Online clothing portal gives consumers option to donate unwanted items to charity instead of returning


A new scheme allows consumers to donate unwanted clothing to charity, earning donation ‘drop points’ – a fixture of the bricks-and-mortar shopping experience that is now being introduced with e-commerce. Online clothing retailer Oh Polly is the first sign-up to the initiative.

The Online Clothing Bank (and Oh Polly’s page is viewable here), launched by The Salvation Army and returns expert ReBOUND, will give shoppers the option to provide much-needed support to the charity sector, which has faced a devastating 18 months with the COVID-19 measures.

“The Salvation Army has since seen fundraising begin to rise,” says the group, “as generous Brits lend a hand to the most vulnerable and the Online Clothing Bank should supercharge this renewed support. Launching at the time of year when many shoppers look to clear out wardrobes ready for a new season, the Online Clothing Bank offers a fresh pipeline of stock just as charity shops most need it.”

Retailers can sign up to the scheme for free, adding the option into their own websites with the logistics handled entirely by ReBOUND. As the first brand to sign up to the scheme, Oh Polly shoppers can click to donate unwanted clothing and shoes, via the online donation portal, providing shoppers with the opportunity to give to charity from the comfort of their own homes instead of attending a local charity shop. Oh Polly, Neena Swim and Bo+Tee will reward customers by exchanging all donations for a discount on their next order, rewarding shoppers for taking part in the circular economy. Shoppers donating items will receive a free packaging label to attach to their parcel and send directly to the Salvation Army.

The Online Clothing Bank is open to all retailers selling online and covers a wide range of items desperately needed by The Salvation Army, including clothing and shoes. The initiative will also help combat the rising Throwaway Fashion crisis that sees more than 336,000 tonnes of clothing ending up in landfill as retailers are unable to deal with a mountain of unwanted clothing being returned.

The Online Clothing Bank is the latest step in the retail sector’s push towards sustainability, which has seen a rise in donation bins placed in physical stores. Adding this online feature will supercharge the effect, enabling shoppers to donate around the clock instead of relying on store opening hours.

Alix McShane, Oh Polly Head of Customer Service, said:
“Oh Polly is delighted to be the first brand on board with the Online Clothing Bank. This is the time of year when many customers start to make space in their wardrobes and this initiative offers a convenient way to clear out old clothing for the season ahead, provide vital support to charity and do their bit for a happier, healthier planet. Our shoppers are all too aware of the harmful impact that throwaway fashion has on the environment so we’ll be encouraging all Oh Polly customers to bank rather than bin unwanted clothing.”

Kirk Bradley, Salvation Army Head of Corporate Partnerships, said:
“We are extremely grateful for the continued support from members of the public who can now donate their pre-loved items through ReBOUND. This scheme will help our recovery after a difficult 18 months. The temporary closure of our shops due to the lockdowns has meant millions of pounds in lost revenues and potential funds which go directly to The Salvation Army, and whose frontline services have supported the community throughout the pandemic. The charity continues to provide wide-ranging help to people who need it. This can be support for families unable to pay utility bills, rough sleepers struggling to feed themselves or simply friendship to the isolated and lonely. The Salvation Army also supports the emergency services in times of crisis and helps victims of modern slavery here in the UK.”

Emily Cotterill, ReBOUND Head of Sustainability, said:
“The pandemic has rapidly accelerated retail’s approach to selling online and it makes sense to bring the donations process into this digital transformation. The Online Clothing Bank is the next step towards a more sustainable, circular retail economy to benefit consumers, retailers and, most importantly, good causes. We’re calling on all retailers and brands to take part and return the charity sector to full strength after a devastating 18 months.”