Every Little Bit

I'm a strong believer in the very simple concept that if everyone can make a little difference in their lives, together we can change the world. Outrageously idealist? Perhaps, but as far as I'm concerned, initiating micro-change on a global level is far more realistic than counting on a handful of world leaders to save mankind over tea and biscuits.

So where to start? We all know there are thousands upon thousands of worthy causes out there, but here are three that I think deserve more attention, along with a little help and inspiration from Chris Jordan, an amazing American artist I blogged about a little while ago here. In short, he translates some truly disturbing statistics about our consumerist excesses into frightening, comprehensible 'portraits' of our culture.

On with the list:

1. HopePhones

Chris' 2007 composition Cell Phones depicts the number of cell phones retired in the US every day...426,000!

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Now just imagine if each and every one of those phones went to someone who truly needed it.

Enter HopePhones.


For every old phone you send to HopePhones, an average of two to three phones will be dispatched to community health workers to assist medical clinics and their often isolated and widespread patient base.

HopePhones estimate that a $10 mobile phone will give 50 families access to emergency medical care, health information, transport services and clinic resources...so by my calculations, if even a quarter of mobile-savvy US peeps donated their old phones to HopePhones, around 15,975,000 families EVERY DAY could be given life-saving medical access.

2. Kiva

In 2006, Chris created Denali Denial, a depiction of the 24,000 GMC Yukon Denali SUV's sold in the US in any six week period of 2004. Now I'm no expert on fuel efficiency, but I'd guess that it wouldn't take too many kilometers/miles less to save, say $25.

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And coincidentally enough, $25 is all it takes to become a Loaner.

Kiva - loans that change lives

Or a microlender, to be precise. Last year I blogged about a fun little initative utilising Kiva, a peer-to-peer microloan lending site where us everyday people can pledge anywhere from $25 to entrepreneurs in developing countries. And better yet, when the loan is repaid (around 98% of loans are repaid in full!) you can pledge your money to another deserving entrepreneur and change yet another life. Or you can buy more fuel for your SUV...but I know where I'd rather see my money heading!

3. PetRescue

It's not just us two-legged folk who need a helping hand every now and then either! Dog and Cat Collars is Chris' most recent addition to his Running the Numbers series. It represents ten thousand dog and cat collars, equal to the average number of unwanted dogs and cats euthanised in the United States every day.

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In Australia, roughly 200,000 pets a year are essentially left to die. Sad face.

But without getting into the depressing atrocities of puppy mills and other such distressing industry practices that result in so many abandoned pets, I'd like to focus on what we can do to remedy the end result.


When little Jenny or Jimmy wants a new fluffy friend for Christmas, please don't head to the pet store - there are hundreds of lovable little guys waiting for you at your local shelter. Or better yet, have a looksie on a site like PetRescue that lets you search all shelters in your area, not just the large ones (I for one was ignorant to the fact that there are hundreds of shelters other than the RSPCA!)


And if scruffy little furballs aren't your style, keep in mind that in Australia at least, up to 30% of shelter populations are purebreds! That's not even taking into account 'Designer Dogs' like labradoodles which will actually be listed by their true names (e.g. Poodle Cross.) PetRescue also lists guinea pigs, bunnies and birds, amongst others.

Sadly I don't know of any equivalent American or European websites that allow such a comprehensive search of local shelters, but if you happen to know of any, please share them in the comments section!

(More information on Australian puppy mills is available at Where Do Puppies Come From? - but have a tissue ready!)

Thanks to my landlord however, I am to remain pet free. So I bought a goat. Allow me to introduce my little friend...



Polly is from the Oxfam Unwrapped initiative, where my little donation now means that Ms McGoat is happily playing a key role in the livelihood of a rural community. Not only does she love munching on household scraps, but she'll also provide milk and manure, plus her offspring can be sold to neighbouring communities to do the same.

And every little bit counts.

What do you do to make a difference for the lives of others?

6 comments:

KLBK said...

I so want to do Kiva sometime soon. Thank you SO much for this post!

Casi Leigh said...

Wow, that artwork really sent a cold chill down my spine. Thank you so much for the wonderful post, I want to try all of these! I'm signing up for Kiva ASAP!

Also, for those of us in the U.S., there is a wonderful online shelter search tool @ www.petfinder.com.

You can search within so many miles of your local area plus the listings give info about the shelter facility where each animal is located. Several of my friends have adopted their newest family members thanks to this site!

Tracey said...

A wonderful reminder of those little things we can do in the world to make it a better place... those images (and your words) are incredible, thought-provoking and sobering.

PS. Polly looks lovely! 8)

Laura | The Journal of Cultural Conversation said...

Hey Kit - I definitely have been wanting to do Kiva for awhile now, but in the meantime, I have been donating to various Kiva fellowships (you can even do it for $25). I'm also looking locally in NYC to commit to a volunteer project...even if one only has a few hours a month, it's better than nothing! I would probably have spent those few hours surfing the web - why not do something for others? Thanks for this. Really made my weekend.

Ali said...

You are so amazing for posting this and sharing the sites with us! I am so inspired right now. It's not always easy to know where to go to do your part, and this definitely helps! Thank you thank you thank you. You're kind of really awesome.

Pearl Maple said...

What a find, followed your blog link and really enjoyed all your ineresting and creativew posts. Never seen anything quite like that, it is stunning.