A very Otesha donations dilemma

12th September 2012 by

If you know Otesha, you’ll know that we believe life is much more fulfilling when you manage to stop measuring how good your life is by how much stuff you own. Not only is it a pretty rubbish way of measuring your worth as a person, but the Earth’s life support systems can’t cope with our incredible appetite. You might also know that we find taking a less-is-more attitude is not only good for the planet and good for people, it can also mean lots of fun, creativity and beauty. So we always say: if you can, don’t go shopping, go upcycling!

So why on earth would we suddenly ask you to raise money for Otesha by going shopping?

All the time the internet is coming up with new ways for people to help raise money for charities they love – which is great, considering how hard times are for charities at the moment.

One of the latest is Give As You Live. This gizmo lets you nominate the charity you want to benefit – then a percentage of the value of your online shopping will go to that good cause – without costing you a penny. Thousands of online businesses take part, and sometimes the percentages are pretty significant. When it all adds up, it could do a lot of good.

Being Otesha, we just had to have a long collective agonising heart-search about this one: if we asked our friends and supporters to go shopping to help us, wouldn’t we be making the problem of overconsumption worse? And wouldn’t it be like accepting money from companies that we might actually think do ethically and environmentally dubious things?

On the other hand, we know the majority of you are shopping online anyway – and we are too, for example when we make our office stationery orders or if we buy train tickets.  If there’s a chance to help Otesha from what you and we are already doing, wouldn’t we be pretty stupid not to?

So here’s where we arrived at:

  • We don’t want you to go shopping just in order to help us!  But if you already shop online (we know you can’t make, grow or upcycle everything you need!), we’d really love it if you could sign up to Give As You Live and nominate the Otesha Project UK as the charity you’re benefiting.
  • We’re still in favour of consuming mindfully: Do I need this thing? Can I do without it? Is it made and transported in a way that minimises harm to (or maybe even benefits) people and nature?
  • We decided to be transparent about our dilemma and decision – that’s how you come to be reading this blog post!
  • We decided to take this opportunity, while talking about consuming mindfully and ethically – to promote our corporate screening policy, which prevents us from taking donations from companies that are exploiting people and planet. By using Give As You Live we’re not quite taking money directly from companies, but it’s close enough to make us a bit uncomfortable that we can’t control which companies participate – so if you think you’re shopping with a company that might not pass our policy, well, please think again!

So, with that all out in the open, here’s how you sign up to help support Otesha:

1. Download the Give As You Live software by clicking here – it’s very fast and doesn’t take up a lot of memory

2. Nominate the Otesha Project UK as your chosen charity

3. When you shop with participating businesses, it will work away in the background and benefit Otesha’s work – taking eco-workshops to schools across the country, supporting young people’s world-changing projects and getting young unemployed people into green, decently paid, meaningful work.

Thank you – and if you have any thoughts on our decision and dilemma, as usual we’d really value hearing what you think.

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