has yielded a bump in profitability or traffic for the company, which has 700 stores in the UK alone.

Next page: Reaching the 350-million-item goal