Spotted: OneBrand

Florence Finds twitter followers may remember a flurry of excitement just over a week ago, when we received an email asking us to spend the day cooking with Simon Rimmer, the celebrity chef you may well know from Something for the Weekend. I couldn’t make it, but it was poetic fate that saw Gemma attending on behalf of Florence Finds, given that it wasn’t just about fancy cooking, but a genius idea that makes it easy for you to make a difference to people in developing countries, just by doing your weekly shop…

Hi guys, Gemma C-S here. Now, today’s spotted is a slight departure from the norm with this category, in that it isn’t something particularly pretty (although the packaging is nice!) but rather something useful.

Some of you know that my husband and I spent much of 2010 travelling and during this period we did aid work in Asia and also lived in Cuba for a time where food is strictly rationed – and we came home with a completely different perspective on the way that we here in the developed world consume resources.  Now it’s all well and good for me to get up on a soapbox and talk about how nothing goes to waste in Havana, that women soak their pineapple scraps and skins in water so that no part of the fruit goes to waste, that when your monthly allotment of coffee runs out you simply can. not. get. any. more. (unless you try the black market.) Nor does it really achieve anything for me to say that for a Burmese man we met, a ‘good week’ was one where he was able to give his family meat one night out of seven, and that they shared a piece of chicken between them that to us seemed minuscule.  Yes, we’re very lucky to live where we do, to have access to an abundance of clean water and fresh food, but it’s human nature that other wants and needs get layered over that and in our busy, built-up lives it can be very hard to ‘give back’ – or to make any tangible difference to people living on the other side of the world in a place you’ve never been to.

Which is why Onebrand is my new favourite thing. What is it all about? Well, in their own words:

we have a really simple idea. We create brilliant, quality products, and every time you buy one, we donate 100% of the profit to life-changing projects in developing countries.”

So, in essence, every time you buy a Onebrand product (and they do a range, everything from fizzy water to toilet paper to the world’s best eggs) they fund a like-for-like equivalent. So, for example, buying Onebrand toilet tissue funds hygiene and sanitation projects in Africa. Onebrand bandaids fund ambulance bikes and first aid kits. Onebrand fruit juices fund vegetable farming.  And they’re stocked in a huge number of stores, including Tesco, ASDA, Waitrose as well as online, and they’re also popping up randomly wherever I turn recently (like in the vending machines in my office, where a bottle of Onebrand sparkling water is 10p cheaper than its competitor…result!)

Here at Florence Finds, obviously, we love luxury products, high fashion and indulgent food, as well as with picking up bargains where we can. But we also are prone to that horrible feeling you sometimes get when holding an item before you buy it, that thought of ‘if it costs me so little – yet there’s so much work in it – the people who made it must be paid next to nothing’. We have families, we have budgets to stick to, houses to save up for, cars to put petrol in.  It would be great to always live and buy sustainably, but it’s not always practical or easy.  It’s not often that something comes along where we can make a difference in the developing world by doing so little. Team C-S has completely switched to Onebrand and Duncan Goose, its founder, is a new household hero – because after he came back from travelling, much as we did, he didn’t sit around yapping, (erm, as we also did, and do,) but put his money where his mouth was and became the change he wanted to see in the world.

Sentimental, do-goody words by yours truly? Perhaps. But in purely practical terms – if the choice is between two packets of bread which cost the same, and one is giving profit to a multinational corporation while the other is supporting a developing community, why would I buy the first?

Do let us know if you’ve already come across Onebrand in stores, or if you have another ethical find to share with us, and don’t forget that the next Friday Food is another Simon Rimmer for Onebrand recipe.

Love, Gemma C-S (who yes, is a little bit socialist around the edges.)

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