Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Oxfam - Goats, chickens and cows, oh my! - press that blue button to help me help Oxfam!

Everyone knows Oxfam - they are the archetypal charity shop.  They are the first name that springs to mind when you think of shopping for ethical and fairtrade goods as well as the place to go to grab a bargain on previously-loved little treasures.  And some amazing stuff they have too!

But what do they do?  Well, most people have some idea - they build schools and services and look after people in danger from natural and human-made disaster.  They try to improve millions of lives but they are always fighting against one thing above all others - human nature.

I read this post in the Bad Science blog and thought about the effect this must have on charities that deal with 21 million lives affected by the Pakistan floods, 1 billion people in extreme poverty (2/3 of which are women) or the half a million people affected by the cholera epidemic in Haiti.

The blog post is about a study that seems to show that people will tend to dole out bigger punishments to those who have defrauded 3 people than to those who defrauded 30 people...and without just regurgitating the entire blog post (not good!) they also look at real-world cases of court cases and found that juries seem to give greater punishment to people who harm smaller numbers of people than people that harm large numbers (like companies that have exposed people to toxic substances).  Dr Ben Goldacre's analysis is right  - it could just be that large companies have better lawyers but with the results of the study too, there is also a part to play for the analysis that people feel less empathy for larger numbers of people.  Like it's just too big to comprehend/empathise with.

To counteract this slightly depressing fact about human empathy, Oxfam have been very clever....here are gifts you can buy that bring home what your donations really mean on a level people find easier to empathise with:

Firstly who could resist this gorgeous creature anyway?

You can buy a family a goat to give them milk to drink and to help fertilise their crops, Give a chicken and you’re giving a family a little egg factory that will also produce chicks for rearing into other chickens or trading to pay for school fees and health care. Low-maintenance and high-yielding, these little cluckers are going to help a local family feed, thrive and survive. £19 buys support for a small business.  Clever.  This is the stuff that makes it easy to understand where your money goes and the effect it has.  Being a science-phile I like the numbers.  I like to see the numbers of lives saved and the numbers of Cholera-infected treated because each of those numbers is a person....but even still, it's these stories about people (even in the UK) that really hit home.

I volunteer at my local Oxfam shop - it's fun, you meet lots of people and the staff are a lot of fun.  It's cool to sift through the stuff that's donated- some of it's even really rare or valuable.  Oxfam and many big charities look on the outside to be spending a lot of their hard-earned donations on administration and overheads but the fact is they use that money to turn it into more money!  10p in every £1 is spent on support and running costs.  To pay expenses for volunteers to go and gift-wrap presents in return for donations may mean spending that £10 someone donated to go to Africa.  But if it means that those volunteers used that £10 to bring in £300 (as we recently did do!) then I think it's worth it.

Anyway off my soap-box. 

Here's what I am doing....I have recently started selling things to help keep me in pennies while I look for a job and because it's something I enjoy.  I sell handmade little brooches (as well as other things), they make lovely little gifts and most of them are made of recycled wool...I think there must be a few people out there willing to part with approx £5 for one of these if only they knew about them:

Other designs available!

And every time someone does buy one of these, I will donate another to my local shop so they can sell it.  I thought about donating a percentage profit, but this way they get 100% profit on each item I donate.  My sales obviously subsidise the costs of materials for these donations and so this is what I need!  More sales!

So how can you help?  Just share this blog-there's a little button on the right hand side to the top....blue, reminds you of that website where you waste hours and hours of your time...facebook, that's it!

That's right, it doesn't cost you a penny!  Just share it with as many people as you can - people who like oxfam, brooches, recycled wool  or who like other people who like brooches!  Just to tempt you more to press that button - I will donate an extra brooch for every 20 "shares" counted by this share counter!   I hope that this increased exposure will mean I sell a few more brooches than I would have done without the shares and so this will fund the extra donations.  I am setting a max of 200 "shares" for extra donations until I see more sales and know that I can afford more....

EDIT:  After a suggestion by Bev below - I will also donate for every time the Tweet counter hits 40 tweets....Max total donations will be 15 brooches through FB or Twitter for now.

Mind you, if you want to buy a brooch too, then who am I to stop you?

I would be happy if people read this blog and...

Read a bit about Oxfam 
Got involved in some way with Oxfam
Bought a gorgeous goat!
Pressed the little blue facebook share button and tell some people who want a handmade recycled brooch gift that this brooch exists....

or bought a brooch!

Go on....whatever you are almost about to do - do it! :)

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Move over Gok Wan!

Forget Designer Vs High Street and say "hello" to High Street Vs Handmade

I found myself in Manchester city centre the other day wandering around the high street shops.  I was wondering why I used to think buying one of a kind and original items always cost a lot more than mass-produced high street stuff.  Yes-even with chinese/indian workers and economies of scale sometimes the nicest handmade, unique stuff you can get is cheaper or a similar price to something nice that a million other people will also be buying!  Also some super-unique stuff at the bottom that I doubt you can find in the high st at all!

So here are some (clickable-some only work when clicking on the price) examples of handmade/high st for those of you doing your xmas/hannukah/wintersolstice/winterwedding shopping and wanting something not mass produced:

£25 + £3 Postage
£28 + £4 Postage

£4.50 +£1.50 Postage
£6 free postage

£7 +£1 Postage
£10 + free postage

£2 +£1 postage
£2 + £3.25 Postage

Unique affordable things you won't find on the high street!
£17.95 +£2 postage

£24 +£1.70 postage

£10 + £1 postage

And my own piece made from newspaper yarn handspun from old newspaper and knitted into a heart!

£30 + £1.50 postage

And my super value handmade recycled wool brooch with donation to Oxfam - more on that later or in my Folksy shop.

£5.50 free postage - one donated to local oxfam shop for each brooch purchased

 If anyone else has any high st vs handmade comparisons email me and you can do a guest post!

Prices were correct at time of publishing.