World’s Largest Union Jack Recycled From Donated Clothes

The London Olympics are over. I don’t know about you, but I’ve watched more volleyball and water polo this week than any other time in my life. Over the past 14 days, we’ve seen world records for speed, strength, and agility come crashing to the ground. Athletes from countries around the world proved that no matter what your nationality or creed, hard work work and sportsmanship are universally understood.

Interestingly, track stars and swimmers weren’t the only ones setting records in London this past week. UK clothing retailer Marks & Spencer also set out to carve its name into the pages of history, but not for running or javelin tossing. Instead, M&S teamed up with Oxfam to create the world’s largest “Union Jack” from unwanted clothing. It was all part of an initiative to support a UK wide clothing recycling program.


Image via Marks & Spencer

To construct the giant flag, volunteers strategically placed over 2,000 red, white, and blue donated garments. The finished mosaic, which was unfurled at West Ham Park in East London, measured 65-feet across. This unusual art installation was meant to encourage participation in M&S’s “Shwopping” program which encourages shoppers to surrender an unwanted piece of clothing for every new one they purchase.

“Shwopping is our revolutionary sustainable fashion initiative which asks consumers to adopt a ‘buy one, give one’ mentality when shopping and encourage greater sustainability on the high street,” reads the M&S blog. “All the items used in the creation of the flag will be reused, resold or recycled by Oxfam.”

In all, it took volunteers just under two hours to complete the giant recycled Union Jack, which is the same amount of time it took the winning swimmer to complete the 10 km Open Water Swim.

Beth Buczynski is a freelancer writer and editor currently living in the Rocky Mountain West. Her articles appear on Care2, Ecosalon and Inhabitat, just to name a few. So far, Beth has lived in or near three major U.S. mountain ranges, and is passionate about protecting the important ecosystems they represent. Follow Beth on Twitter as @ecosphericblog

1 Comment

  • Reply August 15, 2012

    John Nagiecki

    Great article. We think it is great that Marks and Spencer is helping draw attention to teh need for recycling clothing.

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