A new group for “Sharing Black Friday”

Join our facebook group to help organisations find the stuff they need.

This year’s Black Friday / Buy Nothing Day seems particularly poignant. COP27’s outcome reminds us how far we have to go in reducing resource usage, yet discounts will be welcome as people make ends meet in a cost-of-living crisis. Personally, seeing 50 former colleagues and friends face uncertainty following Joules’ collapse into administration (after a summer where people hadn’t spent enough) was a stark reminder of the challenges of reaching a sustainable, lower-consumption society.

At SHARE Oxford, we’re committed to helping our community on this journey, and sharing ideas and lessons more broadly. With our focus on sharing and repairing stuff, and inspired by the generous people who donate items for our Library of Things, we thought how about a “Sharing Black Friday” to launch a new service supporting community groups and charities with stuff we can spare.

Our facebook group SHARE Oxford Community Sharing allows these groups to request anything they need, and we can all help find it. From furnishing homes for homeless people, to sourcing the basics families need, to kitting out some of the new “warm spaces” that are helping people through the winter, we hope this will be a powerful way to find a meaningful home for things you don’t need, and a valuable resource for the wonderful projects underway in our community.

So, our Black Friday ask is to please consider joining the group. Can you introduce the initiative to an organisation who might benefit, or help source something that’s been requested, and help your community to save money, save waste and save the planet?

As ever, we’ll be pleased to hear your thoughts and suggestions on how we can take this further and share more. Email Ben on ben@shareoxford.org.

New: seed library!

Christine has brought some of her knowledge and passion for nature and gardening to SHARE Oxford, with the addition of a seed library!

The aim is to help you share seeds, rewild your garden and grow your own herbs and food.

Seeds are free to take and we ask that you donate back any surplus you have at harvest time to help the seed library grow.

We love wildlife friendly plants, herbs and food plants especially.

Christine has set things off with some wildflowers and borage seeds, which are fine to sow now if you’re looking to refresh some bare patches in your garden or would like to add wildflowers to your lawn in time for no-mow May. If you have any excess seeds you’d like to share with the community, we would love to hear from you at libraryofthings@shareoxford.org, or check out more about how it works on our seed library page.

Help us reduce consumption & waste

We’re really keen to understand where our Library of Things can make it easier to avoid buying Things you don’t need. So we’re keen to understand:

  • What you’ve bought recently that you’d have rather borrowed
  • What hire / borrowing services you use
  • What sharing is happening on your street (on WhatsApp groups etc)
  • What you no longer need but are struggling to find a good home for, or have sent to the tip? 

We’d love to hear your thoughts – please fill in our form or drop us an email. Thank you!

Your unwanted stuff can make a real difference

We’re seeing just how much donated stuff can help our local charities during these difficult times. If you’re thinking of having a summer clear-out, as well as your local charity shop or the freecycle and freegle communities (and our currently rather short donations wish list for the library), here are some organisations where your unwanted things can make a big difference.

Help homeless people and refugees build a home: Oxfordshire Homeless Movement connects all the organisations in the county helping the homeless, and has a directory of places you can donate things to. On the page above, check out their facebook groups where people request what they need, often to help a homeless person set up a new home, and members reach out to their community to source them, as well as an amazon wish list of regularly requested things.

Your old laptop, tablet or phone can get someone online: help one of the estimated 40,000 people not able to access the internet in Oxfordshire: donate an old device to Getting Oxfordshire Online. This charity partnership will securely wipe it, refurbish it and pass it on to organisations supporting people who can’t afford devices.

That unloved bike can get someone riding: Broken Spoke or Asylum Welcome Bike project will both be grateful, whether to refurbish and donate the bike to someone who needs one, to repair for sale to fund their projects, or use for parts.

A box of old offcuts can inspire creativity: Orinoco Scrapstore in Templars Square have a fantastically eclectic mixture of all sorts of things and materials, with a mission to inspire creativity to save waste. Worth a visit (if nothing else, to see if they still have the mannequin in a fancy dress astronaut costume).

We’re aiming to build a better directory of these sorts of services on our website – if you’d like to suggest another, please do email Ben or add it in the comments below.

Welcome Christine!

We’re delighted to welcome Christine as our new Library Manager. Christine is working with Ben and our fantastic volunteers to manage the Library of Things, ensuring that everyone who borrows from us has a great experience and expanding our offering as we continue to grow.

As well as her passion for sustainability and community, Christine is a big animal lover, among other things running the Crittery educational website and animal rescue. Do be sure to ask about her baby Tenrecs! (no relations to hedgehogs, apparently…)

Bike delivery update!

We’re really pleased to be partnering with Velocity Cycle Couriers to help us offer a more robust delivery service!

Velocity Cycle Couriers is an Oxfordshire based business launched in 2022 and aiming to normalise the concept of zero carbon delivery. They operate on a fleet of e-cargo bikes and electric vans to safely deliver produce and goods across Oxfordshire in a positive way that is friendly to their customers and to our planet. We’re very grateful to them for trialling a “community” charge with us, aiming between £6 and £10 each way for deliveries in the city depending on what you’re hiring.

We’re also grateful to our volunteers who are happy to jump on our cargo bike to offer this service “in-house” where we can too. As ever, do get in touch if you’d be interested to join our cyclists WhatsApp group!

We can’t offer delivery on all our Things (for example the 4m ladders are too big for the bikes and van, and we’re not able to deliver our petrol equipment as we share the service with local food companies), but we’re looking forward to seeing how it goes and hope this helps make SHARE Oxford more flexible and useful!

If you’d like to find out more about Velocity, do give them a shout at hello@velocitycc.co.uk

New Saturday hours

A quick note to let you know we’re changing our hours on Saturday. We’re now open 10:00 to 13:00. (Thursdays are still open 12-6 as before).

We hope that the earlier start will be convenient for those collecting things, to be able to make good use of the weekend. The shorter hours also help us as we work to be financially sustainable, now we are dependent on a paid Project Coordinator. As ever, we would be delighted to hear from people interested to volunteer as librarians to enable us to open more often through the week.

We look forward to seeing you soon!

Sharing in Oxfordshire’s Arts Community

We’re delighted to be joining up with the Green Arts Oxfordshire Network (GAON) and ShareBee for GAON’s first monthly Action Group next Wednesday 20th April at 12pm (on zoom), which will be focusing on how the arts community in Oxfordshire can share more.

Green Arts Oxfordshire Network is a community bringing the arts and cultural sector together in this climate emergency to collectively work towards climate justice and a zero carbon future. Have a look at their charter, resource kit and opportunities on their website. We are excited to meet some of key groups and organisations in this space, looking to implement libraries of things or equivalent setups to share their resources and make use of arts materials that are no longer required.

ShareBee is a new platform offering a peer-to-peer model for sharing, making it really quick for people to set up their own libraries of things, or just share a few of their own items, either to the public or a “hive” of friends or neighbours. We’re excited about the potential for this in Oxfordshire and we feel this sort of lending could complement what we do here at SHARE Oxford well, hopefully starting with some artists sharing hives soon!

GAON will be hosting monthly online or in-person meetings open to everyone. Each month, they will explore a different creative topic with the intention of forming dedicated Action Groups that act in response to the conversation.

This first Green Arts Action Group meeting will ask: How can we share? Creatives of all kinds face challenges sourcing materials and resources for projects sustainably. Join the conversation on how we can work together to source, transport and dispose of materials sustainably and locally where possible, thinking of creative solutions and factoring this in at the project planning stage.

Whether you’re in the arts community or not, we’d be delighted if you’d like to join to discuss building our sharing community here in Oxford and beyond. And if you can’t make it, do feel free to add comments below or get in touch with ideas or questions!