Will the ‘latte levy’ actually tackle ocean plastics?

5th January 2018By Admin

The ‘latte levy’– a new tax on disposable plastic cups- has hit the headlines this week. Brad Frankel gives his expert opinion as a marine conservationist and co-founder of Flooglebinder, a sustainable travel and education company.

The latte levy is a big deal right now, and rightly so. Ocean plastics are huge issue and any way of getting
talking and raising awareness is great. However, it’s a very small plaster over a very big wound. Disposable cups are one of many contributing factors to the plastic issue we’re facing, not to mention the relatively small percentage of people who actually buy hot drinks on the high street and of those many don’t care for the environment or about the increase in tax. When you actually break this down the impact is a drop in the ocean.

The amount of ocean plastics is growing at an alarming rate. Photo credit: Flooglebinder

Therefore, the producers and corporates have a responsibility to take ownership of their impact, such as the entire BCorp community do, and should be educating their customers about these issues. There also needs to be a change in consumer behaviour to decrease the throwaway-mindset but these cultural changes can be even harder, as again, a number of people don’t really care – it’s our job to make people care and create a connection with them and the environment, so that they understand it better, connect with it, enjoy it and want to protect it. If we can’t create that connection, than young people’s behaviour will never change.

Young people making a difference on a beach clean up. Photo credit: Flooglebinder

Re-useable items, such as coffee cups, are great to build loyalty within brands, whilst reducing company costs and their environmental impact. At the same time, it will raise awareness to the consumer, even if that is originally just to save money. If saving 25p is more important to someone than their environmental footprint, it’s a start and means that individual will have a passive impact, such as if they were to choose a BCorp brand. This will hopefully grow as they learn more about a sustainable lifestyle, resulting in a more active approach!


A world of difference for young people- the next generation of change makers. Photo credit: Flooglebinder

There is no simple solution: corporates have to take responsibility, consumers have to take responsibility and educators have to take responsibility. For so many people the issues seem so far away but the reality is students graduating now will be seriously affected by the awful situation they have inherited. At Flooglebinder, our focus is on ‘this’ generation and to teach them about the issues but more importantly to create a connection so that they want to become ambassadors of our planet. These are the future leaders and game changers that we hope to inspire through adventure, education and play!


Flooglebinder is just one of amazing organisations in Oxygen’s network of social enterprises, change-makers and good corporate citizens. We here to facilitate cross-sector conversations that otherwise wouldn’t happen. Together, we make a difference.

Greater Change: Alex McCallion’s vision tackling homelessness

29th November 2017By Admin

At Oxygen, we’re super proud to be supporting Greater Change. We caught up with Founder, Alex McCallion, to discuss the homelessness crisis, his inspiration, and their latest crowdfunding campaign.


Founder Alex McCallion. Photo credit: Oxford Mail 

 Hi Alex, what is Greater Change in a few sentences?

Greater Change https://www.greaterchange.co.uk/ is a mobile donation system that enables members of the public to give directly to a homeless individual. Once this individual wishes to access their fund, they meet with a support worker who ensures the money is spent effectively. Greater Change also allows you to give to organisations that help rough sleepers, the main unique feature here being absolute transparency: Greater Change will feedback to you exactly what your money was spent on.

Why do we need Greater Change in Oxford?

Oxford City is in a homelessness crisis. The latest street count shows that the number of people rough sleeping in the city has almost doubled over the last year. At the same time, there is so much goodwill out there and a huge willingness to help people who are rough sleeping. This is shown by the success of the crowdfunding campaign and so many people being willing to give to make this system a reality. It is also shown by talking to people within the city: people are very concerned about homelessness and really do want to help. However, at the moment they often do not feel able to help someone they see rough sleeping. Many people say they give a little money but wonder if it is really helping, many also say they often do not give for fear it will be spent on addictions and not help someone move off the streets. Greater Change will enable people to give and be certain they are helping.

Beyond Oxford, Greater Change hopes to expand across the country. At first by expanding to a few similar cities to Oxford.


What would happen if Greater Change doesn’t exist?

There are a huge amount of benefits to Greater Change, none of these would be realised. Some of the benefits include:

We would be stuck with things like begging which are outdated and sometimes do more harm than good. For example, Thames Reach estimate 80% of those begging do so to support a drug or alcohol addiction. With Greater Change you know money given is helping people move on from homelessness.

The huge proportion of people who do not carry cash would be unable to give.

People cannot get giftaid or donation matching when they give.

The app in action. Photo Credit: Greater Change

When people give they cannot know whether people truly need their money or whether they are a ‘professional beggar’.

Thames Reach estimate 80% of those begging do so to support a drug or alcohol addiction. With Greater Change you know money given is helping people move on from homelessness.

What inspires you to get up every morning?

It is easy to become numb to the fact that people sleep on our streets. However, when you pause and take even just a quick moment to reflect on this fact: that in our modern, affluent society people are sleeping rough. People are sleeping rough in freezing temperatures. It is a deeply shocking and unacceptable situation.

Lots of the general public want to help with this and being a part of that is extremely motivating and makes it easy to get out of bed in the morning! I am very grateful to everybody who has supported this and together we can definitely make a difference to helping people get off the streets.

When you pause and take even just a quick moment to reflect on this fact: that in our modern, affluent society people are sleeping rough…. It is a deeply shocking and unacceptable situation.

How can people support Greater Change?

Giving to our crowdfund campaign so we can help you to give smarter! Very soon after this campaign (early next year) our app will launch! You can help us by looking out for it and giving through it. We will of course keep all our crowdfund supporters updated in the meantime! Here is the link to our crowdfund campaign:



Photo Credit: Greater Change

At Oxygen, we’re passionate about sharing incredible social impact projects that are changing our world, one good deed at a time. If you’ve got a project or an avid blogger passionate about social justice,  contact info@youareoxygen.com or on Twitter @ouroxygen. #YouAreOxygen

Could blockchain be the new ‘pound in your pocket’?

22nd November 2017By Admin

Innovation is happening in some unexpected places; the streets of Hull and the notoriously shady of charity fundraising. Right now, its blockchain that is rapidly building momentum but is still largely unknown- a bit like the internet 20 years ago.  At TechForGood’s Blockchain- Hype or Hope? HullCoin and Alice.si shared their insights. Maybe with blockchain, we finally have the tool to fight back against this tide of inequality. Here’s two projects that combined cutting-edge technology with the reality of everyday life and the need for ‘old-school’ community engagement.

Hull Coin aimed to put individuals’ rights back at the heart of the economic system. It is an alternative currency system based in Hull, Yorkshire based on Bitcoin, one of blockchain’s most popular crypto-currencies. It allows individuals that cannot earn wages in traditional ways to engage with the local economy. Through local organisations or charities, an individual may volunteer to help clean a building, which is then rewarded in HullCoin which can be spent at local retailers. The ‘real’ experience of earning and spending a token was at the heart of Hull Coin’s ethos. Their driving mantra is that Hullcoin is a cross between Groupon and Facebook; HullCoin had to be as simple as posting on Facebook or using a Groupon discount code. HullCoin truly put technology right into the hands that need it most.

Hullcoin is a cross between Groupon and Facebook – Peter Kemp, Hull Coin

Peter Kemp from HullCoin. Photo credit: Louis Horsley
Peter Kemp from HullCoin. Photo credit: Louis Horsley

Next up, was the Alice.si platform. The desire to make a difference to individuals is at the heart of so much volunteering, charity donations and community action. Yet, according to Raphäel Mazet, many charities face an existential threat’ due to lack of public trust. The Alice.si platform aims to be the answer to this problem. Alice.si allows you as donor to track  your donations, so you can see the difference you made to individual lives. It also allows you to see if your money has had any impact and be returned to you, the charity hasn’t met its targets. Just like using blockchain to make supply chains more transparent, this level of transparency is only possible through blockchain because of its capacity of tracking each transaction’s unique identifier on the decentralised distributed ledger. Moreover, Blockchain technology has the power to instil a ‘payment by results’ mentality through its use of smart contracts. With smart contracts, donated funds are held back until pre-agreed targets are met. This process happens automatically, making the process truly fair and non-corrupt. Therefore, blockchain has the potential to transform the way we think about measuring the impact we have on people’s lives and enabling us to choose to ‘do good’ better.

“Many charities face an existential threat’ due to lack of public trust.”- Raphael Mazet, Alice.si

However, both projects still have a long way to go. At the heart of both projects was the need to value each worker’s efforts, but human lives are complex and it may be impossible to quantity the value of work or social impact programme, regardless of the currency system used. For example, the small-scale nature of Hullcoin was one of its biggest attractions; is it possible to keep this as the project expands? By using Alice.si platform, could the ‘payment by results’ mentality end up harming the very people it aimed to help? Would there be a tendency for projects to focus on ‘quick wins’, easy to measure outcomes, or simply choosing projects that are easy to solve (the proverbial ‘low hanging fruit’). This is not the genuine social engagement and impact measurement that it was designed to deliver. For example, how do you quantify ‘soft skills’ such as the increased confidence of a young person in a life skills programme? This is already a well-known issue within the social sector.

 Raphäel Mazet, Alice.si . Photo credit: Louis Horsley
Raphäel Mazet, Alice.si . Photo credit: Louis Horsley

I’m going to say honestly that I remain a ‘blockchain agnostic’*; open to the possibility but not committed either way. Despite all the promises of blockchain the thorny issues of social impact and measuring social impact remain. Blockchain is another tool in the toolkit, albeit a very powerful one. Hull Coin and Alice.si show another way forward and the creative meeting of new technology and old-fashioned social engagement, listening and community action. It’s up to all of us not to waste this opportunity.

*Thanks to the amazing Kate Dodson for this wonderful phrase.

Hop over to medium and join the conversation at @ouroxygen and https://medium.com/@youareoxygen

Is blockchain the link that global citizenship is missing?

22nd November 2017By Admin

Once upon a time, as an 11-year-old I was enthused by OXFAM’s ‘Poverty Make History’ campaign. Once I believed that changing one life was enough. How often do you hear that story? And how often do we find a way to ignite that passion again? Well, for me, Tuesday evening at Tech For Good’s Blockchain: Hype or Hope? at TechSpace was one of those nights.


Previously, it’s been possible to disregard the idea of a ‘new face of capitalism’ or responsible capitalism as utopian, but listening to Cecile’s manifesto for blockchain for good, humanising the blockchain, it seemed that people could matter, wherever they are in the supply chain. Could blockchain be the new face of responsible capitalism? Of consumerism?

Cecile Baird inspiring the audience
Cecile Baird inspiring the audience. Photo credit: Louis Horsley

Kate Dodson’s example of ethical mobile phones, such as Fairphone, such a vision a reality. Kate, consultant and Project Manager for HumanityX,  discussed the potential to transform supply chain tracking and therefore consumer behaviour. This would put individual choice and ethical decision making right back in our hands as consumers. She envisioned a world where you could track the source of a product, such as tin of tuna or the cobalt in a mobile phone at the swipe of a finger by scanning a code on the packaging. This way consumers have a meaningful way of engaging with that product’s supply chain and have the opportunity to balance economic cost with human and environmental costs- the ‘true’ or ‘triple’ bottom line.

The reality of cobalt sourcing in the DRC. Photo credit: Fairphone
Cobalt sourcing in the DRC. Photo credit: Fairphone

With the increasing demand for ethically sourced products, this could be the ‘magic bullet’ for systemic positive social change through consumerism. It could be means of connecting the admirable and tireless efforts of customer boycotts, regulation and policy, undercover investigative journalism and human rights watches. The reality of consumer experience that Kate envisioned is still a way off, but the principles and the feasibility of using blockchain is there. It suggests that to truly realise Blockchain’s potential for good, we need to first recognise the individuals and human stories behind each of our economic transactions, and then allow the technology to positive reinforce this recognition rather than degrading it. Maybe blockchain is the ‘voice of the next billion.’

Maybe blockchain is the ‘voice of the next billion.’

However, a note of caution was obvious too. For all its thrill and hype, blockchain is still immature technology. Just because blockchain promises complete transparency in every transaction doesn’t mean the technology could deliver this, or even that we want it to. To be truly ethical, a balance needs to be struck between amplify workers’ stories and protecting their identity. Revealing too much about someone’s identity could be more harmful than a lack of data. For example, the amazing work of FairPhone and the ethical consumerism industry will not transform the forces of capitalism overnight. There will still be a demand for cheap goods and the temptation to down-play workers’ rights in return for higher profits. Therefore, at the moment, maybe blockchain technology isn’t a one-off magic bullet enabling total supply chain transparency, but is a way to target and effectively enforce and nudge supply chain practices for the better. It could be a more effective tool in the race ‘to stay one step ahead’ of the latest worker exploitation cases.

Blockchain is only as socially impactful as its creators and its users. Technology is not neutral.

Overall, at the end of the day, blockchain is only as socially impactful as its creators and its users. Technology is not neutral. Whether techie or luddite, citizen, social impact professional or consumer, we all have a role to play in creating a better world. I remain sceptical of anything that promises total, systemic change instantly. But then, that’s what they said about the internet. Not all social impact can be achieved through blockchain technology, but in some sectors, the impact could be immense. Get it right and we could kick social change into the stratosphere.


Hop over to medium and join the conversation at @ouroxygen and https://medium.com/@youareoxygen

Koreo Prize Review: Can compelling narratives create real change?

17th November 2017By Admin

Stories have an incredible power to inform, inspire and challenge us. The entrants of the Koreo Prize did just that. Oxygen’s Louis to their event went along to marvel at their creativity and probe a little deeper on why storytelling matters and how turn hype into real action for the SDGs.

This Tuesday’s event was an storytelling event where Koreo hosts a pop-up exhibition to celebrate the inaugural Koreo Prize & young changemakers by showcasing their work. Entrants sought to new perspectives on community resilience, gender equality, social mobility, wellbeing, social housing & food security, which are the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. 

This was genuine engagement with social issues in the hands of some of the people that care most deeply about them. Koreo really does put this at the heart of what they do. Chatting with Ned Younger, Deputy Director at Koreo, he emphasised that “Something I’ve enjoyed about the Prize is that it’s been as much about the process as the outcome, and what you see tonight is the product of lots of discourse and iteration, from the people submitting, the judges, and the team at Koreo.” It’s clear that behind every great film or presentation are real lives and storytelling.

We checked out the reality beyond the vibe and spoke finalists Anna Merryfield and Shamica Ruddock about their project Homes for Londoners . They were driven to draw attention to the complexity of being a community in the midst of the pressures of London social housing. They say “For us, film is an incredibly powerful medium for humanising political and social issues, and demonstrating the complexity of individual lives. We are both interested in telling the stories of people who have been left out of mainstream discourses and using film to find and show the nuances of everyday life.”

Mr Edwards appears in the Home For Londoners film. Credit: Shamica Ruddock and Anna Merryfield.
Mr Edwards appears in the Home For Londoners film. Credit: Shamica Ruddock and Anna Merryfield.
Raejuan appears in the Home For Londoners film. Credit: Shamica Ruddock and Anna Merryfield
Raejuan appears in the Home For Londoners film. Credit: Shamica Ruddock and Anna Merryfield

The film’s audio was showcased these intentions perfectly. They aimed to “use the audio we had acquired to provide a deeper sense of who that person is, as opposed to just using a straight forward interview. To collect interviews, we visited the individual’s homes and spent time with them having long discussions. We then clipped and layered the audio we collected to try and create a kind of ‘audio portrait’ of those individuals.”  Overall, watching their film was an evocative and powerful experience- I was left wondering where home was to me, and the difference between simply residing and being at ‘home’- whether that ‘home’ is far away, in the past or here and now. You can find their film here, https://vimeo.com/229625978

All this resonated with our ethos here at Oxygen. We love connecting like-minded individuals for social good. We loved this event because film and storytelling facilitating the process of coming together around a social issue, especially when it engages people with a social issue that they won’t normally be engaged with, through the media of film that’s familiar and compelling to share.

After this great event, we were left with one burning question. Throughout the night we got an insight into a really wide variety of challenges different stratas of society face on a daily basis – some of these issues are hiding in plain sight, and others need a light shining on them. Whilst raising awareness is a vital first step to addressing injustices, we left feeling energised – but also wondering “what’s next?”

How can the same electric energy that was present at the exhibition be harnessed to co-create disruptive solutions to the content on being masterfully displayed?

 Got an answer? Head over to our twitter @ouroxygen or our blog join the conversation.

Inspired? Check out similar events at how photography can impact the refugee crisis, or how one film maker’s journey across Central Asia, attempting to change perceptions of places “wrongly written off as too remote, too forbidding or too damned dangerous.”


Credit: Louis Horsley
Credit: Louis Horsley
Credit:Louis Horsley
Credit:Louis Horsley
Mr Edwards appears in the Home For Londoners film. Credit: Shamica Ruddock and Anna Merryfield.
Mr Edwards appears in the Home For Londoners film. Credit: Shamica Ruddock and Anna Merryfield.

5 unmissable social impact events in London before Christmas

8th November 2017By Admin

Ready for the weekend? Planning the week ahead? Here’s 5 unmissable social impact events happening across London soon.

At Oxygen, we love connecting people and sparking off great collaborations for social impact. So whether you’re you looking for your next “aha!” moment to transform your organisation, looking for co-founders, or just a great and inspiring evening, you need Oxygen!

Balancing the climate equation: How to remove carbon from the atmosphere

16th November , 7-8.30 PM, Royal Institute, London

A thought-provoking, alternative angle on combating climate change. UK climate scientists discuss how forests, soils and mines can be used to trap greenhouse gases.

Book a ticket through MeetUp

Balancing the climate equation: How to remove carbon from the atmosphere

Thursday, Nov 16, 2017, 7:00 PM

Royal Institution
21 Albemarle Street London W1S 4BS London, GB

8 Members Went

http://www.rigb.org/whats-on/events-2017/november/public-balancing-the-climate-equation-how-to-remove-carbon-from-the-atmosphereEvent descriptionThere’s a lot of focus on limiting the amount of greenhouse gas that we add to the air, but could we look at the other side of the equation and start to subtract? Join leading UK climate scientists as th…

Check out this Meetup →


17th November, 8-10am, Shoreditch House, London,

You’ll like this if you’re looking for real examples of organisations tackling social issues through technology.  Technology it can be a lifeline for isolated older people, integrate socially-good products into our daily lives as consumers, and make on the nation’s favourite sport transform an amazing force for good. BuddyHub, ShiftDesign and the Football Foundation will be sharing insights.

T/F/D is a boutique advisory firm focused on disruptive and emerging technologies, with a core team that has more than 40-years experience.

Book a ticket through eventbrite


The Social Pop Up | Connecting you to social impact enthusiasts & innovators

21st November 2017, 6-8pm, Aviva Digital Garage, 33-35 Hoxton Square, London

If you’re in a sociable mood, this is the place to be! Chat with other people equally passionate about social impact and enterprise. You never know that amazing ideas can come out of a conversation with the right people!

Book a ticket through Eventbrite

Changing the Game: Creating Powerful Social Impact in an Uncertain World

23rd November, 1.30-4.30pm, Fitzroy Square, London

If you want to really immerse yourself and learn the latest skills for working in social impact and systemic change.

Book a ticket through Eventbrite

Gaming, Education and the SDGs

7th December, 6.30pm, LEON, 33 Eastcastle Street, London

Another approach to tackling some of the biggest challenges in our world today. Focused on global education and youth, hear from inspiring speakers from Beyond Human Stories, Ocean Generation and Harriet Marshall. An great introduction to organisations working across technology and social impact.


Book a ticket through MeetUp

Gaming, Education, and the SDGs

Thursday, Dec 7, 2017, 6:30 PM

33 Eastcastle Street, W1W 8ET London, GB

50 Sustainable Development Leaders Attending

The next SDGs Network Meetup will take place on Thursday, December 7th.The theme is Gaming, Education, and the SDGs with a particular focus on Goal 4- Quality Education, and Goal 14- Life Below WaterWe are looking forward to hearing from:Genevieve Boast from Beyond Human StoriesGenevieve currently works with the SDG’s across multiple sectors, c…

Check out this Meetup →


Want us to mention your event? Loved an event? Share it with our crowd on Twitter @ouroxygen

Never miss an event again. Follow us on Twitter @ouroxygen and our blog http://www.youareoxygen.com/the-feed/  




Blockchain-Hype or Hope?

8th November 2017By Admin

Blockchain- Hype or Hope?

We’re super excited about Tech for Good’s Blockchain- Hype or Hope? Event at Techspace, London, 14th November.

Tech for Good’s Ellie and Dama say:
“Blockchain has been heralded as the next big thing in the social sector and has fast risen from emerging trend to a disruptor in the development and humanitarian space alone. But can it really address some of the social and environmental challenges we’re facing? In this meetup we’ll explore the role of blockchain technologies in helping to address the world’s challenges. We’ll hear lightning talks from ‘blockchain for good’ pioneers, before breaking into a panel discussion around whether this tech offers hype or hope.”

At Oxygen we believe that Blockchain could enable positive systematic change: things that we live and breathe at Oxygen. However, there’s a lot of hype surrounding blockchain, and more specifically the idea that some people are making large sums of money – and this kind of attention can be distracting.

We see the technology as a means to delivering our end goal: incentivising and rewarding the co-creation of systems-changing impact projects.

For a bit of background:
It’s so new. It’s a bit like the internet was 40 years ago; largely unknown but game changing. New to blockchain? Start with Richie Etwaru’s TEDx talk or Block Geeks’ What is blockchain technology

“Bitcoin will do for payments what email did for communication…”- Shaping Tomorrow

Blockchain's already doing great things across a range of sectors as well as transforming how we think about financial accountability and transparency as concepts. To get you thinking, Hype and Hope has phenomenal speakers such as Cécile Baird, Raphäel Mazet, David Shepherdson and Sally Eaves.

We’ve compiled some of the ideas that inspire us most, ready for next Tuesday.

Across education….
“Welcome to 2026, where learning is earning. Your ledger account tracks everything you’ve ever earned in units called Edubucks….”- Learning is Earning

Across the financial system…
“As revolutionary as it sounds, Blockchain truly is a mechanism to bring everyone to the highest degree of accountability. No more missed transactions, human or machine errors, or even an exchange that was not done with the consent of the parties involved….”– Ian Khan

Across agriculture…
Getting paid for labor is a big challenge in the farming world, and Blockchain can alleviate part of that.” Liz Reitzig, Founder of Nourishing Liberty, in Growing the garden: how to use blockchain in agriculture

Across engineering…
“[Blockchain has the] potential to provide transparency and traceability could help to assure supply chain provenance, maintenance cycles, and the monitoring of Internet of Things networks…” – Insight report on distributed ledger technologies, The Alan Turing Institute and the Lloyd's Register Foundation

But will the blockchain bubble burst?

Blockchain solves some tough problems, but it could create more. In its 9 year history, Bitcoin’s had ups and downs and acted as example for the rest of the blockchain world.Is blockchain the solution no-one’s looking for? …

“ [Since Bitcoin] No other blockchain-based software initiative seems to be at any real risk of hockey-sticking into general recognition, much less general usage….” -Jason Bloomberg

What do you think?

Inspired? Want to join us? Sign up for Blockchain-Hype or Hope? at Techspace, London, 14th November and join the conversation at https://medium.com/@youareoxygen See you there!